Patna: The BJP’s “docile” allies seem to have developed swagger with the 2019 Lok Sabha elections nearing.
“I am no bandhua majdoor (bonded labourer) of the BJP even though I am in NDA, nor was I a bandhua majdoor of Lalu when I was with him,” Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan declared on Tuesday while reacting to questions related to growing social strife in the country.
Even while defending the performance of the Narendra Modi government in the last four years, the Lok Janshakti Pary (LJP) chief came out strongly in favour of chief minister Nitish Kumar’s demand for special status to Bihar and stressed that Nitish’s motive cannot be questioned.
Nitish has re-raised the special status demand at a time when the Narendra Modi government has put a lid on the special status category. The move has already cost the BJP an ally in the form of Andhra Pradesh chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu.
“Suddenly raising the issue of special status on the pretext of the 15th Finance Commission does not make sense,” remarked a senior BJP leader, stressing that the 14th Finance Commission had virtually nullified the concept of special status to be given to any state.
The BJP is worried over growing camaraderie between Nitish, Paswan and Upendra Kushwaha. The RLSP leader and Nitish recently met at 1 Aney Marg.
After the formation of NDA II government in Patna last year, the BJP made it clear that it was no longer willing to play second fiddle as it did during NDA 1. A series of events seemed to send a message: Prime Minister Modi ignoring Nitish’s request to make Patna University a central university, the increased activities of gau rakshaks and the brouhaha over the release of the film Padmaavat, and the appointment of a director-general of police whose role is questioned in the infamous Bhagalpur communal riots.
However, during the last three months, Nitish has begun to air a somewhat independent stand, as evidenced by his announcing sops for minorities.
The arithmetic of the last Lok Sabha poll results – the NDA won 31 of Bihar’s 40 seats, 22 of them going to the BJP – makes it compulsory for the JDU, the LJP and the RLSP to join hands to increase their bargaining power to get more seats.
Paswan on Tuesday ducked the question if his party would be given seven seats under the NDA alliance in 2019 – the number he was given in 2014.
“The situation for seats is quite tight in both sides,” remarked a BJP leader, insisting that the newfound love between Nitish, Paswan and Kushwaha is for creating pressure for seats.
“In the Grand Alliance the RJD would like to contest the maximum number of seats, leaving the allies as few seats as possible. The same situation prevails in the NDA. Nitish now lacks credibility and is unlikely to switch over to the Grand Alliance or contest after forming a third force. The maximum he can hope is to get as many seats as possible within the NDA.”
Courtesy: The Telegraph