Nitish nod for Prashant Kishor and blessings for BJP
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal United will go solo in the Assembly elections in Haryana, Jharkhand, Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir and will not be a part of the BJP-led alliance while contesting polls in these states.
The JDU declared that it had no problem with its national vice-president Prashant Kishor offering his poll consultancy services through his organisation I-PAC to Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamul Congress.
However, the JDU expressed the wish that the BJP would win the 2021 Assembly elections in Bengal.
Kishor attended the national executive. He did not speak at the meeting but met Nitish separately and clarified about his talks with Mamata.
“Prashant had a talk with Nitish and the issue has been settled. Our party has no problem with him working through I-PAC for the Trinamul Congress. However, the JDU has no relation with I-PAC and wants the BJP to come to power in Bengal and Trinamul to lose,” JDU secretary-general K.C. Tyagi said.
The decision by the JDU to contest Assembly elections in the four states on its own came at its national executive meeting held at Nitish’s official residence in Patna on Sunday.
The JDU is a member of the NDA and heads its government in Bihar. It also supports NDA governments at the Centre and in Nagaland.
“Our party has decided to contest the Assembly elections in Haryana, Jharkhand, Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir on its own. It will be a part of our effort to make the JDU a national party. It already has the status of a state party in Bihar and Arunachal Pradesh,” Tyagi said.
Tyagi added that the BJP had in any case not given any proposal to the JDU asking it to become a part of the NDA in the four states where polls are expected by the end of this year or early 2020.
“We have no relation with the NDA in states outside Bihar. So, we will show our party’s strength there by contesting the elections. We supported the Nagaland government on BJP president Amit Shah’s request. As far as the Delhi Assembly elections are concerned, the JDU can have its own chief minister if the people of Bihar and Purvanchal (eastern parts of Uttar Pradesh) want,” Tyagi said.
This is not the first time that the JDU is going it alone in state elections. It has harboured the ambition of becoming a national party for the past several years and contested the Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Delhi, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Bengal and a few other states in the past, notching up a dismal performance.
The BJP downplayed its ally’s plans and pointed that the alliance between them was only in Bihar. The BJP asserted that this won’t affect its performance in the four states.
BJP spokesperson Prem Ranjan Patel said: “Since our alliance is only in Bihar, the JDU is free to contest polls separately in other states. Our party’s prospects won’t be affected if the JDU goes it alone in Jharkhand, Delhi, Haryana and Jammu and Kashmir. It is a fact that BJP’s vote bank is completely dedicated and no other party can wean it away. Besides, our contest in the four states will be with parties other than the JDU.”
Tyagi sought to scotch speculation about a rift between the BJP and the JDU in the light of the former offering it a single cabinet berth in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government at the Centre as “symbolic representation” and the latter rejecting it on May 30.
“Our leader Nitish Kumar has said that the JDU will not be a part of the central government, but will support it from outside and remain a part of the NDA. So many rumours and whisper campaign and slander are going on…. But let me make it clear that our party is a part of the NDA in Bihar and will remain so. We will contest the 2020 Bihar Assembly polls under the NDA’s banner and the leadership of Nitish Kumar,” Tyagi said.