BJP can be sent packing with 50 seats in 2024 if..: Nitish at crucial JD(U) meet

Updated on Sep 04, 2022 08:28 AM IST

Janata Dal (United)’s national executive authorised Bihar CM to work for uniting Opposition parties against the BJP in the run-up to 2024 polls

Bihar CM Nitish Kumar arrives at National Executive meeting of Janata Dal United at party office in Patna on Saturday. (Santosh Kumar/HT)
Bihar CM Nitish Kumar arrives at National Executive meeting of Janata Dal United at party office in Patna on Saturday. (Santosh Kumar/HT)
By, Patna

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar Saturday asserted the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) can be sent packing with just 50 seats in the 2024 parliamentary elections by a united Opposition and said he would be leaving for Delhi after two days to work for a larger Opposition alliance. Kumar was speaking at a meeting of his party Janata Dal (United)’s national executive, which authorised him to work for uniting Opposition parties against the BJP in the run-up to 2024 polls, party leader and state minister Ashok Choudhary said. (Also Read | Nitish targets BJP after JD(U) MLAs switch sides in Manipur)

“I am leaving for Delhi after the JD(U) meetings. I am not interested in being the prime ministerial candidate, but I do want to strive for the Opposition unity, which is the need of the hour. If the Opposition gets united, setting aside their differences, the result will definitely show in 2024 and BJP could be confined to less than 50 seats. I have been in touch with several leaders and will discuss the future road map,” he said.

The development comes less than a month after JD(U) parted ways with its old ally BJP and aligned with Lalu Yadav’s RJD, Congress and other parties in Bihar to form a new government with Kumar staying as the chief minister.

Stung by the defection of five JD(U) MLAs in Manipur to the BJP on Friday, a day ahead his party’s national executive meeting, Kumar lashed out at his former ally and said the picture would be different in 2024 if the Opposition unites.

JD(U) had contested 38 seats and won six in the 60-member Manipur Assembly in the state elections held in March this year.

“All the MLAs (from Manipur) had planned their visit to Patna for the national executive meeting and this has happened. People are watching the behaviour of the BJP. There was conspiracy against JD(U) in 2020 (Bihar polls) also and reduce its seats. More disturbances may be in the offing. There can be attempts to fan communal tension in the society. Therefore, I urge all the party leaders to be extra cautious for the next two years,” Kumar was quoted as saying during his address at the party conclave by a JD(U) leader who did not wish to be named.

This is the first defection of JD(U) MLAs to BJP after the chief minister’s party snapped ties with BJP.

In 2020, when the two parties were allies, six of the seven JD(U) legislators in Arunachal Pradesh had joined BJP. Last month, the seventh too switched to BJP.

Meanwhile, at it national executive meeting on Saturday, JD(U) also passed a resolution which alleged there is an “undeclared emergency” in the country under the BJP government which is “trying to silence” Opposition voices by “misusing” probe agencies.

The BJP government at the Centre is labelling the democratic right of dissent as “treason”, it alleged.

The resolution said the country is looking for an alternative to the BJP and asked all opposition parties to sink their differences and unite.

It also accused the BJP of stoking “communal frenzy” in the country. “Minorities are being targeted. Intolerance and extremism have increased in society. Dalits and tribals are being harassed,” the resolution said.

The party also slammed the ruling BJP for what it called were its authoritarian tendencies and hit out at the ruling party for “destabilising” non-BJP governments in several states, including in Delhi and Jharkhand.

In all, two resolutions were passed in the meeting.

BJP, meanwhile, kept up its attacks on Kumar. Party leader and Rajya Sabha MP Sushil Kumar Modi, who has served as CM Kumar’s deputy in Bihar for more than a decade, was quick to take a swipe. “After Arunachal, Manipur is also JD(U)-free. Laluji will make Bihar also JD(U)-free very soon,” he tweeted.

JD(U) president Rajiv Ranjan alias Lalan Singh said BJP had shown its character yet again. “Even when we were allies, they did the same in Arunachal. They will only learn in 2024. They are panicky about 2024 and resorting to such tactics in every state — be it Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi. Jharkhand, but people are also watching. They tried it in Bihar also, but nothing happened,” he said.

JD(U)’s spokesman Neeraj Kumar said this was the character of the BJP of today under Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home Minister Amit Shah, which is totally different from the Atal-Advani era. “BJP now doesn’t want any other party to grow. But people of India are watching.”


    Arun Kumar is Senior Assistant Editor with Hindustan Times. He has spent two-and-half decades covering Bihar, including politics, educational and social issues.

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