By Arun Srivastava
One liner puzzling remark from Nitish Kumar, after being sworn in chief minister, “the person who came to power in 2014 will not come back in 2024” while has brought about a major shift overnight in the political culture and dynamics of the country, his divorcing the alliance in Bihar has put the Modi government in a vulnerable situation about the functioning of the Rajya Sabha.
In all likelihood, if the sources are to be relied, the JD(U) leadership will ask Haribans Narayan Singh, the vice chairman of the Rajya Sabha, who represents JD(U) in Rajya Sabha, to part company with the NDA. With JD(U) severing its alliance with the BJP and Nitish throwing an open challenge to Narendra Modi, there is no moral relevance of Singh continuing to be the Vice Chairman.
So far the party leadership has not issued any directive to Singh, the sources maintain Nitish would take a final call after August 24, the day he proves his majority on the floor of the house. On his part Singh has not indicated whether he will side with Modi and continue to be the Rajya Sabha deputy chairman or abide by directive of the leadership in the wake of latest development.
The mood inside the party is quite umbrage. The insult and humiliation that has been inflicted on Nitish Kumar by the BJP leadership, from top level to lower rank, after his break with the BJP, has severely infuriated the JD(U) leaders. The orchestrated move of the BJP leadership to project Nitish worthless and greedy leader has turned him so bitter that he is not in the mood to relent and is contemplating to launch a massive retaliatory exercise against Modi. He has turned unsparing. He dropped the indication by asserting that his mission is to unite opposition and remove Modi and his party from power. Nitish accepting the BJP challenge also made it clear the opposition which has the support of the 80 per cent of the electorate would not accept the humiliation lying low.
Obviously with Nitish hardening his stand and determined to launch his remove Modi crusade from 2023, the party insiders maintain that he would not allow Haribans going along with Modi. The sources also confide that Nitish was not happy with some of Haribans’s decision which he took while presiding the proceedings of the Rajya Sabha. Though they did not elaborate, the decision on farmers’ bill and the manner in which it was adopted in the house was not liked by Nitish.
The sources maintain that in the past on many occasions Modi used the JD(U) and Haribans to bail out the government, but now in the prevailing situation Nitish does not intend to allow his member to be sacrificed for protecting Modi’s interest and manoeuvrings This move of the JD(U) will marginally affect the NDA’s strength in the Rajya Sabha. BJP, precisely the NDA, does not enjoy majority in Rajya Sabha. It is still far less of the halfway mark in the 237-member Rajya Sabha. With 91 members, the BJP is the single largest party in the Upper House and often depends on NDA allies and two friendly parties —Biju Janata Dal and YSR Congress Party for passage of key bills.
Nitish and other senior JD(U) leaders are quite angry with the remarks of BJP leader and former Bihar deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi that the fallout between his party and Nitish Kumar could be linked to the Bihar chief minister’s desire to become the country’s vice president. They describe it as a part of the BJP’s insinuation campaign against Nitish. The insiders say that as Kumar parted ways with the BJP alleging that it was trying to break the JD(U), it cannot expected that he would allow Harivansto to continue to have his relation with Modi.
The JD(U) currently has five members in the Rajya Sabha and 16 in the Lok Sabha. The BJP will lose the support of these members. The number of the NDA members would decline further with JD(U) withdrawing from the NDA, Now in the existing situation, these MPs of JD(U) will add to the strength of Congress. The new political equation emerging out of the latest crisis, will also prove to be major stumbling block in the path of the BJP. In the past the NDA had managed to shore up numbers for the bills like triple talaq, which the JD(U) was opposed to. but in the future the task will prove to be arduous for BJP. The Congress-led Opposition bloc in the Rajya Sabha, which has been struggling to put up a joint front in the House, will now be geared to throw challenges to Modi government with JD(U) on its side.
Nevertheless the BJP which has been hurling tirades and launching an insinuation game against Nitish so far has not taken the Haribans issue in proper stride. The party leaders nurse the view that since he was elected by chairman with the support of the BJP, he is under moral obligation to follow the political line of Modi and severe his relations with Nitish. In contrast the JD(U) leaders hold that he was not elected merely by the BJP members, In fact several other political parties, BJD and Shiv Sena, which are not allies of the BJP had voted for him.
A BJP leader however asserted that in case Nitish asks Haribans to resign, then in that backdrop the BJP will install any of his members in his place. But the task does not appear to be so smooth. The situation has undergone complete transformation. Most of the old allies have deserted NDA. The BJP cannot claim to have a smooth sailing. On the other hands the number of anti BJP MPs would further consolidate.
In fact, electing a new vice chairman to replace Haribans would be real challenge before the BJP duo. Modi and Shah. This would be the first trial of strength between the BJP and opposition. This time ouster of the NDA from power in Bihar will invariably have major impact on the opposition rank and file. Indications have already started pouring in. Already the NCP chief Sharad Pawar have complemented Nitish for his move. “No matter how much BJP leaders criticise Nitish Kumar, but he has taken a wise step. He took the decision anticipating the crisis the BJP was planning to bring on. I think he took a wise decision for his state and party,” Pawar said. He accused the BJP of finishing off its regional allies gradually.(IPA Service)