‘Maharashtra’s side effect could be visible in Bihar soon’: Raghuvansh Prasad Singh.

Source – hindustantimes.com

After a brief lull, speculations of ruling JD(U) realigning with the opposition’s RJD led alliance came into focus once again on Saturday when senior RJD leader Raghuvansh Prasad Singh asserted that both RJD-JD(U) were in talks for a new alliance. He claimed the ‘side effect’ of the recent Maharashtra political crisis would be visible in Bihar politics soon.

“There could be a political upheaval in Bihar soon. Internal talks are going on between RJD and JD (U) for a reunion and there are no objections from both sides,” Singh said.

“The side effect of Maharashtra’s politics where the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress came together will be visible in Bihar also,” he said, hinting that the RJD-JD (U) and Congress could come together once again. JD (U) is a senior partner in the BJP-led NDA in Bihar.

But Singh’s statement of RJD-JD(U) realignment, an experiment that both parties did in 2015, did not find traction within his own party with leader of the opposition Tejaswi Prasad Yadav, summarily, rejecting Singh’s assertion.

“There is no question of RJD having any truck with the JD (U) once again. It is not possible anymore,” Tejaswi said, in a press conference organized to show solidarity of the grand alliance partners towards RLSP chief Upendra Kushwaha who has been on a fast onto death over education issues. Kushwaha later withdrew his fast.

JD (U) senior leader and minister Sanjay Jha also trashed Singh’s prophecy of a RJD-JD (U) alliance in the run up to the 2020 assembly polls, saying the JD (U) being a strong partner in the NDA would contest assembly polls with the BJP and LJP. “Like in 2010 assembly polls, the NDA in Bihar will win 206 seats,” he said.

However, Raghuvansh’s statement today just days after Jagdanand Singh took over as RJD state president has given credence to the ongoing speculations that all is not well within the NDA and chances of a political realignment in the state in the run up to the assembly was possible.

It is a different matter that Singh was pulled up by his own party a few months back for advocating that JD (U) and RJD should come together to strengthen the secular front in Bihar in a bid to oust the BJP from power. Singh had also said that RJD should align with JD(U) as it may prove beneficial for the RJD to salvage lost ground after its dismal performance in 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

“Raghuvansh Singh is a senior leader but what he is talking about has nothing to do with the JD (U). The NDA is intact. But what will happen in politics is never predictable,” said Ram Lakhan, a senior JD (U) leader and former minister.

Maharashtra political drama may impact BJP-JDU alliance in Bihar.

Source – indiatoday.in

he breaking of pre-poll alliance between the BJP and the Shiv Sena after the declaration of the 2019 Maharashtra Assembly election results on October 24 has led to some serious mulling over the fate of the BJP and its alliance partners in others states. The concern looks more serious in Bihar where the BJP-JDU combine is in power at present than other states.

Bihar goes to polls in just about 10 months and the breaking up of 30-year-old BJP-Shiv Sena alliance has become the biggest talking point in the state with many speculating what will happen to the BJP-JDU alliance. Barring four years between 2013 and 2017, the JDU and the BJP are alliance partners for 22 years.

JDU president and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had severed ties with the BJP after it became clear that then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi would be elevated as the prime ministerial candidate of the NDA for 2014 Lok Sabha election.

Nitish Kumar’s JDU has always donned the cap of the big brother in Bihar since he came to power in 2005 with BJP choosing to remain second fiddle. Though the BJP and the JDU contested equal number of seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections (17-17), it should not be perceived that both parties were at par.

The BJP with 22 MPs in 2014 had to sacrifice five sitting seats to accommodate the JDU, which turned out to be the biggest gainer. It had just two MPs in 2014 and managed to win 16 of the 17 seats in Bihar in 2019.

However, only a few months back, the BJP and the JDU had engaged in massive war of words over who would lead the NDA in the next assembly polls in Bihar. BJP’s Dalit face Sanjay Paswan suggested Nitish Kumar should make way for a BJP chief minister in 2020 and graduate to national politics.

