Patna, March 31: Rajnath Singh today virtually put the strained JD(U)-BJP tie in the state under additional duress by including C.P. Thakur and Rameshwar Chourasia — known as not-so-close to chief minister Nitish Kumar — in the party’s new team.
The inclusion of Thakur and Chourasia is being viewed in the political circles here as the BJP president’s proclivity to fulfil Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi’s ambition to capture the national centre stage. He cared little for Nitish’s “reservations” against his Gujarat counterpart, said observers.
Thakur has been made the national vice-president of the BJP. Chourasia would hold the post of secretary.
“By drafting in Thakur and Chourasia, Rajnath has strongly signalled his love for NaMo (read Narendra Modi) supporters over the protagonists of the alliance in Bihar,” said a senior BJP leader. Explaining the logic behind the move, he said the party’s assessment at the national-level revealed that Modi was the only leader capable of catching the imagination of voters across the country.
While the preference for the diehard Narendra Modi supporters and Nitish baiters in the Rajnath’s team prompted the JD(U) to cautiously react on the development, it provided the RJD with the opportunity to “tease” Nitish. The top layer of the JD(U) preferred to stay silent on the development, while the party spokesperson, Neeraj Kumar, said: “The JD(U) has nothing to do with the internal structuring or restructuring of the BJP. But the party stands on its resolution to have a secular prime ministerial candidate.”
Senior leaders from both the JD(U) and the BJP resorted to caution while speaking on the alliance given the sensitivity involved in it. But they were apprehensive about the distance growing between the JD(U) and the BJP. “It is not known if the BJP, or for that matter the NDA, would replace the UPA in 2014. What is known is the fact that both the BJP and the JD(U) would suffer heavily if the alliance breaks in Bihar,” said a BJP MLA.
Thakur and Chourasia, however, had no qualms in cheering Narendra Modi after their names figured in the party’s national team. “I am already branded as a Narendra Modi supporter,” Thakur said. “It will be in the party’s interest if it projects the Gujarat chief minister as the prime ministerial nominee soon.”
On the JD(U)’s strong reservations against Narendra Modi, Chourasia said: “Solely the BJP — not the JD(U) or any other party — will decide on who will lead it at the national-level. It is a matter of pride for the party that it has a leader like Narendra Modi, known for his charismatic personality and administrative acumen the world over in the post Vajpayee-Advani era.”
Chourasia — a known baiter of the chief minister and his deputy for the past five years — seldom got a position either in the state BJP or the NDA. Deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi — a protagonist of the alliance enjoying his “vice-like” grip over the party in the state — sidelined Thakur by replacing him as the state party chief by Mangal Pandey in January this year. But today he hailed the inclusion of Thakur and others from the state in the national team of the BJP.
Besides Thakur and Chourasia, the state BJP leaders included in Rajnath’s team are Motihari MP Radhamohan Singh as the president of the party’s disciplinary committee, Bhagalpur MP Shahnawaz Hussain as the member of the central election committee and Rajiv Pratap Rudy as the national general secretary.