Is Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, once seen as a potential challenger to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, completely caught in the politics of BJP? Kumar’s volte-face in his stand to join the Union Cabinet despite being given only one berth ~ an offer he had summarily rejected barely two years back ~ has not only earned him scorns but left his party in danger as this may cause revolt in JD-U, experts say. JD-U insiders say the party leadership had been pressing for at least four berths in the Modi Cabinet, citing its number of seats in the Lok Sabha.
Till last afternoon, the names of several JD-U leaders continued making rounds for their possible induction. They included RCP Singh, JD-U’s national president Lalan Singh, JD-U parliamentary party leader in the LS Dileshwar Kamat, Chandeshwar Chandravanhi and Ramnath Thakur.
But the final result was a big shocker ~ only RCP Singh was allotted the Cabinet berth and the party agreed! Political experts say the move could prove suicidal for the party since it has virtually established JD-U as the party more cares about Kurmi and Koeri only ~ vegetable-growing castes who are said to derive their lineage from Luv and Kush.
At present, all the four top posts of the JD-U are held by the people from these two communities. While chief minister Kumar and RCP Singh come from Kurmi caste, JDU national parliamentary board chairman Upendra Kushwaha and state party chief Umesh Kushwaha hail from Koeri.
According to experts, it would have conveyed a good message for JD-U voters if the leader other than these heavily-represented castes would have been given the berth. Lalan Singh, upper caste Bhumihar and associated with Kumar for long, could have been a better choice.
As per the reports, the CM, too, preferred Singh to RCP but the BJP leadership opted for RCP for he being a Kurmi. Also, there is a strong resentment prevailing among the Kurmis in UP and the BJP wanted to use him as a tool to pacify this community ahead of next year’s Assembly polls there.
The development has left the JD-U in serious danger, and the Opposition says this could split the ruling party. The prevailing situation could be underlined from the fact that the CM has not conveyed congratulatory message to his party colleague, apparently fearing his support to him could further annoy the rival group already burning with anger.
“The ministerial berth that belonged to Lalan Singh was snatched from him which could lead to split,” predicted LJP MP Chirag Paswan.
The Congress and the RJD, too, have mocked JD-U move. Strangely, Singh was instrumental in splitting the LJP, according to media reports.
It was because of Chirag’s decision to field candidates against JD-U in the recent Assembly polls that the JD-U was pushed to the third slot. In days to come, the JD-U not only inducted both the LJP members in Bihar Assembly and Legislative council but also split LJP.
“Both the LJP and JD-U now find themselves trapped by the BJP… They find themselves to be ditched by the saffron partner,” said an expert.
While former LJP chief Chirag which helped BJP emerge as number one party in Bihar NDA is battling for existence, the JDU which helped BJP gain control of Bihar faces dark future.