Bihars new BJP chief wants to win 40 LS seats; secure absolute majority

Bihar's new BJP chief wants to win 40 LS seats; secure absolute majority

Samrat Choudhary, the new chief of BJP’s Bihar unit, declared on Thursday that his main goals are to secure all 40 Lok Sabha seats in the state next year and to achieve an “absolute majority” for his party in the 2025 assembly elections.

Currently the Leader of the Opposition in the state legislative council, Choudhary, who was a minister in the Nitish Kumar government till the JD(U) leader remained with NDA, also did not deny that by hedging its bets on him, the BJP has sought to make a dent in the “Luv-Kush” base of the Bihar chief minister.

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“The BJP cares for all. But, of course, where else would Luv Kush go except the place where Lord Rama abides”, Choudhary replied, tongue in cheek, to questions from journalists about the “Kurmi-Koeri” combine, known by the name of the mythical twins in Bihar’s political lexicon.

The development is an indication of the challenges faced by the BJP in a state where it has become a force to reckon with but feels hamstrung by the “pro-upper caste label”, given Bihar’s history of being the hotbed of Mandal politics.

A Koeri by caste, 54-year-old Choudhary belongs to an influential political family of Bihar. His father Shakuni Choudhary has been an MLA several times and also served as the member of Khagaria Lok Sabha seat once besides being a founding member of the Samata Party, to which Nitish Kumar originally belonged.

Incidentally, Choudhary had joined BJP barely six years ago, previously having been associated with both Lalu Prasad’s RJD and Nitish Kumar’s JD(U).

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His two terms in the Bihar Assembly from Parbatta, in 2000 and 2010, were on RJD tickets and he was also a minister in the Rabri Devi government from 2000 till she was voted out of power.

His political career began in 1999 with a controversial ministerial stint, when he was not a member of either house of the state legislature, and which came to an abrupt end with the then governor Suraj Bhan ordering his dismissal on the ground of his being “under-age”.

In 2014, after Nitish Kumar stepped down as the chief minister taking moral responsibility for the JD(U)s debacle in Lok Sabha polls, Choudhary quit the RJD and joined the Jitan Ram Manjhi ministry.

Chaudhary was then part of a faction comprising 13 disgruntled RJD MLAs, many of whom later claimed that they did not intend to quit the party and their signatures were “fraudulently” obtained on a blank piece of paper to muster the numbers required for a split.

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By 2017, he grew disillusioned with the JD(U) and joined the BJP, which ended up realigning with Nitish Kumar shortly afterwards.

Chaudhary succeeds Sanjay Jaiswal, who, incidentally, had similarly started off his career with the RJD.

Rabri Devi, who like Chaudhary is a member of the legislative council, offered her good wishes to her former cabinet colleague, but not without adding that for the BJP baniya se man bhar gaya hai to Mahto ko bana diya (having been done with a Vaishya, the BJP is now betting on an OBC).

(With agency inputs)

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