Nitish Kumar’s Bihar move upsets opposition’s alliance plan in Jharkhand | india-news | Hindustan Times
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Nitish Kumar’s Bihar move upsets opposition’s alliance plan in Jharkhand

Nitish Kumar’s decision to return to the NDA has virtually put paid to plans of a grand alliance in Jharkhand to take on the ruling BJP in the next assembly elections.

india Updated: Aug 01, 2017 07:27 IST
Kumar Uttam
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar and Jharkhand Vikas Morcha chief Babulal Marandi in happier times. Nitish Kumar’s decision to restore his partnership with the BJP has jeopardised Opposition unity plans in neighbouring Jharkhand.
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar and Jharkhand Vikas Morcha chief Babulal Marandi in happier times. Nitish Kumar’s decision to restore his partnership with the BJP has jeopardised Opposition unity plans in neighbouring Jharkhand.(HT PHOTO)

Nitish Kumar’s handshake with the BJP has sent shockwaves beyond Bihar. The summersault by the veteran socialist has left the opposition stunned in neighbouring Jharkhand, where Nitish had proposed a grand alliance with former chief minister Babulal Marandi’s Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (JVM) and others against the ruling BJP.

“Marandi is stunned, too,” one of his aides told HT. “They worked closely for a combined front. Things are back to square one.”

At an event in Jharkhand to showcase his prohibition policy in May 2016, Nitish had promised to replicate it in the state if Marandi is voted as chief minister in the next election scheduled in December 2019.

The plan was to stitch a grand alliance including Nitish, Marandi, Lalu Prasad and the Congress that could reach out to both tribal and non tribal population of the state.

The plan is now in jeopardy with Nitish returning to the NDA, and most likely to contest the next election in alliance with the BJP.

Both Marandi and Nitish enjoyed a clean image and the former chief minister was looking forward to the alliance.

“An alliance with Lalu alone is not worth it,” a JVM functionary said.

The Congress too is undecided about an alliance and its newly appointed in-charge for Jharkhand, RPN Singh, has announced that the party will strengthen its organisation in each of the 81 assembly seats.

Although the Congress is not ruling out an alliance, it is keeping its options open to chose between Marandi and JMM of Shibu Soren, the tallest tribal leader from the state.

BJP leaders in Delhi have ruled out any immediate merger talks with Marandi, but have kept doors open for him.

“We always wanted him to return,” a BJP general secretary said. “He was approached in 2009 and again in 2014. It is a call that he has to take.”

Marandi had declined BJP’s offer in the past as his former party did not accept some of the condition he had set. Although there was no dispute over his projection as the chief ministerial face, Marandi wanted total control over the party the decision making role. The BJP was averse to it. The BJP and the JVM have fought a turf war for a decade now and conceding too much to Marandi would have resulted into another round of infighting in the BJP.