Sources say Amit Shah convinced Nitish Kumar to seek votes from Shiv Sena and BJD, without which they would not have had the numbers to win.
New Delhi: The BJP-led NDA has one man to thank for winning it the Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman’s post for the first time — its ally and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar.
Sources in the BJP said it was the Janata Dal (United) chief who ensured victory for party MP Harivansh Narayan Singh by reaching out to the Shiv Sena and the Biju Janata Dal (BJD), both of whom had abstained from the no-confidence vote against the Narendra Modi government in the Lok Sabha last month.
Initially, neither the Sena (with three Rajya Sabha MPs) nor the BJD (nine members) had made their stands clear. That’s when BJP chief Amit Shah reportedly convinced Nitish to seek their votes, without which the NDA would not have had the numbers to win.
Two things worked for the BJP and its allies — choosing a candidate from the JD(U), a party that has friends across the political divide, and floor management.
Shah himself counted each and every vote their candidate was assured of before the election. “He gave the exact number of 125 before the election, and he was bang on,” said the source.
“He (Shah) asked Nitish Kumar to seek votes in his candidate’s favour, even as the BJP was doing its bit. It was very crucial for the BJP to not have a member of the opposition win such a crucial post.”
Shiv Sena leaders claimed it was Shah who had called their leader Uddhav Thackeray, but BJP sources insisted it was Nitish who sealed the deal.
“Shah had reportedly called Thackeray during the no-confidence motion as well. All that could be achieved was making them stage a walkout,” said the source.
There are many who had questioned what Shah would bring to the table as Rajya Sabha MP, but BJP sources point to this victory, in a House where it does not have the numbers, as the answer.
BJP’s clear message
Getting votes from the Telangana Rashtra Samithi in its kitty was another feather in BJP’s cap. Given TRS’ opposition to B.K. Hariprasad, the Congress candidate for the Deputy Chairmanship, the BJP succeeded in manipulating the game with a simple message — if you don’t want to vote for the BJP, vote for the non-Congress NDA candidate.
The signal the BJP has sent to the Congress is crystal clear — up your game if you want to remain relevant.