By Manoj Kumar
Patna: What made Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar break his party JD(U)’s 17-year-old alliance with the BJP? Now that the BJP leaders are free to express themselves, the reasons, some substantiated and some not so, are flowing thick and fast. Nitish claimed the BJP had deviated from the basic principles on which the NDA alliance was formed. Nah! say some BJP leaders. He wanted to be declared the NDA’s prime minister candidate for the 2014 elections. Since the chance of it dimmed after Narendra Modi asserted his primacy in the BJP, he broke off.
The leaders say he had been putting pressure on the BJP’s leadership to declare him for the top job for quite sometime. "Nitish wanted the BJP to project him as the prime ministerial candidate, and when his wishes were not fulfilled, he made up his mind to call off the alliance with the BJP," BJP’s national spokesman Shahanwaz Hussain told the media in Bihar post NDA split. "He was hopeful of capitalisng on getting the benefit of the prevailing wrangling in the NDA but when he found that the stature of Narendra Modi was growing fast, he began looking for ways to snap the alliance with the BJP," he added.
Apparently, as other party leaders say, Nitish got excited when stories of internal bickering in the BJP started making it to the media. Even as BJP chief Rajnath Singh threw his weight behind Narendra Modi, senior party leader LK Advani, who himself is said to be nursing the prime ministerial ambitions, heaped praises on Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan. The latter begged off the race, saying he comes at number three in the race. Amid all this, there were talks of Sushma Swaraj’s potential challenge for the top job. All these developments led Nitish’s ambition galloping. For some time, he believed the BJP was in no position to throw up a leader. While he kept claiming that he was not in the race for the top job, he set out conditions for the NDA’s prime minister candidate which made him the only choice for the job.
However, he was thoroughly disappointed when Modi muscled his way to the top rung of the BJP and it was fairly clear that he would be the BJP’s prime contender for the top job. Not even LK Advani looked in a position to stop him. It was then he decided to pull the plug on the alliance.
The gloves are off, so are the masks
What had been under wraps all these years has suddenly begun tumbling out of the cupboard in the aftermath of BJP-JD(U) split. The change in the approach in both erstwhile NDA partners is visible for all. Nitish Kumar, who not very long ago was using uncharitable remarks against the Congress saying Jab-jab Congress aati hai, mehangai lati hai (inflation comes automatically with the formation of Congress government at the Centre) is suddenly finding much comfort in the company of the party which helped him win the confidence vote earlier this month after he broke away with the BJP. In the past two days, he has been seen in the company of two Union ministers in the UPA government, forming a mutual admiration society.
First, it was Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who termed Nitish "secular". Then it was Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde’s turn to heap similar praise on him.. Now, it is Union Minority Affairs Minister K Rehman Khan doing the same.
"Nitish Kumar is secular and a nice man. He has become pure after coming out of the dirty water pond of the BJP," remarked Khan. And, when the newsmen asked how could he called ‘secular’ when he had been in the company of the BJP for close to two decades, then the minister retorted, "Just as a fish becomes clean after coming out of pond water, in the same way Nitish Kumar has become clean after coming out of his alliance with the BJP."
Grapevine has it is that Nitish is eager to enter into an electoral alliance with the Congress to keep both of his rivals, Lalu Prasad and Ramvilas Paswan, at bay. Paswan has already announced that he would not join any alliance of which Nitish is a part. Lalu, too, has made a similar statement. A triangular contest involving the RJD-LJP, Congress-JD(U) and BJP seems to be on cards in Bihar.
The "hidden agenda" of the BJP too has come out in the open post the split. The party has now openly declared that there is no "hiccup" in declaring Narendra Modi as NDA’s PM candidate, and has added that the issues of construction of Ram temple at Ayodhya, abrogation of Article 370 and implementation of the Uniformed Civil Code are well in the agenda of the BJP.
The media, of late, has discovered several diseases, of the political kind, in the country. After ‘NaMonitis’ and ‘NaMonia’, which were coined to describe the growing fear of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi among his rivals, the BJP has now discovered a new political disease called ‘secularitis’. The disease has been discovered by none other than party chief Rajnath Singh.
According to Singh, who was on a visit to the state last week, this epidemic is spreading out fast in the country before the Lok Sabha elections. He advised the masses to bravely fight this ‘disease’. He blamed the Congress for spreading the virus of ‘secularitis’.
"Every time we near elections, by a strange coincidence, this disease takes epidemic proportions," Singh told the media, taking a dig at the Congress’ definition of secularism.