The JD(U) core committee met in Patna on Sunday ahead of a meeting of the National Democratic Alliance scheduled later this week, after which a senior party leader said Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is the face of the NDA in Bihar. Kumar, also the JD(U) national president, held the core committee meeting at his residence.
JD(U) national general secretaries K C Tyagi and Pavan Varma, who arrived from New Delhi, poll strategist Prashant Kishor and a few other state leaders took part in the meeting.
The meeting assumes significance as the BJP-led NDA, which the JD(U) joined in August last year, is scheduled to hold a meeting in Bihar on June 7. During the NDA meeting, to be attended by Kumar, the coalition partners are likely to discuss their strategy in the state for the next Lok Sabha polls.
Emerging out of the chief minister’s residence after the meeting, Varma told reporters that Kumar “is the face of the NDA in Bihar, that is why he is the chief minister. JD(U) is the largest constituent of the coalition”.
Varma’s remark assumes significance amidst speculation in political circles here that the JD(U), which has only two Lok Sabha members, might press for a seat-sharing arrangement commensurate with its strength in the Bihar assembly where it has about 70 MLAs against nearly 50 of the BJP.
Besides the JD(U) and the BJP, the NDA in Bihar comprises Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party and Upendra Kushwaha’s Rashtriya Lok Samata Party.
The BJP had bagged 22 out of the 40 Lok Sabha seats in the state in 2014, when the JD(U) had fought separately.
However, in the wake of the poor show by the BJP in a number of bypolls recently, its allies have started voicing the need for better coordination within the NDA instead of a “big brotherly attitude” displayed by the senior coalition partner.
Asked about Kumar’s renewed demand for special status to Bihar, Varma said “the party had never given up the demand. To fight for this legitimate right of the state is the JD(U)’s commitment”.
He, however, declined to divulge the details of the consultations held with Kumar.