As the saffron party's organisation is considered stronger and its poll machinery much more formidable compared to the JD(U) or any other party in the state, there is a view that it can reap a better political harvest than the Chief Minister Nitish Kumar-led party, if conditions favour the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
Janta Dal United National President and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar with BJP senior leader and Dy CM Sushil Kumar Modi during a press conference ahead of Bihar Assembly election, in Patna. (PTI Photo)
With the BJP and the JD(U) contesting nearly equal number of seats in the Bihar assembly polls, the saffron party is looking at the prospect of emerging as the ‘big brother’ in their about 25-year-old alliance, except for a break-up in between, a scenario that can rearrange the power equation in the state.
The BJP had a better strike rate than the JD(U) in the 2010 polls, the last assembly election they fought together before parting ways in 2013 for four years, when it won 91 of 102 seats against the JD(U)’s 115 of 141 seats in the polls to the 243-seat assembly.
As the saffron party’s organisation is considered stronger and its poll machinery much more formidable compared to the JD(U) or any other party in the state, there is a view that it can reap a better political harvest than the Chief Minister Nitish Kumar-led party, if conditions favour the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
The decision of Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party to contest against the JD(U) while speaking favourably of the BJP has added a twist.
JD (U) spokesperson K C Tyagi, however, refuted any such suggestion and said the joint press conference by his party’s leaders and the BJP in Patna on Tuesday has finished off all “disinformation” campaign.
“Top leaders of the BJP have again reiterated that the NDA in Bihar means the acceptance of Nitish Kumar’s leadership. The polls will be fought under him and he will become chief minister again irrespective of how many seats a party wins,” he said.
Targeting the LJP, he said if a party “misuses” Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pictures, then the NDA alliance will ask the Election Commission to take action. “The NDA will win with three/fourth seats,” he asserted.
Tyagi’s remarks came amid LJP president Chirag Paswan’s fulsome praise for the BJP and Modi, and his assertion that his party will seek votes to strengthen the prime minister’s leadership.
Paswan has claimed in a tweet that the BJP and the LJP will form the next government in Bihar and that it will probe “corruption” during Kumar’s government and send accused behind bars.
The BJP on its part is backing to the hilt Kumar as the alliance’s leader in the state but has acknowledged that the LJP as an ally at the Centre.
The view that the LJP may make the upcoming electoral battle difficult for the JD(U) was enforced on Tuesday again as senior Bihar BJP leader Rajendra Singh joined Paswan’s party after the seat he wanted to contest from fell in the quota of Kumar’s party.
Ending days of intense speculation, the NDA on Tuesday announced its seat-sharing formula for the Bihar assembly polls under which JD(U) will contest on 122 seats and the BJP on 121 out of a total of 243 seats.
In the outgoing assembly, the RJD was the largest party with 73 MLAs followed by the JD(U) with 69 MLAs, BJP (54) and the Congress (23).
Kumar has called the shots in running the government in Bihar and in setting the alliance’s agenda, with the BJP mostly playing the second fiddle. He may return at the helm for one more time but he may no longer have the same authority, political watchers believe.