Patna: A series of meetings has set tongues wagging about political realignments in Bihar ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, and a worried BJP is in wait and watch mode over the developments.
Within the span of one month, chief minister Nitish Kumar has met Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan, and Union minister Upendra Kushwaha. Madhepura MP Pappu Yadav has met both Nitish and Paswan separately.
“Nitishji could not tolerate Kushwaha and Pappu. The sudden meetings are surprising,” a senior BJP leader conceded under cover of anonymity.
The growing friendship between non-BJP NDA allies is showing its impact. Nitish backed Paswan when the LJP chief cautioned the BJP on its approach towards the minorities. Kushwaha, who has gone public against Nitish so many times, has stopped making noises against the chief minister. Pappu, who was rebuffed by Tejashwi Yadav, has stopped speaking against Nitish.
The BJP sees the developments largely as pressure tactics to wrangle more tickets in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The BJP has 22 out of Bihar’s 40 MPs. After the re-entrance of Nitish in the NDA, there was speculation about seats of Kushwaha’s RLSP and Paswan’s LJP, which have three and six Lok Sabha MPs respectively, being sliced.
However, the NDA partners want the BJP to make a sacrifice. BJP leaders, on the other hand, say they are willing to exchange seats with allies but not willing to contest fewer than the 22 seats they have.
Another theory swirling in political circles is that the an anti-BJP and anti-Lalu alliance is in the offing before the Lok Sabha polls.
The coming together of Nitish, Paswan, Kushwaha and possibly Jitan Ram Manjhi can create a significant vote bank, the proponents of this theory argue, pointing out that all the NDA allies in Bihar are unhappy over the BJP playing big brother. They also do not rule out the possibility of the Congress joining this front.
However, there are very few takers for this theory. Most point out how Nitish’s “third front” fizzled out in 2014.
“Elections in Bihar are becoming increasingly bipolar where the third front comes a distant third,” said a senior BJP leader, stressing that his party would like to wait and watch before taking any decision.
Courtesy: The Telegraph