Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is likely to deny another term of Rajya Sabha to Union Minister Ramchandra Prasad Singh, he used to be the number two player in Janata Dal United (JDU). Mr Singh, who is Nitish Kumar’s envoy to BJP alliance partners, may be paying a price for his closeness to BJP leaders – who were once considered his strengths.
Nitish Kumar, in a very unusual move, has armed himself with a resolution by JDU lawmakers to elect the party’s Rajya Sabha candidate before he makes an official announcement. That has never happened before in the party, as it has never used such consultation even though it sent four candidates to the upper house of parliament in the past.
Relations between Nitish Kumar and the BJP have been strained over the past few months. In the latest sign of a rift, Nitish Kumar hinted that he was not in line with the BJP in the CBI’s raid on his rival who turned into an ally, then Yadav and his family. Although the BJP claimed the new corruption case against Lalu Yadav was due to the efforts of Nitish Kumar’s party, the Chief Minister said he did not know about the raid and “only they (CBI)” could explain it.
Mr Kumar may not appreciate being credited for the raid, but the BJP is still shoveling it.
In what appears to be an attempt to embarrass Mr Kumar, his former deputy and senior BJP chief Sushil Modi has made almost daily statements praising JDU leaders like Lalan Singh and Shivanand Tiwari by highlighting the allegations of fraud.
However, it is said that JDU has voiced its opinion on the case, which is said to be a “land for jobs” scam, since 2008 when it was first raised by JDU National Presidents Rajiv Ranjan “Lalan” Singh and Shivanand Tiwari, and former party leader Sharad Yadav, which is now in Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) Then Yadav.
When asked about the raid on Sunday, even Lalan Singh pretended not to know by saying he only found out about the raid from the press. What is surprising is that none of the normally outspoken JDU leaders, from Delhi to Patna, commented publicly on the raid.
The BJP leader admitted privately that the raid was also intended as a message to Mr Kumar, to prevent him from thinking about warming up to RJD. His recent consonant with Tejashwi Yadav on the issue of caste-based census has worried many in the BJP.
BJP leaders said if Mr Kumar decided to resume ties with the RJD, they would openly accuse him of collaborating with Mr Yadav’s party in corruption.
But the Menteri Besar’s supporters do not seem to care too much. They questioned what they called the long rope given to the RJD patriarch by the central investigation agency. They said in several cases investigated by the Directorate of Enforcement, Yadav’s family was “fuzzy but the agency never bothered to file an appeal”.
Leaders from both the BJP and JDU described the Bihar alliance as a broken marriage where couples “share a house but live separately”.
Mr Kumar switched Lalu Yadav to BJP as his ally in 2017, in the middle of his term. His relationship with the BJP has been increasingly strained since the 2020 Bihar elections when his party won far fewer seats than the BJP and was reduced to a young partner for the first time.
Mr Kumar was disappointed with his long -standing demand for special status for Bihar and the PM’s insult in 2017 over the central university’s status to Patna University. He also felt openly rejected by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the 2020 elections, when Chirag Paswan fought solo, pledging allegiance to the PM but targeting Mr Kumar and the JDU. PM Modi during the first rally of the Bihar 2020 election campaign in Sasaram paid tribute to former Party president Lok Janshakti and the late Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan whom JD (U) felt was avoidable.
The Chief Minister reportedly felt his allies were more embarrassing to him than the opposition. The Speaker of Bihar (a BJP leader) repeatedly placed Mr Kumar in the dock during the budget session, leading to public outrage by him.
Mr Kumar also faced tremendous pressure from the Governor when investigations were initiated against several state university Vice -Chancellors. Bihar BJP president Sanjay Jaiswal not only opposed the claim of special status and caste -based census, but he also openly ridiculed the Bihar liquor ban, which was close to Mr Kumar’s heart.
The BJP has its complaints as well. They claimed no work was being done in the state and Mr Kumar “did not give space” to his allies.
Recently, the Industry Department headed by Shahnawaz Hussain of the BJP had organized an investor meeting in Delhi but Mr Kumar skipped it and preoccupied himself with inspecting the drainage system in Patna. He also decided to review Gandhi Setu’s construction but did not want to contact Nitin Nabin Sinha Road Construction Minister (BJP) or the department’s secretary.
In the record, Mr Kumar and BJP said everything was fine. But there is a huge trust deficit, both sides admit personally.