Nitish Kumar to be NDA face for 2020 Bihar polls: Amit Shah
Bharatiya Janata Party national president and union home minister Amit Shah has made it clear that his party will contest the 2020 Bihar assembly elections in alliance with the Janata Dal (United) and under the leadership of the Nitish Kumar.
Shah’s unequivocal statement puts to rest speculation that the BJP could go it alone in the state in 2020, and also silences a demand from a section of his own party,
In an interview to TV channel News 18, Shah said that the friendship between the BJP and the JD (U) is long- lasting.
The BJP president, who gave up five of his party’s sitting seats to accommodate the JD (U)’s demand during parliamentary elections earlier this year, said “differences of opinion between the two parties should not be allowed to develop into a rivalry.”
He added that in a coalition, each partner can have its own views. The JD (U) not only opposed the Triple Talaq Bill in Parliament but also showed its disagreement on abrogation of Article 370.
Shah’s support of Kumar’s leadership has come as a huge relief for all parties that are part of the National Democratic Alliance led by the BJP in the state. “Now, that the BJP high command has put a stamp on this, where is the doubt. The LJP has reposed faith in Kumar since very beginning,” said union minister and Lok Janshakti Party chief, Ram Vilas Paswan.
The JD(U) also welcomed the statement.
“The JD (U) was confident that party’s (BJP’s) central leadership will ignore statements being issued by BJP leaders from time to time,” said JD (U) national principal general secretary, K C Tyagi.
Over the past two months, several BJP leaders including union minister Giriraj Singh and former union minister and MLC Sanjay Paswan raised their voice against Kumar’s continuation as CM and advocated that the BJP should take up the mantle of state leadership. Singh, in particular, was very critical of Kumar and attacked the state government for its failure to deal with water-logging in state capital .
Shah’s endorsement of Kumar will also send a strong message to NDA workers ahead of by-polls for five assembly seats and a Lok Sabha seat on October 21.
The two parties contested 17 seats each out of the 40 Lok Sabha seats in the state; the remaining six seats went to the LJP. The BJP and the LJP won all their seats while the JD (U) won 16. In the 243 member assembly, JD ((U) has 69 MLAs, BJP 54 and LJP, two.
“The reason why the BJP gave 17 seats to the JD (U) was to keep the alliance intact,” said a BJP leader who asked not to be named. According to this person, the BJP has learnt from the 2015 assembly elections where it went alone (and an alliance of the JD(U) and the Rashtriya Janata Dal won) and also believes Kumar has a greater cadence among the 26% of the state’s population accounted for by extremely backward classes.
Going by 2019 Lok Sabha poll results, the NDA has a clear edge in 218 of the 243 assembly seats, although it is widely believed that people vote differently in assembly and parliamentary elections.
D M Diwakar, political analyst, A N Sinha Institute of Social Studies, said, “In the wake of recent statements issued by BJP leaders targeting him, Nitish Kumar was apprehensive about the prospect in alliance. He started hobnobbing with the RJD. But, BJP seems to have realised that falling back on Kumar was a safer option in Bihar.”