Three-day gathering in Jaipur will be virtually addressed by PM Narendra Modi.
New Delhi: The three-day meet of BJP functionaries scheduled for 19-21 May in Jaipur is being keenly watched by leaders of Bihar who are expecting “significant” changes as far as the party’s functioning in the state is concerned.
The state unit of the party is facing multiple internal clashes and problems, some of which are expected to be discussed and perhaps resolved in the three-day gathering which will also see the virtual address by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This meeting of office bearers, including state presidents and general secretaries will be attended by senior ministers too.
Ever since the November Assembly 2020 results and the July 2021 cabinet reshuffle at the Centre, Bihar BJP is witnessing clashes between top leaders and disruptions on multiple issues that has been attributed to attempts being made by a section of leaders to change the way the party has traditionally executed caste-based politics in the state. While the Assembly result in Patna and the cabinet reshuffle in Delhi took place at a gap of seven months and at a distance of 1000 km, they had one thing in common—it was an event that is described by the party leaders as one which marked the side-lining of the two “pillars’ of Bihar BJP, Sushil Kumar Modi and Ravi Shankar Prasad, both of whom are considered as the duo who “fought” the RJD on the streets during the 1990s and early 2000 which ultimately resulted in Nitish Kumar, with the help of BJP, coming to power for the first time in the state.
While Modi was forced to leave the chair of Deputy CM and finance minister, a post which he had attained mastery of due to the virtue of handling it for decades and move to Delhi as just another Rajya Sabha member, Prasad was, without being any reason assigned and without being given any prior intimation, removed as the law minister of the country even as he was working on vital legislations.
None of these two stalwarts were happy with what they were asked to do, which was akin to being shifted to “marg-darshak mandal”. A significant section of Bihar BJP believes that both were side-lined by the emerging “Yadav” lobby in Bihar BJP, while referring to union minister and Bihar in-charge Bhupender Yadav who has swiftly risen in the party and is now seen as among the most influential leaders of the party, not just as far as Bihar is concerned but also at the national level.
Bhupender Yadav is credited with putting in efforts to change the image that the BJP as a political party, only caters to the interests of the Forward caste in the state. He, for a long time now, has been working on a new narrative BJP was also a party that cares for the interest of the Yadav vote bank, whose loyalty to the Lalu Prasad Yadav led RJD is legendary.
Though Bhupender Yadav’s idea was both novel and noble, it was something that both Sushil Modi and Ravi Shankar Prasad knew would not attain any electoral gains for the party and rather it would boomerang. The recent results of the Bochahan assembly by- elections and the 24 seats in the Vidhan Parishad (MLC) elections, have proved that both Modi and Prasad were right in their assessment that ignoring the forward caste to focus on the Yadav vote bank will backfire.
Post the results, Modi issued a statement demanding review of the elections debacle, much against the wishes of state party president Sanjay Jaiswal and union minister and Ujiarpur Member of Parliament, Nityanand Rai, widely seen as the next CM in waiting.
According to the sources close to Bihar’s Modi, there was little communication between the two leaders who are on “Margdarshak Mandal” in Bihar and the state party president Jaiswal. Modi is widely regarded as the one who played an instrumental role in putting the entire Lalu family on trial by exposing their alleged land deals in exchange of ministerial posts, legislature seats through his over 110 press conferences that were supported with documents.
It is a common knowledge among the BJP circle in Bihar that his anti-Lalu aggressive posture on behalf of BJP now stands diluted by the new leaders of BJP, who behave softly towards Lalu family who faced ED, Income tax, CBI raids and had to appear in courts in New Delhi till the time Sushil Modi was active in the state. Now, BJP Bihar seems to have lost its teeth against the first family of Bihar.
Similarly, Prasad was considered a strong legal war general against Lalu family for his efforts in starting the CBI probe in the fodder scam and the subsequent conviction of Lalu and his team in the multi crores scam. Prasad is regarded as the one who succeeded in putting Lalu in political oblivion as the Election Commission barred him from contesting elections. With Modi and Prasad out of the power circle in BJP, Lalu and his family have again re-emerged stronger. The most recent example of this “sidelining” of Modi and Prasad was witnessed a few days ago when union minister Nityanand Rai, who is seen as a protégé of Bhupender Yadav, hosted all big and small leaders at his farm house.
The only ones who were missing from the gathering, which was described as a show of strength, were Modi, Prasad and Giriraj Singh. Rai’s name is being floated as a possible CM of the state, a possibility that will unravel in a matter of days as the BJP’s choice for the next President and Vice President of the country is announced.
The Bihar state leaders are expecting that the meet in Jaipur will address these issues which, as per them, have the potential to inflict long term damage to the party, the effect of which will also be seen in the 2024 general elections. “Modi and Prasad have nourished the BJP in the state, protected it and ensured that it reaches the point where it is now. However, both have become victims of a power game that is affecting the party’s organization in the state. Even though they have been side-lined, their personal capital which they built in the last 40-45 years, among the people of Bihar, is something that cannot be wished away so easily. There is a hope among a large section of party leaders that in the coming days, the internal issues that the party is facing are resolved. And for that one needs to involve both Modi and Prasad,” a senior party functionary requesting anonymity told The Sunday Guardian. Among the multiple speculations in the party’s office in Patna is the possibility of Dharmendra Pradhan, who was earlier the state in-charge and who enjoys a warm relationship with Modi, Prasad and Nitish Kumar, something which Bhupender Yadav does not, being asked to handle Bihar. The tenure of present state president Sanjay Jaiswal too is nearing its end and he might also be replaced.