New Delhi: The Bihar unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is going through a phase of transition after the removal of old guards from the state leadership, with no clear indication about which leader would lead the party in the next 10 years.
It is in contrast with other state units of the party where the leadership of the BJP is more or less decided. The appointment of two Deputy Chief Ministers from the Other Backward Castes (OBCs) and Extremely Backward Castes (EBCs) respectively after the Bihar Assembly elections had given an indication that the leadership of Bihar would remain in the hands of these communities.
The BJP has emerged as the second largest party in the Assembly elections which was held in October-November 2020, with 74 seats, and its strike rate was the best with 70% success ratio as it fought on only 110 seats. But despite that success, the question of leadership still looms large in the state unit after the removal of the old guards like Sushil Kumar Modi and Nand Kishore Yadav.
Many political observers believe that to emerge as the pre-eminent force in the politically charged state, the saffron party needs a leader who can bring the party out from the shadow of Nitish kumar.
Talking to The Sunday Guardian, noted commentator and political analyst Santosh Singh said, “The BJP is playing a wait and watch game in Bihar. The success in the Assembly polls was big for the saffron party, but both the Deputy CMs are found to be ineffective under the shadow of Nitish Kumar. What the party is doing in the state is strengthening its organization at the district and booth level, so that after 2025, it will be the prime force in the state. If you observe closely, there are growing leaders from different communities like Giriraj Singh from Bhumihars, Sanjay Jaiswal and Tar Kishore Prasad from the non-Yadav OBCs, Nityanand Rai from the Yadavs and Mangal Pandey from the Brahmin community. The removal of old guards who were dominating the party in Bihar since 1995 like Sushil Modi, Nand Kishore Yadav and Prem Kumar signaled the first step towards changing the party in the state; now the focus is to built the base from the ground and wait for the time to come post-Nitish Kumar.”
Bihar is a crucial state in the electoral landscape of India as it sends 40 Members of Parliament in the Lok Sabha and in 2019, the National Democratic Alliance got 39 seats out of 40 with BJP winning 17 and JDU getting 16 seats.
In the 2020 Bihar Assembly polls, the BJP won 74 seats, while the JDU won 43 largely due to the Chirag Paswan factor.
Other political parties are looking at the developments within the saffron party closely as the rise of the BJP in the state happened in the last 15 years. One senior JDU who wished to remain unnamed said, “The BJP is following the Assam model in the state, meaning wait and watch. The removal of Sushil Modi meant leadership change in the state, but they know well that till Nitish Kumar is at the helm, vacancy is nowhere in Bihar, but things might change after 2025.”
The BJP leaders in the state BJP are tight-lipped on the issue with party MLA and senior leader Motilal Prasad saying, “The BJP is the party of workers, anyone can become leader here. We believe in collective leadership and feel that every worker needs to strengthen the organization and our ideology. The question of leadership is decided by our parliamentary board.”