Patna, Dec. 24: In maintaining a stoic silence after Narendra Modi’s Gujarat hat-trick, Nitish Kumar has taken an “excessively cautious approach”, feel senior leaders of the JD(U), just not to antagonise the minority voters.
“He has been very forthcoming in congratulating leaders, even from opposition camps, on winning the elections. But his silence on the Gujarat verdict reflects more his fears to lose the Muslim goodwill than his actual dislike for Modi,” said a senior JD(U) strategist.
In fact, more than the undeclared “ambition” of the two leaders to become Prime Minister or their ideological differences, the ground reality in Bihar has made the JD(U)-BJP tie more “strenuous” in the wake of Modi gaining his political stature. If Nitish continues with the dalliance with the BJP amid the shrill outcry from the saffron cadres to project Modi as the prime ministerial candidate, the JD(U) insiders revealed, he faces twin risks. First he will lose the goodwill of the Muslims who still perceive Modi as “enemy” of the community in this part of the land. Second, if the 14 per cent of Muslim voters go with that of 18 per cent Yadavs in the state, Bihar might witness a comeback for the “M-Y” combine of Lalu Prasad.
That Lalu Prasad has been pulling impressive crowed at the Parivartan Yatra these days must be already causing “anxious moments” to Nitish. Lalu will leave no stone unturned to expose Nitish’s “behind the scene” nexus with the Hindutva brigade in the event of Nitish continuing with his tie with the BJP, particularly after it became obvious that Modi was in the forefront of the BJP leadership, Nitish’s aides fear.
In the event of abrogating the alliance with the saffron party, Nitish is also feared to lose the upper castes — mainly the powerful Bhumihars, Rajputs and Brahmins — who still command a considerable clout at the ground level besides the business class which traditionally have been voting for the BJP.