The Bihar Post

Bochaha by-polls: A test of BJP’s plan to lessen dependence on nagging allies?

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PATNA—Bolstered by its impressive wins in four of the five States where it returned to power after successfully countering the ant-incumbency wave, the ruling BJP in Bihar now appears to be working on a plan to lessen its dependence on nagging allies, causing consternation within the NDA.

The issue surfaced after the BJP fielded its own candidate for by-elections to Bochaha seat in Muzaffarpur which was represented by its ally the Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP), a political outfit headed by fishermen community leader Mukesh Sahani. The seat fell vacant after the death of VIP lawmaker Musafir Paswan and hence the VIP being a BJP ally held the legitimate claim over the seat.

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In sharp contrast to VIP’s claim, the BJP has given ticket to Baby Kumari, party vice-president, prompting the VIP to revolt against the saffron camp. The VIP has reacted by fielding Geeta Kumari, daughter of former minister Ramai Ram, from this seat. Initially, the VIP had planned to field Amar Paswan, son of party legislator late Musafir Paswan, from the seat but he later joined the RJD.

A series of developments have made the contest really interesting since this is being viewed as saffron camp’s move to test its own capability in by-polls where victory or defeat is not going to decide the fate of the ruling NDA government in the state.

Although it is said the BJP took this step while reacting to Sahani’s decision to field candidates against the BJP on 53 assembly seats in recent assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, this logic doesn’t carry weight since allies have been known for flexing muscles in elections after failing in their attempts to seal seat-sharing deals. Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal United (JD-U) too contested against the BJP in UP.

Political analysts said the BJP has been irritated at comments made by VIP chief against the party leaders and hence want to test its political prowess in Bochaha, a north Bihar seat dominated by Mallah community, fellow caste men of Sahani.

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“So, a victory in this by-election will prove the BJP can no longer depend on VIP and bank on its own development agenda,” commented a political expert adding a possible victory could also open “Pandora Box” for chief minister Kumar since the saffron camp too is not said to be happy with the JD-U leaders.

It’s now obvious the JD-U has already reacted strongly to the BJP’s unilateral move to field its own candidate from Bochaha seat, instead of giving a chance to the VIP, its Bihar ally.

“The BJP should have taken the VIP into confidence before fielding its candidate from the seat since it would have conveyed a positive message in the society. Moreover, this seat had fallen vacant after the death of VIP legislator,” JD-U’s Parliamentary Board chairman Upendra Kushwaha said. Kushwaha even announced to play arbitrator if the situation warranted so, and sought for resolving the issue quickly.

The BJP said the Bochaha has been its own seat and now it wants to win it any cost. “Bochan was our seat. We had given this seat to VIPs from our own quota in the last assembly elections. But we have to win that seat, that’s why we have fielded our candidate from there,” Bihar industry minister Shahnawaz Hussain said today, denying any differences with the VIP chief.

Apparently, the BJP seems to be closely following the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Bihar’s main opposition party which has refused to enter into alliance with its most-trusted ally Congress in assembly polls citing its fast-deleting vote-bank.

Neither in the recent by-polls nor in the upcoming council elections from local bodies’ constituencies for 24 seats, the RJD entered into alliance with the Congress. However, it has announced to contest the parliamentary elections together.

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