The remarks by Sanjay Paswan left the JDU fuming and the normalcy returned only after Union Home Minister and BJP president Amit Shah said the BJP-JDU alliance in Bihar is “atal” (immovable) and that the Bihar Assembly election will be contested under the leadership of Nitish Kumar.

Amit Shah’s effort to put an end to all sorts of speculation over Nitish Kumar’s role in the NDA for 2020 Bihar Assembly election was seen as the BJP’s inability to gain foothold in the state where it faced a massive defeat in 2015 state polls following split with the JDU.

Though in 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP made a clean sweep winning all the 17 seats it contested, the party still believes assembly election is a totally different ball game. The party does not want to risk going alone in the election and prefers to bank of the image of “Sushasan Babu” Nitish Kumar. The combination has worked well for the alliance in 2005 and 2010 when it registered emphatic victories.

However, following the Maharashtra episode, the BJP in Bihar has started targeting the JDU signaling that any move mirroring the Shiv Sena could spell disaster for the regional party.

Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi congratulated Devendra Fadnavis after his Saturday swearing in with a twisted tweet taking a veiled aim at Nitish Kumar too. He said, “Sharad Pawar like Nitish Kumar knew that BJP is more reliable than Congress. Shiv Sena was like RJD. Very difficult to work with party like Shiv Sena or RJD, full of lumpens.”

Sources say, Sushil Modi, considered close to Nitish Kumar, through this tweet obliquely hinted at Bihar chief minister advising him to keep distance from the Congress, which has never appeared averse to Nitish Kumar for his secular credentials. Sushil Kumar Modi also warned Nitish Kumar against allying again with the RJD the way he did in 2015.

Speculation is rife that BJP firebrand leader and Union minister Giriraj Singh’s comments after Fadnavis took oath as Maharshtra chief minister was also aimed at Nitish Kumar. Singh said, “Greed and arrogance invite disaster.”

Lok Janshakti Party leader and Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan’s statement is too being seen as a veiled message to the JDU national president. “Animal which is indecisive whether to go left or right gets killed on the road,” Paswan wrote on Twitter.

The JDU too obliquely criticized BJP for allying with NCP (Ajit Pawar) and relinquishing its ideology for power.

In such circumstances, the bone of contention could be the seat-sharing agreement between the BJP and the JDU. Both parties would be keen to grab a larger piece of the cake. Remember, some seats also have to be given to the LJP, another alliance partner of the NDA in Bihar.

The BJP would be keen to settle for the seat-sharing formula based on the Lok Sabha elections where both parties fought equal number of seats. However, the JDU would want to keep the 2010 formula as the reference point when both parties fought elections together. The JDU contested on 141 seats and BJP on 102.

However, the BJP, in any case, would not want the JDU to fight on more number of seats that itself. This would not only send a message of the JDU being a big brother in the alliance but might also give the JDU an opportunity to dump the BJP post-poll if it wins more than 100 seats in a house of 243. The half way mark in Bihar Assembly is 122.

Interestingly, results of the assembly elections in neighboring Jharkhand may also have a bearing on the BJP-JDU alliance in Bihar. The BJP is fighting the Jharkhand election alone, snapping ties with All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU). If it wins Jharkhand election, it will not only strengthen its position in NDA but will also shield from pressure politics of the alliance partners.

Jharkhand Assembly Election 2019: JD(U) backs ex-minister Saryu Roy against CM Raghubar Das.

Source – hindustantimes.com

The Janata Dal (United) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) who are partners in Bihar have taken the gloves off in Jharkhand over former state minister Saryu Roy who is contesting the assembly election against chief minister Raghubar Das from Jamshedpur-East.

This became apparent with a senior JD (U) leader extending full support to Roy and also claiming that the party’s president and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar could campaign in Jamshedpur for Roy.

