Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has met his Bihar counterpart Nitish Kumar four times in the last two months, prompting voters to wonder what was causing the bonhomie.
Sources said the upcoming elections in Bihar later this year may have prompted Kumar to make repeated visits to and express full support for Arvind Kejriwal.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has already decided to not contest the Bihar elections, much to the chagrin of a number of party leaders.
What Kumar wants now, party insiders say, is a promise from Kejriwal to address a pre-election rally in his state.
“No commitments have been made so far and there is a slim chance that Kejriwal may actually campaign for Kumar. Kejriwal has a secular image and he is a youth icon, something that Kumar wants on his side. His opposition to the BJP just makes things easier,” said a senior party member.
But for Nitish Kumar, another factor could be driving him to pursue Kejriwal — a 40-lakh strong purvanchali population in Delhi with strong ties back home.Some reports say around 10 lakh people — originally from Bihar — voted for AAP in February.
AAP won big in areas with a large purvanchali voter base. In Delhi, the purvanchali vote base is crucial, as was shown by BJP when it fielded actor/singer Manoj Tewari from the north east Delhi parliamentary constituency.
In Delhi, AAP paid special attention to the base, reiterating ahead of the elections that it gave tickets to 10 purvanchali candidates. It is this popularity, some feel, that Kumar now wants to tap into.
Kejriwal’s old ties with Kumar, many also believe, are behind the repeated visits.
“Both have known each other since Kejriwal’s RTI struggle days. There is a personal relationship also, but to say this will turn into a political alliance is wrong. There is a big chance that Kejriwal will turn down the request to address a rally in Bihar,” a party leader said.
According to Sanjay Kumar, the director of Centre for Study of Developing Societies, pulling voters using Kejriwal will be a tough task.
“People voted for Kejriwal in Delhi for different reasons. The class factor played a very big role. In Bihar, this may not work. People will come to see Kejriwal, if he campaigns but won’t necessarily vote for Nitish because of him,” he said.