Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar seems to be heading towards a serious crisis in the wake of the Bihar police ordering an investigation into the activities of the RSS and its 18 affiliates.
The BJP treats the RSS, its ideological mentor, as the “mother organization” and thus, it can be well imagined how much the investigation order has unsettled the BJP leadership. Although the official line is that everything is well in the NDA, the BJP looks to be in no mood to spare Nitish over the issue.
Talks of break up
Even though Nitish has clarified he was totally unaware of the investigation order against the RSS and announced to act against the police official involved in the act, the BJP leaders have just refused to believe this theory. They have questioned as to how an official can dare to order such a sensitive investigation without the consent of the chief minister, who is also the state home minister.
It is too obvious why BJP leaders are now building pressure on the central leadership to break the alliance with Nitish and contest next year’s Assembly elections solo. The demand to break the alliance with Nitish’s JD(U) has come from across ranks – from grass root workers to Union ministers.
“We are very shocked at the government’s investigation order into the RSS. It is like insulting our mother organsation. We fail to understand why the BJP still continues in the Nitish Kumar government. It should instantly break alliance with the Nitush Kumar government. The sooner the better,” said Sachchidanand Rai, a senior lawmaker of the party. “The central leadership should take a decision in this regard quickly,” he added.
Singh is king?
What has made the situation more precarious for Nitish Kumar is the fact that Union minister Giriraj Singh, known to be close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, has joined the bandwagon of BJP functionaries demanding a break up with the JD(U).
Commenting on the probe order, Singh recently said there was no question of making a compromise when it comes to the RSS. “It is highly objectionable to seek details about the RSS and its affiliates using the special branch. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar should explain as to how such an important decision was taken without taking his party into confidence,” Singh had said while speaking to the media.
How Singh has managed to get a cabinet berth for the second consecutive time amply indicates his closeness with the Modi-Shah duo. Singh, known as a firebrand party leader, has been infamous for making controversial statements. Last week he kicked up another controversy when he proposed a “two-children” norm for every community to stabilize population growth in the country and then favoured disfranchisement of those who have more than two children, a move which drew strong protests from the JD (U).
If that is not enough, Singh in an unusual move has also been retweeting the tweets of the party workers seeking break-up with the chief minister. This amply indicates how the cracks in the NDA have widened.
“I urge the top BJP leadership to break alliance with the JD(U) to avenge for insult inflicted on us by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar who ordered for inquiry against the RSS and all its affiliates,” Giriraj Rajeev Singh, one of minister’s fans, had tweeted on July 17. This tweet was later retweeted by Singh.
The Union minister then retweeted the tweet of party’s Nawada district president Shashi Bhushan Kumar Babloo who had condemned the government’s act. “Sangh is an ideology of patriotism, nationalism and public welfare. Its inquiry??? Unfortunate act,” Babloo had tweeted.
Singh had later said that by endorsing such tweets he was fulfilling his duty of backing his supporters and the party.
Re-kindling strained ties
So, are such reactions an indirect ploy to force Nitish to quit the NDA? Although JD (U) leaders are tight-lipped on the issue, the way RJD, the main opposition party headed by jailed leader Lalu Prasad Yadav, has extended its hand of friendship to an embattled Nitish, shows that the chief minister may not be alone if the BJP cold-shoulders him. “There is nothing like friends or foes in politics. All anti-BJP forces will have to come together,” said RJD vice-president Raghuvansh Prasad Singh.
Although the RJD had announced never to join hands with Nitish again after he walked out of the Grand Alliance midway in July 2017 to form his new government with the support of the BJP against which he had fought the last 2015 state elections, it seems to have retracted its stand now. JD (U) too seems to be warming up to the RJD after it failed to get the respect it deserved from the NDA. While none of Nitish’s earlier demands, such as granting special category status to Bihar and central university status to Patna University were considered by the Prime Minister, his party was also not given due representation in the Modi government.
The political relationship between the BJP and its alliance partrner JD (U) strained after the latter despite making a spectacular performance in the recent Lok Sabha polls, was offered only one ministerial berth in NDA’s cabinet. A visibly annoyed Nitish Kumar had rejected the offer, but there were no efforts from the BJP to pacify him.
Kumar had reacted soon by denying berth to the BJP leaders in his government during his recent cabinet expansion and then announcing his different stands on the issues like Triple Talaq, Uniform Civil Code and abrogation of Article 370. Now, both the BJP and the JD (U) look at parting ways despite being in power together.