In the escalating hunt for post poll allies, the party leader being wooed most ardently is Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar.
Nitish’s Janata Dal (United) may be one of the pillars of the NDA alliance; Nitish may refute ad nauseam all speculation about his breaking away. But politicians in rival parties insist he has not spurned their advances.
After Rahul Gandhi’s press conference in Delhi on Tuesday in which he praised Nitish, West Bengal’s CPM chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee joined the fray at a rally in North Kolkata on Thursday night. “Nitish Kumar will go neither with the BJP nor the Congress,” he said. “He will come with us.”
With Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) boss Lalu Prasad and Lok Janshakti Party chief Ram Vilas Paswan both staying away from a cabinet meeting on Friday, still more speculation swirled about their absence being an expression of their annoyance with Rahul’s statements about Nitish. Despite Paswan clarifying he’d had no such intention, despite two other RJD ministers attending the meet, the rumours continued.
On Friday, the Congress appeared to be growing frustrated at Nitish’s coldness to their possible overtures. “I don’t think Congress will make a hero of Nitish,” said Veerappa Moily, who heads the party’s media department.
Why Nitish has suddenly become such an attractive proposition? Field reports indicate his JD(U) is likely to win a large chunk of Bihar’s 40 Lok Sabha seats. He has also acquired the image of being a development oriented CM.
Nitish himself is believed to be not entirely comfortable in the company of the BJP, but neither can he do without them. The BJP has 55 seats in Bihar assembly. If Nitish breaks away, his government will fall.