Patna: The JD(U), one of the BJP’s biggest allies, watched with glee as the Jharkhand assembly results trickled in Monday, showing the national party falling behind.
The ties between the two have never really been in the cordial territory, and the JD(U) now believes that the BJP is paying the price for going it alone in Jharkhand.
“The BJP should have accommodated its allies AJSU (All Jharkhand Students Union), the LJP (Lok Janshakti Party) and the JD(U) in its seat-sharing,” JDU chief spokesperson Sanjay Singh told ThePrint Monday.
“If we had put up a united fight, the NDA would have returned to power. Instead, the BJP preferred to go it alone ignoring its allies.”
In the run-up to the assembly elections, the BJP showed no inclination to form an alliance with either the JD(U) or the LJP. It did attempt to ally with the AJSU but that didn’t materialise.
“The arrogance of the BJP can be judged by the fact that it broke off ties with the AJSU, which does have some pockets of following,” said a JD(U) MLC.
As a result, all of the parties contested on their own, with the JD(U) fielding candidates in 69 of the 81 seats. It even backed BJP rebel and state minister Saryu Roy who looks set to defeat Chief Minister Raghubar Das from the Jamshedpur East seat constituency.
The BJP’s loss gives the JD(U) another major reason to be upbeat — party insiders believe it gives its president and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar more room to manoeuvre when it comes to seat-sharing for state assembly elections in 2020.
Nitish had been battling an emboldened state BJP unit even though Home Minister Amit Shah had stepped in and brokered a truce of sorts. The Jharkhand result may just end up providing the turnaround in equations that he had been looking for.
A CM under fire
For long, the BJP had been playing second fiddle to the JD(U) in Bihar. But that was until the BJP won 16 of the 17 seats in the Lok Sabha elections, with partymen publicly attributing it to the ‘Modi wave’.
One BJP MLC, Sanjay Paswan, even went on to declare that Nitish should move to Delhi and leave the CM post to the BJP.
There has also been a growing perception that Nitish was toeing the BJP line on issues since the Lok Sabha elections. During the dilution of Article 370 and the triple talaq bill, his JD(U) MPs staged a walk-out instead of voting against the bills.
The flash-point, however, came when JD(U) actually voted in favour of the Citizen Amendment Act. It has led to a revolt in the party with Prashant Kishor, Pawan Verma and several of the party’s Muslim leaders publicly airing their views against its stand.
Nitish had to do damage-control and has now demanded an all-party meet on both the CAA and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
JD(U) insiders now feel that with the BJP’s defeat in Jharkhand, the pressure on Nitish to toe the national party line will evaporate and he will be his own self again.
“The BJP has been behaving arrogantly despite the announcement made by Amit Shah that Nitish Kumar would be the leader of the NDA in Bihar’s 2020 assembly polls,” said a JD(U) minister pointing at Union Minister Giriraj Singh repeatedly humiliating Nitish through his public statements.
“The Jharkhand polls have given fresh impetus for Nitish Kumar to dictate terms in the electoral alliance and now the pressure will be on the BJP again,” the JD(U) minister added.