The Bihar ruling coalition partners, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Janata Dal-United (JD-U), appear to have put behind them the bitterness that had crept into their ties in the aftermath of the National Democratic Alliance’s (NDA) summary defeat in the recent Lok Sabha elections.
The latest sign of the return of warmth into the relationship between the two NDA allies is the JD-U leadership’s decision to leave the Warisnagar-SC and Chainpur seats to the BJP in the coming assembly by-elections. These seats were in the BJP quota during the last Assembly elections held in October 2005. But the party had lost these seats to Lok Janshakti Party’s (LJP) Maheshwar Hazari Warisnagar) and Rashtriya Janata Dal’s (RJD) Mahabali Singh (Chainpur).
Earlier this year, both Hazari and Singh had resigned their seats and went on to win the subsequent Lok Sabha poll on JD-U tickets, from Samastipur-SC and Karakat, respectively.
Much to the BJP’s relief, the JD-U did not insist on putting up its own candidates in Warisnagar and Chainpur. Instead, it conceded these seats to the BJP on the ground that they fell in its 2005 Assembly quota.
This was the second clear signal that the BJP was back in favour with the JD-U. The first sign of the thaw in the ties between the parties came last month when BJP’s Tarakant Jha was cleared for council chairmanship.
After dilly-dallying over the issue for months, the JD-U top brass cleared Jha’s name for the top legislative council post even though the JD-U was pretty close to securing a majority in the upper house on its own.
Top BJP leaders now admit that the JD-U was showing a refreshing spirit of accommodation towards its ally that helped put its ties with the BJP on a more even keel.
“These developments come as a befitting reply to all those who had been writing obituaries of the JD-U-BJP alliance. Our ties have never been stronger,” BJPLP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi told HT.
To this, NDA watchers point out that JD-U president Sharad Yadav had pointedly blamed the BJP for the alliance’s shattering Lok Sabha defeat at the all-India level, although it won 32 out of 40 seats in Bihar.
The return of the JD-U’s positive sentiment towards the BJP is being ascribed, at least in part, to its plunging ties with the Congress and the Ram Vilas Paswan-led LJP.
The Congress-led regime at the centre has been less than responsive to Bihar’s demand for a special status. Rather, Jagdish Tyter, the new Congress in-charge, has questioned the future of the NDA government in Bihar.
Again, Paswan has had harsh exchanges with the JD-U leadership over its ‘Mahadalit politics’ and the government’s move to evict the LJP from a building housing its state headquarters.
As such, the BJP remains the JD-U’s only unwavering ally for now.