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BJP seeks to clear air on Nitish

National Democratic Alliance to contest the 2020 Bihar Assembly elections under Nitish’s leadership

By Dev Raj in Patna

  • Published 23.07.19, 4:24 AM
  • Updated 23.07.19, 4:24 AM
The JDU, which is led by Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, is a constituent of the National Democratic Alliance.
The JDU, which is led by Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, is a constituent of the National Democratic Alliance. Telegraph file picture

The BJP declared on Monday that the 2020 Assembly polls in Bihar would be contested under the leadership of chief minister and Janata Dal United chief Nitish Kumar.

“At times, doubts are spread in the media about what will happen and whether our alliance will continue or not. Nobody should be in any doubt. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is completely united, and will contest the next Assembly elections under Nitish’s leadership and notch a sterling victory,” senior BJP leader and deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi said.

Sushil was speaking in the legislative Assembly while presenting the state government’s customary reply on the discussions on Bihar the Appropriation Bill – II.

The veteran BJP leader added that the Grand Alliance of the RJD, the Congress and other smaller parties was “a sinking ship, which nobody wants to board”.

Sushil questioned the absence of leader of Opposition Tejashwi Prasad Yadav from the House for the past 17 days and said the next Assembly polls would be “15 years before 2005 versus 15 years after 2005, and people would decide what they want.”

“The government that ruled for 15 years before 2005 (read the RJD-led government) turned the state into a shamshan (cremation ground), because of which when the JDU-BJP government came in 2005, it had to start everything from the beginning,” Sushil said.

Sushil cited data to claim how Bihar had progressed in the last 15 years.

His words came as a balm amid continuous friction between the JDU and the BJP, which started during the unsuccessful power-sharing negotiations at the Centre. The JDU had demanded proportionate representation in line with the number of Lok Sabha members.

The strained relations continued through the expansion of Bihar cabinet and JDU’s high-pitch statements about taking a opposite stand to the BJP on issues like the uniform civil code, Article 370, citizenship bill and triple talaq.

Matters snowballed when a letter of Bihar police’s special branch (intelligence wing) directing its officials to gather information on leaders of the RSS and allied organisations was leaked last week, queering the relationship between the JDU and the BJP. The letter was issued on May 28, the time around which the two parties were negotiating the power-sharing formula at the Centre.

Bickering on the leaked letter continued with several BJP leaders trashing the state government and seeking a reply from the government in the legislature. Some of them suggested that the BJP should end its ties with the JDU.

Fed up with the situation, JDU national general secretary Pavan K. Varma said “the BJP should come clear on the anti-alliance statements of its leaders and tell whether they are their personal opinions. The two parties performed very well in the Lok Sabha polls, but if the BJP wants to contest the Assembly elections separately, it would be its decision”.

The annoyance of the JDU was also underscored when Nitish paid a visit to prominent RJD leader Abdul Bari Siddiqui at his residence on Sunday.

Sushil is not considered a hard-liner in the current set-up of the BJP and it remains to be seen how much effect his words would have on his party leaders, including Union minister Giriraj Singh, who has been speaking against the JDU.