Trying to make the best of both worlds, will Nitish Kumar fall between two stools
The Janata Dal (United), which is ruling Bihar in coalition with the BJP, appears to be trying to keep its options open for next year’s Lok Sabha elections, with the objective of snatching the best bargain for itself. But this may boomerang in the end.
Earlier, this month, there were reports in the media, which were not contradicted forcefully by either the BJP on the JD(U), that there were differences between them on sharing of the 40 Lok Sabha seats from Bihar in next year’s polls. The BJP, which now holds more than half of the total seats, was loathe to part with any of them, while the JD (U) wanted a quantum jump from the two seats, it had won in 2014. Senior JD (U) leaders in Patna were unofficially asserting, as per newspaper reports, that the party was being offered eight or nine of the total 40 seats, which was not acceptable to it.
There were also reports that, to protect its position in Bihar, the JD (U) was even considering the option of going back to the MAHAGATHBANDHAN, the grand alliance it had forged with Lalu Prasad Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal, RJD, and the Congress in 2015 to defeat the BJP.
While the Congress in the State was ambiguous on the issue, the RJD led by former Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav rejected outright the question of accenting the JD (U) back in the grand alliance fold.
Faced with the rebuff from the RJD, the JD (U) has now asserted that it will not leave the BJP led National Democratic Alliance again. Party General Secretary K. C. Tyagi told select media persons that joining hands with the RJD leaders tainted with corruption was unimaginable.
While second rung JD (U) leaders have been coming out with their views on the issue, significantly the party supremo and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has not spoken clearly on the party’s approach to next year’s Lok Sabha elections. This means that the party chalking out a fresh strategy closer to the Lok Sabha elections cannot be ruled out.
But will this ‘yes and no’ approach work? Most likely, the ambiguous approach may further reduce the JD (U)’s leverage and options. Waiting for the doom’s day may not work.