With state assembly elections just over a year ahead, muscle flexing becomes the norm among Bihar’s ruling coalition

Can the BJP take an assertive Nitish Kumar lightly?

By Dheeraj Kumar

Patna:Ahead of Bihar Assembly election scheduled in fag end of next year, uncertainty rules the roost in the state politics as it is apparently premature to predict on which side camel will sit.

Leaders from the ruling coalition, the Janata Dal (United) and the Bharatiya Janata Party are stretching their arms in show of their strength but their swords have not crossed each other so far.

So, they have to take utmost care not to misjudge the situation as it apparently happened in the case of BJP Member of Legislative Council Sachchidanand Rai, who had been show caused now after he made vitriolic remark against chief minister Nitish Kumar. His remark came after it was revealed state intelligence wing was allegedly snooping on office bearers of Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh and its affiliates.

But this instance was definitely not an instance in an isolation as in a series of political innuendos, chief minister Nitish Kumar had paid a visit to the residence of Opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Abdul Bari Sidiqqui at Rupaspur in Darbhanga district creating another ripple in NDA circle.

Former chief minister Rabri Devi, wife of RJD chief Lalu Prasad said everything was fine in her party and even ridiculed BJP for going jittery following the visit.

“The chief minister was on a visit to flood ravaged areas in Darbhanga. Siddiqui ji’s village was also flooded, he went there. There is nothing more to it,” she said.

Some political analysts considered it yet another sign of chief minister Nitish Kumar`s rising interest in RJD. But a tinge of seriousness to the issue was attached when deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi had declared in the state assembly that NDA would contest 2020 state assembly elections under leadership of Mr Kumar and he would become CM again.

Modi said that NDA would contest next Bihar Assembly elections under the leadership of Mr Kumar on the basis of performance of the government during the last 15 years since NDA was voted to power in the state in 2005. Attempt was being made to create confusion but it was certain that NDA would contest 2020 Assembly elections under the leadership of Nitish Kumar and he would become CM again, he remarked.

Pawan Verma, a former diplomat and a close aide of chief minister Nitish Kumar only added fuel to political fire when he had dared BJP to contest assembly election separately if it willed so. JD (U) is also ready for it. His statement didn’t make much furore in NDA camp as one could expect from such a loaded one reaffirming again one cannot simply draw a definite pattern from these statements.

The issue of alleged relationship between JD (U) and BJP had really turned murkier after Narendra Modi government offered symbolic representation to JD (U) in union cabinet, infuriating Nitish Kumar in the process.

Later, Nitish Kumar also did not induct any BJP law maker into his cabinet when he expanded his ministry only after a few days.

But the relationship between BJP and JD (U) had come under scanner after ‘expose’ of RSS snooping case.

Bihar Special Branch Department’s police superintendents in his letter dated May 28 had directed all deputy police superintendents and others officers of the special department to submit a report on office bearers of RSS and its sister organisations.

Later, additional director general of police (special branch) G S Gangwar had sought to clarify that such a step was initiated following the receipt of inputs on threats to the security of office bearers of RSS and its sister organisations. Gangwar said that the letter was issued by police superintendent (special branch) as the seriousness of the issue was not appropriately considered at that level. He said the matter was being investigated but refused to make any comment on the contents of the letter issued at SP (special branch) level.

He said it was being probed why the SP had not taken the consent of senior officers before issuing the letter.

Gangwar`s media briefing, largely perceived as a damage control exercise, failed to cut much ice as BJP leaders were largely furious over Nitish government`s ‘mis-adventure’.

BJP leaders viewed it not less than a misadventure of Nitish government when BJP was in the government.

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