BJP chief J P Nadda’s remark that his party may go to the 2024 Lok Sabha elections on its own is quite encumbered and notably coincides with the opposition initiative to field Nitish Kumar as INDIA candidate from any of the constituencies in eastern Uttar Pradesh.
One thing is obvious: Nadda must not have come out with this assertion without the tacit approval of his masters, Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. Nadda’s remark also raises the question of the relevance of the smaller parties in the election. Most of the smaller parties have at least 1 per cent of the total population. How could Modi or Shah dare to ignore this composite vote?
What has surprised experts and political leaders more is his remark that the “regional parties promoting family and corruption are destined to be wiped out”. No doubt he targets RJD and JD(U); but the smaller parties, the NDA allies, like Rashtriya Lok Janshakti Party, Lok Janshakti Party (Chirag Paswan), Rashtriya Lok Janata Dal and Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular), also fall within the ambit of his accusation. Leaders like Chirag Paswan, Jitan Ram Manjhi and Pashupati Paras are yet to decode his observation, they are trying to make out what made Nadda to insinuate and malign them.
This remark coming from Nadda has heated up the Bihar politics with the smaller parties criticizing his statement, as it is according to them is like stabbing its allies in the back while the saffron leadership wants their support to win elections. As per sources, a couple of the leaders of these smaller parties yesterday met Nitish Kumar and opened out their hearts to him.
It is a known fact that Nadda usually speaks the minds of his leaders Modi and Shah. On July 31 last year, he had made a statement emphasising that smaller parties would cease to exit. This was one of the prime reasons for split of the NDA, Nitish parting ways resulting in fall of the ruling NDA government.
Nevertheless, some senior BJP leaders confide that this remark from Nadda is not for the smaller parties from Bihar. Instead, it is a warning to the smaller parties which have been in NDA but also working on the political line to support Nitish in the case he opts to contest from Uttar Pradesh. The BJP game has been decrypted by the JD(U). Its spokesperson Neeraj Kumar on Friday asked the BJP’s allies to clear their stand over Nadda’s remark saying; “The BJP is repeatedly declaring to end your existence. Are you doing politics to end your existence or establish it?”
The JD(U) leaders, however, interpret this Nadda remark as a boon in disguise. They hold that this will conjure the smaller parties to fight for preserving their independent identity and eventually would make them join hands with INDIA. If the existing political exercises are any indication, it is certain that Nitish Kumar would contest the 2024 Lok Sabha polls from the politically significant state of Uttar Pradesh. Apparently, this move has sparked debates and curiosity among political analysts and in the political circles, sources maintain that it has got wider implication.
Though the BJP leaders and some opponents of Nitish describe it as fulfilling his political aspiration, as he had not contested any election ever since he became chief minister in 2005, the INDIA sources however describe it as a major political step to eclipse BJP in UP. The move would have far-reaching consequences for both Bihar and Uttar Pradesh’s political landscape.
It is a known fact that smaller parties of UP represent the aspirations of various caste groups. Every caste has its own political outfit. They are scattered. While some are with the BJP, some are flexing their muscles on their own. The worst case had been with the Jatav supporters of the BSP led by Mayawati. They have a support base of nearly 12 per cent. It is not yet clear how many of these smaller caste parties would rally behind Nitish. However, one thing, according to the election watchers of the state, is certain that he would be the possible fulcrum to bring together these scattered parties. Already a number of leaders of the smaller parties have met Nitish and extended him the invitation to contest from Uttar Pradesh.
Ironically, no national leader is insight who could work as a pivot and bind these smaller parties together, except of course Nitish. Yet another factor which would help INDIA electorally is, Nitish succeeding in cementing the differences amongst various castes, and especially with the Yadavs. In Bihar, Nitish is not only the partner of RJD, but he heads the Mahagathbandhan. This would have a very positive impact on the Yadavs and other caste groups. Known for his political acumen and pragmatic governance, Nitish has been at the helm of Bihar’s politics for several years. His recent move to bring all the opposition parties on a single platform to challenge the hegemony of BJP, has further boosted his political stature.
A win in Uttar Pradesh has historically been the key to forming a government at the centre. Obviously, Nitish’s decision to contest from UP is perceived to be his masterstroke to corner Modi. In fact, Nitish has been trying to test the waters. In Bihar, Shrawan Kumar, the rural development minister has been known as the conscience keeper of Nitish. Only last week he visited Uttar Pradesh and met several OBC, EBC and Dalit leaders. On his return, he said that people from many Lok Sabha constituencies in Uttar Pradesh want Nitish to contest from their area. Constituencies like Phulpur, Pratapgarh and Ambedkar Nagar have a large population of Kurmi/Patel community, to which Nitish Kumar belongs.
Shrawan, who was appointed the JD(U) in charge for UP replacing senior leader K C Tyagi, also claimed that the members of Kurmi/Patel community strongly believed that once (Sardar Vallabhbhai) Patel had lost the opportunity of becoming the Prime Minister, but the second Patel (read Nitish) Nitish Kumar must step in the office of highest post.
The leaders from UP say that Nitish deciding to contest from any seat in UP would have a positive impact on all the 80 Lok Sabha seats in that state. Meanwhile some senior OBC and EBC leaders would be visiting Patna soon to persuade Nitish to contest the next general election either from UP. While this move of Nitish has unnerved the BJP, the RJD supremo has further caused tremors in the BJP circle saying that those working to abolish regional parties would themselves get buried very soon. He said; “The BJP won’t succeed in its plan as it is difficult to finish the regional parties. Those nursing ambition to kill smaller parties will themselves get buried in coming days.”
Meanwhile academics and intellectuals owing allegiance to BJP have started a vilification campaign against Nitish. A section of the media have joined the BJP bandwagon. It is said that invincible Modi-Shah duo, would finish Nitish. They claim that Nitish’s trust and credibility among influential caste groups in the state has declined. Surprisingly these media genius view this as Nitish’s move to project him as the future prime minister. (IPA Service)