“If Saryu Roy requests Nitish Kumar to campaign for him, we all would request the JD-U president to campaign for Roy. We will extend all possible support to Saryu Roy. Every one of us will camp in Jamshedpur if need be. He has always been raising his voice against corruption. He continued to fight corruption in high places in spite of being in the government,” Lalan Singh, senior JD (U) leader and MP from Munger in Bihar told reporters in Ranchi on Tuesday.

Singh further said they felt Roy was denied ticket because he kept raising his voice against corruption in Jharkhand.

“If you deny someone ticket for opposing corruption, what will he do? Naturally he decided to symbolically fight against the CM and filed nomination. JD (U) welcomes and fully supports his decision. We have already withdrawn our candidate there,” Singh said.

The BJP tried to play down the electoral showdown with the JD (U).

BJP spokesperson in Jharkhand, Pratul Shahdeo said, “We don’t have alliance with JD (U) in Jharkhand. Our alliance with them is restricted to Bihar. Moreover, it is not in culture our party to comment on internal decisions of other parties.”

Meanwhile, Roy said on Tuesday that he has applied for three symbols – farmer on tractor, gas cylinder and sewing machine which will be decided on November 21. Interestingly, JD (U)’s official poll symbol in Jharkhand is farmer riding tractor, which is almost similar to what Roy has suggested as his choice.

“If there is no official JD (U) candidate in a particular seat, the DC can allot farmer riding tractor symbol to independent candidate,” Salkhan Murmu, JD (U) Jharkhand president said.

Leaders close to Roy said that former BJP leader Shatrughan Sinha, former union minister Yashwant Sinha have also expressed their willingness to address rallies and hold roadshows in Jamshedpur to support Roy.

“Union minister Ramvilas Paswan too is being requested to send Chirag Paswan if he is not able to come for campaigning in favour of Roy,” one of the leader quoted above said.

JMM working president Hemant Soren has extended unconditional support and appealed all opposition parties to extend support to Roy. However, the Congress, which got the Jamsedhpur East in seat sharing with JMM has fielded its national spokesperson Gourav Vallabh and is yet to take a call on his withdrawing his candidature.

On Monday, the JD (U) had announced that it would not field candidate against Roy from Jamsedhpur East. It had asked its official candidate Sanjay Thakur for Jamshedpur-East and Sanjiv Acharya for Jamshedpur-West to withdraw from fray. Neither of them filed nominations.

Samajwadi Party (SP) state general secretary Ali Raza said their candidates too did not file nomination from the seat in support of Roy.

BJP banking on multi-polar contest in Jharkhand assembly election 2019.

Source – hindustantimes.com

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has set itself a target of winning more than 65 seats in the 81-member Jharkhand assembly, is banking on a multi-polar contest in the state to edge past its opponents. The Party which is fighting to retain the assembly in the state has not been able to iron out differences with ally All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU) over seat sharing, even as other NDA allies the Janata Dal (United) or JDU and the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) are contesting alone. Jharkhand will vote in five phases, starting November 30.

LJP president Chirag Paswan on Tuesday said his party will contest 50 seats in the state on its own and announced names of five candidates for polls. He told mediapersons that the LJP’s offer for an alliance to the BJP went unanswered. The other ally JDU was the first off the block to announce that it would go alone.

Even as the saffron party is downplaying friction between allies, it is hopeful that the absence of a contender to incumbent CM Raghubar Das from the opposition side could work to its advantage in fighting battling anti-incumbency and infighting.

In the state with a large Tribal population, the BJP will have to defend its performance on issues such as of unemployment, farm distress and economic slowdown.

“There is no one bloc that will gain the anti-incumbency vote. There are many factions in the opposition camp as well,” a party functionary said.

On whether the Sena-BJP fallout in Maharashtra has had an impact on the talks with allies in the poll-bound state, a state functionary said the party is making sure that the pre-poll discussions leave no scope for digressions later. He also acknowledged that there has been “discomfort” over the decision to give Das a second turn.

In the last assembly poll, the BJP had won 37 seats will AJSU had won 5 seats.

