Just days after the union home minister Amit Shah has cut short the speculations over National Democratic Alliance’s chief ministerial face in Bihar, senior JDU leader Pawan Verma shot a letter to Bihar CM Nitish Kumar questioning the compulsion to fight election in alliance with the saffron party in Delhi. Amit Shah while addressing a rally in Vaishali had declared that Nitish kumar will be NDA's point man in the state.
It needs to be mentioned that few state unit leaders including former Union Minister Sanjay Paswan and others have, on multiple occasions demanded that it’s now time for BJP to take over chief ministerial ship of the state as 'the party has enough firepower to win the election on its own'.
However, BJP’s leadership appears to be treading carefully considering that its performance in last few state elections has not been quite encouraging.
Yet, political analysts are of the view that had Amit Shah not settled the issue of leadership, the BJP could have used it to bargain more seats. "Given Nitish's proven credential of being a hard bargainer, BJP has put itself in a more complex situation", one of the analysts opined.
Indeed, vice president Parshant Kishore has already made the JDU's intentions clear. Kishore has suggested that the seat sharing would be done on the formula of 2010 assembly election--In which JDU contested in 141 seats and BJP in 102 seats. However, no mention was made about the LJP which is now an NDA constituent.
Yet, the haste in rallying behind Nitish exposes the shaken confidence of BJP. Let us look into factors which led Amit Shah to this urgency.
First, BJP doesn't want to repeat the Maharashtra like situation where the rivalry with Shiv Sena become vitriolic and reached to the point of no return. Consequently, BJP suffered double setbacks: it lost the key state like Maharashtra where the financial capital of the county is situated, as well as, one of the oldest allies i.e., Shiv Sena parted ways with it.
Beside, after losing Jharkhand election BJP's chips are down. Perhaps the saffron party has come to term with the fact that National issues have fewer takers in the state elections.
Moreover, Nitish though no more as popular as he used to be still, taller among NDA leaders. Additionally, the BJP's state unit is already grappling with factions, zeroing in on a leader for Chief Ministerial candidate would further deepen the strain. Nevertheless, Sushil Modi is one of the most veteran BJP leaders who could have been projected as a CM candidate yet he is not a favorite in current dispensation.
Yet, a Bihar watcher pointed out, “Amit Shah said that the election will be fought in the 'leadership' of Nitish Kumar and deliberately avoided to be specific that he [Nitish] would be chief ministerial candidate'. According to him, “Shah being an astute player has kept his options open with the clever choice of words. Speaking to reporters, Rashtriya Janta Dal leader Tejashawi Yadav has also echoed similar views.
Irrespective of the future ahead, NDA is riding on the Nitish Kumar piggy back in the upcoming election. But the problem with the JDU is that after Parshant Kishore its Pawan Verma who is openly defying the party line.
On the other hand, there is no dearth of analysts in Bihar who are of the view that these two leaders are not defying the leadership of the party but are speaking on the behalf of their boss.