Now that the poll activities have picked up momentum with the announcement of dates for the Lok Sabha elections, a sudden panic has gripped at least four Union ministers — all from the BJP — over reports that their seats may go to the allies’ share under the Bihar seat-sharing arrangement. The BJP has already surrendered its 13 seats—five of them being sitting seats— following alliance with the JD-U headed by chief minister Nitish Kumar.
The four ministers who may lose their sitting seats to their allies include Giriraj Singh, Union Minister of State for Micro, Small and Medium enterprises, RK Singh, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Power, New and Renewable Energy, Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare and Ram Kripal Yadav who happens to be the Minister of State for Rural Development.
Of the four, the fate of fire brand BJP leader Giriraj Singh remains almost sealed. Giriraj represents Nawada LS seat in south Bihar at present but there are reports that his seat has gone to Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) headed by Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan. This happened after the JDU led by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar staked claim over Munger seat now represented by the LJP in the LS.
The LJP agreed to vacate this seat only on the condition that it will be given Nawada seat. Although a formal announcement to this effect has not been made, state LJP president Pashupati Kumar Pasas told the local media that the Nawada seat has gone to his party’s quota after JD-U staked claim over his sitting seat. The utter disappointment gripping the union minister is underlined from the fact that he even skipped Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rally in Patna held earlier this month though he cited “health ground” for his absence. Likewise, the JD-U is said to have staked claim over Buxur seat currently represented by Choube in the LS.
Initially, Choube had been contesting from eastern Bihar’s Bhagalpur but as this seat went to his party colleague Shahnawaj Hussain in the last LS polls, he went ticketless. Eventually, the BJP leadership accommodated him in western Bihar’s Buxur apparently to calm down possible rebellion in the Brahmin community. Luckily, he emerged victorious in the Modi wave but that Damocles’ swordhangs over his head again.
Another interesting case is that of Yadav, a former acolyte of RJD chief Lalu Prasad. Yadav, a Rajya Sabha member, wanted to contest from Patliputra seat in central Bihar in the last LS polls but as Prasad fielded his eldest daughter Misa Bharti from this seat, Yadav revolted and joined the opposition BJP which was only too quick to offer him ticket from his choice seat. He too managed to win this seat though from small margin of voters. Subsequently, he was inducted into the Modi cabinet for being the “giant killer” but now, he again finds himself being pushed out of his home.
Another minister RK Singh too faces similar situation in the changed political situation. A bureaucrat-turned-politician Singh won from the central Bihar’s Ara seat last time in the Modi wave but now reports are that the JD-U is eying his seat too. However, his supporters are saying he will be contesting even as an Independent if denied ticket.
Observers say the denial of tickets to so many BJP leaders will only trigger revolt in the saffron camp which could very much mar the NDA’s poll prospects. A prominent BJP parliamentarian Shatrughan Sinha has already turned a rebel while another sitting BJP MP Kirti Jha Azad even quit the party to join the Congress. It’s to be seen how the NDA handles this situation.