The “helplessness” of Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, who also heads the JD-U was on display once again when his party announced to stay away from by-elections to three seats ~ one Lok Sabha and two Assembly ~ in Bihar.
Kumar had dumped the erstwhile ruling Grand Alliance to return to his old ally, NDA, in July last year and formed the new government with the BJP’s support. The JD-U men had then claimed that Bihar will move faster than ever before with “double engine”, given the fact that the BJP is in power at the Centre and also in the state, but the present scenario says something else.
While every party is gearing up for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections due early next year, the JD-U has surprised everyone by announcing not to join the poll arena.
Though none of the three seats going to by-polls are represented by the JD-U, the way the party has walked out of the contest has stunned political bigwigs.
The move, experts say, is aimed at “pleasing” the BJP to get good number of seats for the JD-U in the next LS polls, which doesn’t look easy as 33 out of the total 40 seats of Bihar are now represented by the NDA partners. Thus, in only seven seats can the JD-U stake claims.
Same is the situation for the party as far as the Assembly seats are concerned. Although the JD-U won 71 seats in the 2015 Assembly elections but that was possible only due to the support of then allies, RJD and the Congress. The JD-U alone doesn’t have the support base to win the seats.
The chief minister was silent even when Bihar was not given anything substantial in this year’s Budget. Both the Opposition and the businessmen expressed disappointment over the neglect of the state in the Budget. “The people of Bihar particularly the industrial sector were expecting special scheme or financial package but their hopes were dashed,” Bihar Chamber of Commerce and Industries (BCCI) chairperson PK Agarwal rued. The Bihar Opposition raised similar issues.
The chief minister on the other hand said, “It would not be correct to say that Bihar has been ignored in the Union Budget. The state’s share in tax revenue has been put at Rs 76,000 crore. We expected much less. The decision (for the political realignment) was taken in the interests of Bihar”.
In another move, the chief minister defended RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat who had reportedly said his organisation could assemble its cadres to fight much faster than the Indian army. “What is wrong in it? As per my information he has talked about readiness of his organisation for the defending country’s border. It should be welcomed if any civil organisation does that,” Kumar said.