Cracks widen in JD(U)-BJP ties as Nitish goes after Sangh in Bihar

Nitish Kumar, Narendra Modi, Bihar, Chief Minister, JD(U), alliance
The monetary benefits that Nitish Kumar continues to shower on his ministers and lawmakers comes despite the fact that many hail from affluent families. Photo: PTI.

Has Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar gotten “suspicious” of the activities of the RSS, the ideological fountainhead of the BJP with whose support he runs his government in the state? The question is being hotly debated after a letter was issued by the Bihar Police Special Branch seeking details about the activities of the RSS and its 18 affiliates active in the state. The intelligence wing reports directly to the chief minister since he also heads the Home portfolio. Incidentally, it was Nitish who had once advocated “RSS-Mukt Bharat”.

Although Nitish has been running the NDA government in Bihar since 2005, this was the first time that the intelligence wing of the state police was asked to secretly gather information about the activities of the RSS and its 18 affiliates.

“Gather detailed information about the RSS and its affiliates and send the report within a week. Treat this as urgent,” says a letter issued by the Special Branch.

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The RSS’s affiliates about which the formation was sought included Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal, Hindu Jagran Samiti, Dharm Jagran Samanway Samiti, Muslim Rashtriya Manch, Hindu Rashtra Sena, Durga Vahini, Swadeshi Jagran Manch, Bhartiya Kisan Sangh, Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh, Akhil Bhartiya Vidyathi Parishad and Hindu Mahasabha.

Interestingly, the letter was issued barely two days before Prime Minister Narendra Modi was to take oath for the second time and it became clear that the JD(U) was not going to have due representation in the Modi government. A flurry of political activities followed thereafter in the state, indicating differences between the two NDA partners, and is beyond repair.

What seems to be confirming this is the “timing” of the leak of the Special Branch letter to the media and reactions by the BJP leaders urging the central leadership to take note. While the letter was written some two months back, it has surfaced in media circles only now when the relations between the two partners have deteriorated and the demand for a BJP chief minister is slowly gaining traction.

Also read: How Bihar’s turnaround hero Nitish Kumar lost all his aura

Leaders like Union minister Giriraj Singh and Sachidanand Rai have publicly questioned the role of the chief minister while senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi, Nitish’s deputy, has tacitly appealed to all parties seeking a change in their stand towards Article 370. Nitish has been strongly vocal against the abrogation of the Article 370, which grants autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir.

A section of BJP leaders now strongly want to project a party leader as its chief ministerial candidate for Bihar, now that Nitish has been seeking votes in the name of Narendra Modi government’s achievements. All through the 40-day-long election campaign, Nitish had sought votes on the achievements of the Modi government at the Centre, by especially citing how the Modi government allowed the Indian army to conduct airstrikes on terror camps across the border.

The development assumes much political significance in view of the next assembly elections in Bihar which are barely a year away. The chief minister has been virtually alarmed by the sudden increase in incidents of communal tension in the state and has declared not to tolerate this at any cost. Several districts of Bihar reported communal tension during Ramanavmi last year which alarmed the JD(U), considering that a significant section of Muslims have been voting for the party for long.

During this year’s Lok Sabha polls again, the Muslims largely voted for the JD(U). The way the JD(U) made a near clean sweep in the Muslim-dominated Seemanchal region is a clear proof of this. This region had been the traditional bastion of the RJD led by Lalu Prasad, but this year, the JD(U) rewrote history.

Political analysts, however, feel Nitish could suffer serious setbacks if he chooses to go alone, especially considering the polarisation of votes on communal lines.

So, has Nitish gotten wary of the BJP’s gameplan? Although the official line is that everything is fine with the NDA, reports are that the BJP is not happy with Nitish for not inducting any BJP leader in his cabinet during the recent cabinet expansion and for repeatedly opposing its key plans such as triple talaq, Article 370 and Uniform Civil Code.

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