‘Many Bihar BJP leaders were never in support of BJP going into an alliance with JDU’.
The Janata Dal United (JDU), which is a part of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in Bihar, will not leave the alliance on its own unless it is forced to do so by the Bharatiya Janata Party, senior party leaders told The Sunday Guardian amid reports that Nitish Kumar was exploring possibilities of a tie-up with the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD).
Many party leaders who spoke to this reporter off the record said that Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who heads the JDU, was not planning to end his partnership with the BJP, as was being speculated in the media, but he would be forced to do so if coalition dharma was not respected by the BJP.
“We have issues like the lack of representation in the Union Council of Ministers, and also the fact that we are not taken aboard on key issues. Then there is the communalism plank that some BJP leaders are trying to use in the state. But we believe that these are issues that can be taken care of. However, one key issue that needs to be resolved as soon as possible is the number of Lok Sabha seats that we are going to fight—it cannot be decided at a later stage as LJP’s Ram Vilas Paswan recently suggested. We cannot accept less than 12-15 seats and if the BJP is not able to promise these many seats, then the alliance will naturally end. If the BJP continues to dilly-dally on it, then the alliance will end. The BJP needs to understand that we need time to prepare for elections, to sound off candidates and workers and if the BJP doesn’t move quickly (on the seat-sharing issue), then obviously it will be a concern for us and we might see this dilly-dallying as a motivated step,” a senior JDU source said.
According to him, there is very strong speculation among senior JDU leaders that the BJP, which is the largest party in the state with 22 MPs, was thinking of giving JDU “weak” Lok Sabha seats. “Assuming this speculation turns out to be correct, then how does the BJP expect us to stay in the coalition?” he asked.
He denied that the JDU leadership ever had a serious formal discussion with RJD leaders over rejoining the Grand Alliance.
“I can tell you that either we will stay in NDA or we will fight the elections alone. There is no chance of joining the Grand Alliance,” the leader said.
The JDU leaders stated that another major issue for them was that a very strong section of Bihar BJP and the Ram Vilas Paswan-led LJP wanted the alliance to end.
“It is no secret that a large number of Bihar BJP leaders were never and still are not in support of BJP going into an alliance with the JDU. They have their valid reasons, as it is due to the alliance that their electoral prospects get diminished. These anti-alliance leaders, too, are exerting their pressure on the BJP central leadership to call off the alliance. Paswan, too, wants the BJP to drop the JDU from the alliance as then he will become more ‘relevant’ and important in the alliance. However, ultimately it is the decision of the BJP. We are a regional party, but even during our worst days, we have managed to get more than 15% votes and we are very much confident that if it comes to it, we can comfortably go alone minus BJP, minus RJD,” another leader close to Nitish Kumar said.