After BJP, PDP 'divorce' in J&K, is saffron party’s alliance with JD(U) at risk in Bihar?
Patna, June 22: The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) seems to be fast losing its alliance partners in various states. It has been quite a while now, the Shiv Sena has been regularly protesting against the BJP, although both the parties run a coalition government in Maharashtra. Their relationship is "in shambles" and "hanging by a thread", to put it mildly.
Recently, the BJP parted with its former alliance partner, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in Jammu and Kashmir, ending the three-year-old colaition government suddenly. Now, the terror-ravaged state is under the Governor's rule.
Along with Jammu and Kashmir, the BJP's latest move has "directly hit" Bihar. After the BJP decided to pull the rug from under former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti's feet, the saffron party's Bihar partner, the Janata Dal (United) (JD(U)), fears that a similar fate might be in store for them.
Last year, Bihar chief minister and head of JD(U) Nitish Kumar decided to leave the 'mahagathbandhan' (grand alliance) to join hands with the BJP to run the state. The trouble in the BJP-JD(U) alliance has always been there as a section of the JD(U) from the beginning did not like the idea of establishing ties with the "communal BJP".
Reports of the BJP's high-handedness in the coalition government in Bihar is also something that is not acceptable to the JD(U) as well as Nitish. On several occasions, the Bihar government lead by Nitish has gone against the wishes of the BJP.
The major bone of contention seems to be the division of seats between the alliance partners for the upcoming 2019 Lok Sabha elections, scheduled between April/May.
The JD(U) is also a part of the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government headed by the BJP at the Centre.
Now, the JD(U) wants a comprehensive agreement among the NDA partners that would determine the seat share of each party in the Lok Sabha (2019) and Bihar Assembly (2020) polls, stated a report by The Indian Express.
However, it seems the BJP is refusing to make any commitment in this regard so early. In the 2014 General Elections, out of the 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar, the BJP had won 22 seats and the JD(U) 2. At that time, the BJP and the JD(U) were not together.
In the 2015 Assembly elections in the state, out of the 243 seats, the JD(U) has won 71 and the BJP 53. While the BJP has an upper hand as far as ticket distribution to its own candidates in the Lok Sabha polls are concerned because of its success in the 2014 elections, the JD(U) will get preference in the 2020 Assembly polls.
But JD(U) leaders are not ready to fight the Lok Sabha polls in just two seats. The party wants to contest polls from at least 20 Bihar seats in the 2019 elections. The JD(U) said that the current political scenario in the country is not in favour of the BJP and it might lose a good number of seats in Bihar if it does not allow the JD(U) to contest elections from half of the state's constituencies.
"One has to remember that 2019 is not 2014," BJP leaders told The Indian Express. The problem in the alliance government was pretty apparent when on Thursday Nitish and his JD(U) colleagues did not attend the International Yoga Day event in Patna. In fact, Nitish was invited for the event by BJP's deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi. Reports also say that Nitish is upset as the BJP is not granting the special financial package he has been asking for from the Centre.
As the equation among the various political parties is fast changing every day, it would be interesting to see if the alliance partners in Bihar's ruling regime stay together till the 2019 polls.