BY MANOJ CHAURASIA
PATNA: Slowly and steadily, the 17-month-old Grand Alliance government in Bihar appears to be heading for collapse if the continuing confrontation between the two partners—chief minister Nitish Kumar and RJD chief Lalu Prasad—over the issue deputy chief minister Tejaswhi Yadav is any indication.
While the chief minister wants Tejashwi to resign in keeping with his “personal image”, the RJD chief has rejected the demand, saying registration of an FIR is no ground for resignation.
Tejashwi who is younger son of Prasad has been named an accused in a land-for-hotel scandal along with his parents, and it’s this issue that has brought the two leaders face to face.
The problem with the partners is that both are now openly engaged in displaying its influence to each other. While RJD claims it has the largest number of legislators and also the support base, the JD-U claims its ally managed to win seats owing to the “clean image” of the chief minister.
It’s this brutal display of “influence” that has brought the alliance on the brink of collapse while the purpose of its formation was to check the BJP’s surge.
And, if the alliance breaks out, both the partners are bound to lose badly. While RJD will suffer immediately with the power going out of its hands at once, Nitish Kumar will repent in days to come as going with the BJP again will prove deadlier. The BJP will obviously seek the “pound of flesh” in lieu of allowing him to stay float.
A story doing the rounds in the political circles is that Kumar currently is not much in a bargaining position and could be handed out seats on the basis of 2014 LS polls when his JD-U could win only two seats out of Bihar’s total 40 after going it alone in the elections. Two LS seats are equivalent to around 10 assembly seats.
“The BJP will treat him nothing better than Jitan Ram Manjhi and spare a handful of seats since it has its own interests and its main objective is to gain its own majority in House with JD-U support now that it is fully aware about Nitish Kumar’s loyalty factor,” said an expert.
Perhaps, Kumar too understand his position but his whims are coming on the way of the existence of the grand alliance.
The problem for him is that he doesn’t have required number of legislators to form government on its own. His JD-U has only 71 MLAs in 243-mmeber Bihar assembly against the RJD which has 80 members.
Well, he can save his throne with the support of the BJP but that will ultimately prove politically suicidal to him, observers believe.
It was over the issue of a hardline Hindutva leader Narendra Modi that he had broken the 17-year-old alliance with the BJP in June 2013 and that issue still remains very much. Further, the BJP is yet to forget the humiliation of alliance breakup and there is no guarantee that how long this government will last.
Experts say going with the BJP will not only badly dent his image but also project him as a leader who ultimately surrendered before the BJP.
Also he will instantly lose the vast minority vote-bank that he currently enjoys for being an ally of the RJD. Yet another option is to resign and seek fresh polls but the JD-U doesn’t have a solid vote-base in any class.
There is also the maximum possibility of rebellion in the JD-U legislators who don’t want to go to polls again. This was amply reflected at the meeting of the JD-U held yesterday when a senior party minister Bijendra Prasad Yadav questioned the “rationale” of raking up the issue of corruption at this stage.
“Didn’t you know Lalu Prasad was charge-sheeted when you entered into an alliance?” Yadav shot back after a section of party leaders sought for resignation of Tejashwi and even suggested for breaking alliance with the RJD over the issue of corruption.
“Mahagathbandhan todanae ya sarkar girane ki baat karane se kuchha nahi hoga. JD-U ko aapni takat ko dekhana hoga (Talking about breaking the grand alliance or bringing down the government will not help. The JD-U must know its strength),” said Yadav who happens to be energy minister in the Nitish Kumar government.
(The author is State Bureau Chief of The Statesman based in Patna)