The BJP, which is part of the National Democratic Alliance government in Bihar, appears to be divided over the ruling alliance’s chief ministerial face in the state assembly polls due next year. A section of the party is pushing for a candidate of its own while others, including deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi, prefer to go to the polls under the leadership of chief minister Nitish Kumar.
In fact, two days after former union minister and BJP MLC Sanjay Paswan suggested that Kumar make way for a leader from the saffron party for the top post in the state, which led to a sharp response from the JD(U), Modi stepped in to clarify that the incumbent CM was the NDA “Captain” in Bihar and would remain so.
“@Nitish Kumar is the captain of the NDA in Bihar will remain its captain in next assembly elections in 2020 also. When captain is hitting 46 defeating rivals by innings where is the Q of any change,” he tweeted Wednesday morning.
However, the tweet was deleted after some time only to reappear about an hour later.
Modi, who has served for long as deputy CM under Nitish Kumar, had said in the Assembly in July that the NDA would contest the assembly polls next year under the leadership of Kumar.
However, this time, Modi’s message does not seem to have gone down well with a section of the BJP, which called his tweet as his “personal opinion”.
“This could be his personal opinion. As of now, Nitish Kumar is the chief minister and the NDA and state has progressed by leaps and bounds under him. Why talk of 2020 right away? Leadership will be decided at that time,” said BJP’s state vice-president Mirtunjay Tiwary.
“The NDA’s chief ministerial face will be decided by PM Narendra Modi and Amit Shah,” he said.
Tiwary’s view was seconded by agriculture minister Prem Kumar.
BJP MLA from Kumhrar, Arun Kumar Sinha, however, urged NDA leaders to maintain unity and help the alliance return to power with more seats.
State BJP spokesperson Nikhil Anand, while reacting to Sanjay Paswan’s statement, said, “Airing public opinion or personal views is entirely different from official stand of the party.”
However, what has lent weight to Paswan’s comment on Monday is the fact that the BJP was yet to talk of any disciplinary action against him, unlike in the case of another party MLC Sachidanad Rai, who was issued a show cause notice in July for his statements against Kumar.
Meanwhile, the spat between ruling allies JD(U) and BJP spat gave Opposition RJD an opportunity to corner the chief minister.
Leader of Opposition Tejashwi Prasad Yadav, in a tweet, asked, “Is is not true that honourable Nitish Kumar got votes in the name of PM Modi without releasing his party’s manifesto and got 16 of his party leaders elected as MPs on BJP manifesto (in the 2019 LS poll)…Is it not true that he has been supporting the BJP on every Bill?.. then how come he is different.”
Ties between the two ruling allies have been uneasy ever since Kumar turned down “one seat offer” for joining the union cabinet, saying he favoured a proportionate representation and was not interested in having “symbolic presence”.
Matters turned for the worse when BJP leaders took umbrage over a letter by Bihar Police’s special branch seeking details of RSS activists and their activities in the state.
Sep 12, 2019 10:23 IST