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Nitish 2.0: Bihar CM will have to deal with a more assertive, aggressive BJP

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar could find the BJP a tougher ally than it was earlier, ready to aggressively push its agenda.

india Updated: Jul 29, 2017 00:54 IST
Vijay Swaroop
Vijay Swaroop
Hindustan Times, Patna
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar (left) with BJP leader Sushil Modi at the Raj Bhawan in Patna on Thursday.
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar (left) with BJP leader Sushil Modi at the Raj Bhawan in Patna on Thursday.(Santosh Kumar/HT Photo)

Patna Chief minister Nitish Kumar may have to work with a more assertive and aggressive BJP than the party he allied with earlier, when the saffronites readily played second fiddle, experts and political leaders say.

Kumar begins a fresh innings heading an NDA government but the scenario has changed radically despite the fact that the BJP has been reduced to 53 MLAs from the 91 it had in 2010.

For one, the BJP’s reach now extends through the length and breath of the country, including Bihar’s immediate neighbours - Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand.

“There is no denying the fact that new alliance will be different from what existed in earlier when Kumar was in complete command and things moved in the desired direction,” said DM Diwakar, a political scientist from the AN Sinha Institute.

“BJP is a force now and you cannot rule out the emergence of Hindu affiliates and more agressiveness, etc.,” he added.

Kumar’s ally may also not forget that he has been foraying into neighbouring Jharkhand, and organising rallies for prohibition along with former BJP man and former Jharkhand chief minister Babulal Marandi. This has not gone down well with present Jharkhand CM, Raghubar Das.

Kumar has also been a target of Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath over the BJP’s stance on triple talaq. Kumar had countered the jibe, asking Yogi to first enforce prohibition in UP.

Yogi, who visited Bihar recently, had predicted that the so-called grand alliance won’t last long.

“Nature would not tolerate such an incompatible marriage. There will soon be a cleanliness drive in Bihar,” he said at a rally at Darbhanga.

A top BJP leader of Bihar admitted “it is not the same old BJP”.

“Although we are less in number, the fact is that we have our own agenda and will pursue it,” the leader said seeking anonymity as he was hopeful of a ministerial berth.

Another BJP leader said for a section in the party leaders, the humiliation meted out twice by Kumar -- cancelling a dinner for BJP leaders and withdrawing from the NDA before 2014 general election – still rankled.

Social scientist Saibal Gupta of the Patna-based Asian Development Research Institute, however, felt “things would be smoother for Nitish than it was under GA”.

“Nitish and Sushil Modi were and are like Siamese twins of Bihar politics, working for probity and development. Had it been some hardcore leaders like Giriraj Singh or others, one could have thought of uneasiness. But the present BJP has given Kumar a free hand,” said Gupta.

JD (U) leaders agreed. “Sushil Modi, during a joint address of JD (U) and BJP MLAs at the CM’s residence…made it clear that the BJP always stands for development with justice and good governance agenda of Nitish Kumar.

“He also recalled how PM Modi always admired Kumar for his administrative and governance qualities,” said JD (U) spokesperson Neeraj Kumar.

On the bureaucratic front, officials are hopeful that the “lacklusture” culture under the GA rule will be left behind and work will take off now.

“His return to NDA will ensure a smooth run in Bihar,” said a top bureaucrat.