The Bihar unit of the BJP has of late started asserting itself after playing second fiddle to its ally — the JD(U) — for seven years. The state party president, C.P. Thakur, is leading the charge.
Within six days, Thakur made high decibel “noises” at least thrice. First, he claimed that his party was ready to contest all the 40 parliamentary seats in the state. Second, he declared that Bihar did not require the special status. Last but not the least, he has invited Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi — chief minister Nitish Kumar’s bête noir — to the party’s Hunkar Rally scheduled to be held next year.
The series of protests faced by Nitish during his Adhikar Rally meetings appear to have convinced the BJP leaders that it was the right time to hit back, leaving the JD(U) leaders sulking.
“If the BJP wants to invite Narendra Modi, it is their internal matter. We have an alliance with deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi, not the entire BJP,” said JD(U) spokesperson Neeraj Kumar.
The deputy chief minister has been uncharacteristically silent and avoiding the media since Thakur started making the noises. There is an explanation for Thakur’s series of statements and the deputy chief minister’s silence, said sources in the BJP.
“Thakurji has the sanction from the central leaders to speak and Modiji has been asked to remain silent because all his utterances has helped Nitish in the past. He was even projected by Nitish as the prime ministerial candidate,” said another BJP MLA, stressing that party members were seething in anger.
The deputy chief minister — the poster boy of the party — has of late started losing his popularity. When the BJP MP of Purnea, Uday Singh, held a Vedna Rally in his constituency and basted Nitish’s claim on good governance, Modi had stated that action would be initiated against him at an appropriate time.
The MP retorted on Sunday: “I am waiting for that appropriate time. The BJP does not feel I have done anything wrong.”
He, however, insisted that he had not said anything against Nitish.
BJP MLA Rameshwar Chaurasia backed the onslaught on the JD(U). “There is nothing wrong in the statements of Thakurji. If the JD(U) is entitled to hold a rally, so are we and Narendra Modi is our leader,” he said.
During the past five years, Nitish virtually arm-twisted the BJP more than once. Narendra Modi was not allowed to enter Bihar and his posters could not be put up. He also forced the BJP to concede an extra Rajya Sabha seat to the JD(U).
“It is time to reassert ourselves because Nitish is going the Lalu way. Lalu came to power with the BJP support and then sidelined us in the name of secularism,” said a BJP minister.
“The chief minister should note that Lalu Prasad has been attracting bigger crowds in his recent meetings than him. People are fed up with rampant corruption,” said a senior BJP leader.