The Bihar Post

Love’s Labour Lost: BJP begins cutting Nitish down to his original size and how

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PATNA: Going back to the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) does not seem to be a good idea for Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar.

Rather than extending hands of support, the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has slowly gone on cutting Kumar down to size.

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Kumar who heads the ruling Janata Dal United (JD-U) in Bihar dumped the erstwhile ruling Grand Alliance to form his new government with the BJP in July last.

In a fresh development, the BJP has planned to hold a “Kurmi sammelan” (convention of Kurmi castes) in Patna on November 5 to woo the fellow caste men of chief minister Kumar. The move has startled the political experts since Kumar is now already a partner of the BJP.

“Nitish Kumar has always tried to divide Kurmi caste for political purposes. Now we are trying to bring them together by holding a Kurmi sammelan,” a BJP leader Rajiv Ranjan said.

Ranjan was earlierwith the JD-U but he switched side and joined the BJP later after his relations with the chief minister soured when the latter pushed his colleague Jitan Ram Manjhi from throne to himself grab the hot seat.

“At presently, only four-five percent Kumis are with Nitish Kumar, the remaining 95 percent wants to stay with the BJP,” Ranjan added.

The JD-U has reacted bitterly to this move by the BJP leader. “Rajiv Ranjan should not forget that it was because of Nitish Kumar that he was able to become the lawmaker once,” asked JD-U spokesperson Sanjay Singh.

The development amply indicates how the BJP is slowly trying to undercut the chief minister who has his support base primarily among his fellow caste men, say political experts.

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That he doesn’t enjoy support base among other social groups became clear in the last 2014 LS polls when the JD-U was able to win only two seats. The JD-U had gone it alone at that time. The JD-U has performed well only when it allied with any party

The BJP is also in no mood to spare too many seats for the JD-U in the next 2019 Lok Sabha polls and has asked the party workers to prepare for all the 40 LS seats.

BJP president at the meeting of the party held in Delhi earlier this month asked the Bihar leaders to make preparations for all 40 Lok Sabha seats and announced to have his own party men at all the booths including those from where the JD-U candidates would be contesting elections.

The BJP has also denied berth to the JD-U, its new ally, in the Narendra Modi cabinet during its recent reshuffle.

The JD-U was expected to get at least two berth for its leaders in the Modi cabinet for which the local media remained abuzz with stories and the party never contradicted as such.

But in a severe disappointment to the chief minister, the JD-U was not even given the invitation to attend the swearing-in ceremony held at Rashtrapari Bhawan in New Delhi.

The NDA government has already made it clear it was not going to grant special category status to Bihar—a demand which the JD-U has been raising for the past over a decade.

Also, the Modi government is yet to grant funds against Rs 763 billion flood assistance sought by the chief minister. So far, the Modi government has announced only five billion flood package for Bihar.

“The developments should be eye-opener for Nitish Kumar. He must realize how the BJP has slowly begun to cut him to his real size,” quipped RJD vice-president Shivanand Tiwari.

The developments indeed must be a setback for Kumar who at one point of time was in the race for the Prime Minister.

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