| Supporters cheer during the Adhikar Rally. Picture by R Bharat |
New Delhi, March 17: “Special rights” for the state can wait, not the political aspiration of the leaders.
Most of the JD(U) MPs, legislators and others who had camped in Delhi to prove their worth and secure party tickets felt the break-up of the JD(U)-BJP alliance could be bad news for both the parties. All of them asserted their faith in the leadership of Nitish Kumar but feared their personal ambition to become MPs and MLAs could be jeopardised if the JD(U) decides to walk alone, making an issue out of Narendra Modi’s ascension.
“When two brothers part it is but natural that both of them will suffer. If the JD(U)-BJP alliance breaks then both will face electoral setbacks for both,” felt Kutumba MLA Lallan Ram, who hurried to add that it was his personal opinion and hoped the “two brothers” would remain together and face the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
Ram, like his other party colleagues, had come here to listen keenly to Nitish to get signals about his political positioning, given his strong reservations for Modi. All the MLAs seated in a special enclosure on the right side of the dais repeatedly stood to hail the leadership of Nitish.
At the end of Nitish’s speech, all the elected members were filled with fears about a possible divorce with the BJP but many hoped their “master politician” leader was only making the saffron partner jittery. “Nitishji is only warning the BJP against its effort to project Modi. He will never go with the Congress,” said a senior Bihar minister. He, however, looked stumped being asked how Nitish refrained from raising anything against the UPA, despite a host of issues like series of corruption scandals and price rise.
“He should have raised these issues. Probably, he did not want to concentrate on his core issue of special status to Bihar. After all, he is trying to unite Bihar behind him on this issue,” the minister said.
The JD(U) leaders said the 17-year-old alliance had brought the backward and upper castes on one platform and if it splits then would not only wreck the social harmony in Bihar but also the political dynamics.
“We are grassroots politicians and I can tell you with authority that separation with the BJP would not be good. Those who are advising Nitishji to go alone do not know the ground reality,” said Vijay Kumar Sahni, a strong contender for the Muzaffarpur Lok Sabha seat held by Jainarain Nishad, who is all set to be dropped.
Sahni, hailing from the extremely backward community, refused to believe that Nitish had sent out positive signals to the Congress and ignored the BJP and strongly denied any possibility of separation between the two partners. “There is no chance of separation with the BJP. Our political rival Lalu Prasad is eagerly hoping that we part so that he can win some seats. Nitishji is a smart politician,” said Sahni, a product of the anti-Congress Jaiprakash Narayan movement, who still feels any attachment with the Congress would “self-destructive”.
“Ending ties with the BJP over the Modi issue could fetch us a large chunk of the Muslim votes but it may not be enough to win us the number of seats we want to in 2014 to claim our rights,” said a JD(U) MP, refusing to be identified. This MP identifies himself more with the party president Sharad Yadav, who is believed to be strongly opposed parting with the BJP.
“Nitishji will snap ties if Modi is projected as the prime ministerial candidate. But that will never happen”, said MLA, Lallan Ram. Many MLAs like Ram had spent lot of money to fetch crowds to Delhi and hoped they can earn it again by winning the next election.
To keep leaders like Ram happy, BJP spokesperson and MP Shahnawaz Hussain sought to reach out to Nitish and said the NDA government would give special rights to Bihar. “The NDA government would give special rights to Bihar and help out all other backward states. Congress will never do anything,” Hussain said.