RJD chief Lalu Prasad’s decision to accept Nitish Kumar as the CM candidate of the “secular alliance” in Bihar has brought the focus back on the BJP, which remains reluctant to name its face for the September-October election.
While former deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi remains BJP’s most preferred choice for the CM’s post, in the case of party coming to power, it is yet to take a call on whether or not to project a face ahead of the poll.
“The opinion on whether or not to project a CM candidate remains divided. A majority are of the view that it should not be done. The final decision would be taken by the parliamentary board of the party,” a BJP leader in Delhi told HT. Some others, however, insist that the party should not go faceless against Nitish Kumar, who may have lost electoral ground in the Lok Sabha election but remains a popular face in the state poll.
The BJP’s central leadership remains apprehensive about sabotage by others aspirants if a face was projected. This, they admit, would be detrimental to the party in a do-or-die battle.
“It becomes easier to select a person if you have the numbers. We did not find it difficult in Haryana, Maharashtra and Jharkhand where the party did not project a face but appointed a CM who did not belong to the dominant caste of that state,” another BJP leader said.
A party source said it was almost decided that SuMo, as Sushil Modi is fondly called in party circles, would be the CM in case of party’s victory and this was being projected through different platform to address the leadership issue to some extent.
Modi is placed at the top of the pecking order in the party in Bihar and regularly holds a Janta Durbar like CM Nitish Kumar. Recently he also announced that the BJP would waive interest on farm loans after coming to power. “All party meetings are held at his residence. He takes the main seat with party president and other senior leaders on his side,” a BJP functionary in Patna said.
BJP leader Shrikant Sharma said Lalu’s admission that he was “consuming poison” in accepting Kumar as the CM candidate reflected the desperation in the opposition camp.