The Nitish Kumar-led ruling National Democratic Alliance government in Bihar finds itself on a tough wicket. The last few months have seen a growing discord among leaders of a coalition government where the BJP and the JD(U) are the two main constituents. While JD(U) president Nitish Kumar is Chief Minister of the state, two BJP MLAs are his deputies. There have been several occasions in the recent past where leaders of both parties have failed to find common ground on a number of issues and have aired their difference of opinion publicly.
Recently, the state’s Planning and Implementation Minister and JD(U) leader Bijendra Prasad Yadav wrote to Niti Aayog vice-chairman Rajiv Kumar stating that Bihar fulfilled all criteria for being accorded the special status. On Tuesday, during a debate on the second batch of Supplementary Demands for Grants for 2021-22 in Lok Sabha, JD(U)’s Sunil Kumar Pintu said Bihar needs to be given the special category status for the growth and development of India. However, it did not go well with the BJP as Deputy CM Renu Devi termed the fresh demand as meaningless and said the Centre has already given the state much more privileges, including funds. However, CM Kumar sought to downplay the differences saying that Renu Devi does not have detailed information about the issue and he will explain things to her. “The demand for the special status to Bihar is totally justified, the state deserves it,” said Kumar.
The JD(U) also raised the caste census issue in Parliament. On Monday, JD(U)’s MP Kaushalendra Kumar said in Lok Sabha that a caste-wise census will help in better implementation of the reservation policy and also provide a scientific basis for it. While the JD(U) has been more vocal about the caste-wise census, the Bihar BJP has kept its position on the issue ambiguous after the Central government openly said that it won’t go for a caste-based census. Nitish Kumar had even said that the Bihar government can conduct caste census in the state at its own expense if the center refuses to do so. The BJP also appears to be peeved over CM Nitish and Opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav speaking in one voice over the issue.
Then there is the much-discussed liquor ban which has put the ruling party under fire from the opposition on more than one occasion. While CM Kumar had taken a tough stand on the liquor ban issue after the recent hooch tragedy, even some BJP leaders have expressed displeasure saying that police and administration are hands in gloves with the liquor mafia. Recently, BJP state president Sanjay Jaiswal said that the police and administration in the West Champaran area are working in collusion with the liquor mafia. He also demanded that Nitish Kumar should consider bringing in stricter laws to punish the violators.