Strange bedfellows: Cracks deepen in Bihar NDA, but will Nitish snap ties with Modi?

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July 17, 2019 5:08 PM

Bihar police to track RSS leaders: The development will further strain the ties between the NDA alliance partners.

Nitish Kumar, PM Modi, BJP, JDU, Bihar NDANitish Kumar’s differences with the top BJP leadership are not new.

The strained relations between the BJP and JD(U) is showing the signs of cracking up once again after news reports surfaced on the Bihar government’s order to track RSS leaders. This is the fourth instance of growing differences between the alliance partners since the formation of the second Modi government at the Centre in May this year. JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar did not accept the BJP’s offer of one ministerial berth in the Union cabinet.

The problems in the relations of the alliance partners were in full public view when JD(U) refused to vote in favour of the introduction of the Triple Talaq Bill in the 17th Lok Sabha last month.

The BJP will not need the support of its allies in the Lok Sabha to get the bill passed, however, it will need support in the Rajya Sabha. A former JD(U) Rajya Sabha member said that the party will not back the Triple Talaq Bill in the Rajya Sabha either.

Bihar government’s decision to track the leaders of RSS and other right-wing organisation in the state is the fourth instance of widening rift between the parties since the BJP’s resounding victory in the Lok Sabha elections in May this year.

First, the JDU did not accept the BJP’s offer of one symbolic berth in Modi 2.0 government. Then the party responded in a tit-for-tat manner by not including any BJP leader when Nitish Kumar expanded Bihar cabinet last month. Later Nitish Kumar said that the BJP was offered one seat in the cabinet expansion which was not accepted by the saffron party.

Thereafter the JDU did not vote in favor of the government when Triple Talaq Bill was introduced in the 17th Lok Sabha last month.

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Reports of Bihar government’s order is the fourth serious instance of growing rift between the alliance partners after Lok Sabha elections that have seen several ups and downs since 2013 when Nitish Kumar had kicked out the BJP from his government in Bihar. He later contested the assembly elections in alliance with the Congress and RJD and formed the government in the state with their support. Nitish Kumar had also called for RSS Mukt Bharat (India free from the RSS) on the lines of BJP’s slogan of Congress Mukt Bharat. The statement was vehemently opposed by BJP leaders.

However, Prime Minister Modi and BJP welcomed him the NDA fold in July 2017 when he left the Mahagathbandhan. Later Bihar was one of the first states where BJP sealed its pre-poll alliance with JDU and LJP for Lok Sabha polls.

But the ties between the partners have strained since the BJP’s decision to offer one ministerial berth in the Union cabinet to each of its alliance partners irrespective of their strength in the 17th Lok Sabha.

Bihar government’s decision to track RSS leaders in the state will further strain the ties between the partners as BJP leadership is sensitive about the treatment given to its ideological fountainhead.

“We don’t want to comment on these media reports about Bihar government’s order,” the former Rajya Sabha member told Financial Express Online while reacting to the news reports of Bihar government’s decision to track RSS leaders in the state.

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Also, it will be difficult for the BJP to digest JDU’s decision not to support Triple Talaq Bill in Parliament as it is seen as one of the most important reform agenda of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Banning the practice of an instant oral divorce by pronouncing the word Talaq thrice in quick succession, which is prevalent in a section of Indian Muslims, is considered one of the most important legislative agenda of Prime Minister Narendra Modi which he could not implement in his first tenure.

The Union government twice promulgated the ordinance to ban Triple Talaq after it failed to pass the bill in the Rajya Sabha during PM Modi’s first tenure.

After winning a thumping majority in the Lok Sabha election, Prime Minister Modi did not waste time. In a clear sign of its resolve to push through the Triple Talaq law, the government moved a fresh anti Triple Talaq Bill in the Lok Sabha in the beginning of the first session of the new Lok Sabha.

However, the JDU’s decision to walk out from the Lok Sabha was seen as an act of defiance against Prime Minister Modi’s social reform agenda.

“We will not support the bill in its present form. It must be sent to a parliamentary committee for further scrutiny,” said the senior JDU leader.

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