The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is reportedly trying to assert its position and augment its place in the Bihar power ring with a bit of social mechanics. The BJP kept its word of making Nitish Kumar the Chief Minister even though his JD(U) managed just 43 seats, compared to the 74 which the BJP won in the 243-seat house.
On his part, after the results were declared, a deft Nitish Kumar was in no haste to become the Chief Minister. In spite of repeated statements by BJP leaders, including by Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi, Nithish Kumar knew that he wanted to be at the helm on his own terms. Political observers said Nitish Kumar was waiting to ensure that he would not be hemmed in by the larger ally in future. He was preemptively thwarting any future power-assertion by the BJP.
But the BJP’s political office seems to be on an overdrive to ensure its fair share power dividend. The party is likely to install two Deputy Chief Ministers and keep the Speaker’s post as Nitish Kumar will take oath as the chief minister of Bihar for the fourth term on Monday (November 16).
According to reports, the fourth-term Katihar MLA Tarkishore Prasad and Bettiah legislator Renu Devi could be the Deputy Chief Ministers.
On Sunday, Prasad was named the BJP legislature party leader and Devi was made party’s deputy legislature party leader.
Sushil Kumar Modi proposed the name of Prasad as the party’s legislature party leader which was seconded by all the newly elected MLAs.
With this, it is clear that the BJP intends to expand its base among the backward sections of society. Prasad is from the Kalwar caste, which is a part of the Vaishya community, a backward class category. Devi is from the Noniya caste, which is an extremely backward class (EBC) community. She has been elected four times from Bettiah to the Bihar Legislative Assembly and was a minister in Bihar in the second NDA governmnet in 2010 headed by Nitish.
Prasad won from Katihar assembly segment in the current assembly elections for the fourth straight term. The 52-year-old BJP leader has risen from the ranks of Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), an affiliate of the RSS. Prasad, who has been winning Katihar constituency since October 2005, is an Intermediate (10+2) science pass out from D S College, Katihar in 1974 and has shown agriculture as his profession in the affidavit submitted in the recently held elections.
Another key factor is the role of LJP. Nitish Kumar had earlier stated that the fate of the party could be decided by the NDA, indicating that he was not prepared to wade in. That the BJP is not outrightly rejecting LJP, a known ‘voter-cutter’ which had fielded candidates against the JD(U), ha not gone down well with the JD(U) leadership.
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A report in the LiveMint quoted a senior BJP leader as saying though: “Every political party has the duty to reach out to the people and BJP is doing exactly what any political party would want to do. There has been a concern by opposition that BJP is only limited to upper caste voters but this notion was changed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Now, we are going ahead in the direction and these two appointments are an acknowledgement of the changing voter and social base of the party.”
On his part, the outgoing Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi took to Twitter to say he would discharge the responsibility given to him by the party, and added that no one can take away the post of the party worker.
“The BJP and the Sangh Parivar gave me so much in the political life of 40 years. I will discharge the responsibility that will be given to me. No one can take away the post of the party worker,” Modi wrote on Twitter.
भाजपा एवं संघ परिवार ने मुझे ४० वर्षों के राजनीतिक जीवन में इतना दिया की शायद किसी दूसरे को नहीं मिला होगा।आगे भी जो ज़िम्मेवारी मिलेगी उसका निर्वहन करूँगा।कार्यकर्ता का पद तो कोई छीन नहीं सकता।
— Sushil Kumar Modi (@SushilModi) November 15, 2020
(With inputs from PTI)