Ahead of Bihar polls, BJP readies for tricky negotiations to arrive at seat-sharing formula with JD(U)
The JD(U), the BJP and the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) combine have sent out indications of an amiable alliance that will seek a fresh mandate.Updated: Mar 02, 2020 08:42 IST
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is gearing up for tricky negotiations to arrive at a seat-sharing formula with its ally the Janata Dal (United) and to map its election campaign in the poll-bound Bihar, said senior party leaders aware of the developments. Though the BJP has already announced that it will go to the Bihar election — to be held in November — under the leadership of JD(U) leader and chief minister, Nitish Kumar, there are concerns within the party that it may have to settle for a diminished role in the alliance in light of its electoral reverses in recent assembly polls.
The leaders, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the party, which faced a drubbing in the recent Delhi election, is working to identify the pivot of its poll campaign in the state, where caste equations often hold sway over other issues.
“So far, we have seen how populist announcements trumped the narrative of nationalism that we raised [in Delhi],” said a BJP leader from Bihar.
The JD(U), the BJP and the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) combine have sent out indications of an amiable alliance that will seek a fresh mandate. However, a section of BJP leaders have shown scepticism about Kumar’s intent. They cite last week’s decisions — passing a resolution in Bihar assembly to reject the proposed National Register of Citizens and to adopt the 2010 format for data collection in the National Population Register — without consulting the BJP as a snub.
“There is a section of leaders who feel that Kumar by announcing support for caste-based census and speaking against the NRC has opted for self preservation; but if the parties are to contest as allies, then there has to be agreement on broader issues,” said a BJP leader.
He said the move is also being seen as a red flag and the party’s equation with one more ally could be on the decline. The BJP snapped ties with the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra over power-sharing disagreement.
A third BJP party leader, who dismissed speculation of friction between the alliance partners, however, asserted that the decision to do so holds Kumar and, by extension, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in good stead, as his anti-NRC stand prevented the opposition from making it an election issue. “The demand to have a caste-based census was also raised by Mayawati [Bahujan Samaj Party] and Mulayam Singh [Yadav of the Samajwadi Party]. So, by passing the resolution he has reached out to the other backward classes, whose support he is banking on in the absence of the Muslim-Yadav vote,” the third leader said.
Guru Prakash, an assistant professor at Patna University, said the resolutions have helped Kumar to shift the narrative from governance and also reinforcing his role as the dominant player in the alliance.
“With the anti-NRC resolution, he has sent a message to all those who have stakes in Bihar politics. He has shown the Muslims of his home state that he shares their concerns. He has also taken on the likes of Prashant Kishore and Kanhaiya Kumar who have been building their brand of politics around the NRC and the NPR. But the most important message has been for the ally BJP that he would like to play the big brother in the alliance as he has options available as was evident in his camaraderie with Tejashwi Yadav.”