The Bihar unit of  the BJP is unhappy with partner Janata Dal United (JDU), barely five months after the two parties rejoined hands in the state, as Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is trying to limit the national party to the role of a “younger brother”, sources told The Sunday Guardian.

The BJP cadre and state leaders feel that power has been concentrated in Nitish Kumar, who, according to them, is using it to strengthen his JDU at the BJP’s expense.

“When Nitish was in power along with Lalu and his sons, it were they who were controlling him. He was not able to strengthen his party in the state. Now the same thing is happening with us. Everything related to administration, policies, transfers, new projects, their locations etc is being decided by the CM and his close group of advisors. We are not being taken into confidence and our suggestions and inputs are being either ignored or denied. Sushil Modi, our senior most leader, is not able to establish his ‘dominance’ in the present set up. If we have to become stronger in Bihar, we need to assert ourselves as an equal partner,” a senior state BJP party functionary said. Sushil Modi is also Bihar’s Finance Minister.

Another party functionary, recalling the period of 2005-2010, when Nitish and BJP first came together to form government in the state, said that things were no longer the same. “At the time, we had 33 seats fewer than Nitish’s JDU, but the alliance ran smoothly as we were treated as equal. This is not happening now. Unless and until a political leader is able to  help his supporters when he comes to power, he will not be able to maintain his hold in his constituency. Our workers, mid-level functionaries, despite their party being in power, are not getting any ‘benefits’. This will lead to resentment which will eventually come out in the open. Postings of SPs, district magistrates and secretaries are being done by the CM without taking into consideration our suggestions. No appointment has been done in corporations and boards despite the Patna High Court pulling up the state government. It is very clear that CM Nitish is not working as the coalition dharma demands,” said the BJP leader, who returned from campaigning in Gujarat, said.

The leader narrated an incident when Sushil Modi had recommended increasing the monthly pension of journalists from Rs 5,000 per month to Rs 10,000 under a scheme that was mooted by the state government. However, this was not accepted by Nitish Kumar, who returned the file.

Similarly, local BJP leaders and ministers were not “invited” to be a part of the state-wide “Sameeksha yatra” that Nitish Kumar recently embarked on. To be completed in several phases, the yatra aims to collect feedback from the common man on the government’s performance. The first leg of the month-long tour programme, named “Vikas Karyon Ki Samiksha Yatra” would be the ninth such statewide “yatra” done by Nitish Kumar since 2005 when he started “Nyaya Yatra” (tour to seek justice) across the state to seek majority in the Bihar Assembly after the February 2005 elections, which saw a hung Assembly.

“This yatra is the CM’s way of reaching out to the people, politically, with a view on the future. Come 2019 general elections, a lot of ‘disputes’ will arise as many of the 31 of the NDA MPs (BJP, LJP, RSLP) will be asked to vacate their seats since Kumar will demand at least 20 out of the 40 seats, if not more, for the JDU. Nitish Kumar is looking at the future and using this period to strengthen himself. We should not ignore our long-term goals,” the leader said.  Last week, the BJP held a three-day training camp at Sasaram to train its state-level leaders in reaching out to the cadres at booth levels.

Union Law Minister Ravishankar Prasad, who took part in the camp, asked the leaders to spread information about the achievements of the Narendra Modi government to villages.

The camp coincided with the review meeting of CM Nitish Kumar in the districts, where BJP ministers were not involved. Similarly, Sushil Modi on Wednesday held the Udyami (entrepreneurs) panchayat where state Industries Minister Jai Kumar Singh, who is from the JDU, was not present.

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