To be sure, the opposition Mahagathbandhan of the opposition has on board the Congress, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and seat sharing discussions are on with the RJD. Former chief minister Babulal Marandi’s Jharkhand Vikas Morcha(Prajatantrik) has also opted to go alone.

“The party is ensuring that there is no repetition of a Maharashtra-like situation where rebels cut into the BJP vote share and came in the way of party getting a clear majority. It is also not worried about LJP and JDU contesting alone as these are allies of the NDA at the centre,” said the second functionary.

Though the party high command has indicated that Das will be leading the state unit into the electoral battle, a section within the party had expressed concern over naming Das as the CM for a second term.

“There have been reports of disagreement within the party unit at the state level. But for now the leadership has thrown its weight behind Das,” said a party functionary not wishing to be named.

The fissures came to fore in February this year, when Saryu Rai, minister of food and public distribution wrote to BJP national president Amit Shah, expressing concern over the Jharkhand chief minister’s style of functioning. He had also According alleged that the Jharkhand government was protecting the interests of a few business houses.

On Sunday while announcing the first set of contenders for the polls, BJP working President JP Nadda said had given Das a pat on the back. “Five years back Jharkhand was known for corruption and instability. Today, under the leadership of Raghubar Das, Jharkhand is known for its stability and development. Corruption has been brought down and the state is moving towards development,” Nadda said.

Even as the party refuted all allegations against Das, a second state functionary said there have been concerns about the choice of contestants as well; a case in point being Bhanu Pratap Shahi, a former minister in the Madhu Koda’s government and is accused in a Rs 130 crore medicine scam, who will contest from Bhavnathpur Assembly constituency and Shashi Bhushan, accused of murder, who is being fielded from Panki.

BJP’s ally problem in poll-bound Jharkhand.

Source – indiatoday.in

For the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which lost an opportunity to form a government in Maharashtra because of the difficult attitude of ally Shiv Sena, it may not be an end of story in terms of problems from partners as it was facing a similar situation in poll-bound Jharkhand too.

In Jharkhand, where elections to its 81-member Assembly will be held in five phases from November 30, the BJP will have to fight against one of its oldest alliance partners, the Janata Dal-United (JD-U), which has decided to contest separately on all the seats in the state.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had made the party’s stand clear during the national council meeting last week in New Delhi, where he was re-elected as the JD-U chief for a second consecutive time.

A senior JD-U leader said the party will contest independently in the five-phased Jharkhand Assembly polls and not in alliance with the BJP.

The JD-U has a history of snubbing the BJP.

In 2013, after the then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi was projected as the BJP’s Prime Ministerial face, the JD-U opposed the move and walked out of the alliance.

After the debacle in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the JD-U stitched a Grand Alliance with Lalu Prasad Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Congress in the state for the 2015 Assembly polls.

The Grand Alliance comprising the three parties cornered the BJP in the Assembly polls in the state. However in June 2017, the JD-U walked out of the alliance and again joined the NDA to form a government in the state.

The BJP and the JD-U contested on equal number of seats in the state during the Lok Sabha polls. However, the Nitish Kumar-led party did not join the Cabinet over differences on the respectable representation in the government.

Following the snubbing at the Centre, Nitish Kumar also did not gave more prominence to the BJP in the state in his cabinet expansion.

The JD-U also did not back the Modi government’s ambitious Triple Talaq Bill in Parliament.

On the other hand, the BJP is also facing an uphill task of gaining the trust of other allies in the state.

The BJP had the Hemant Soren-led Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) as an alliance partner in the state till 2012. But the JMM also ditched the BJP and joined hands with the Congress in the state.

The Grand Alliance consisting of the JMM-Congress and the RJD have already announced their alliance in the state with Soren as its Chief Ministerial candidate.

The JMM will be contesting on 43 seats while the Congress 31, leaving the rest of the seven seats to the RJD.

The 81-member Jharkhand Assembly is set to go for a five-phased election from November 30 to December 20. The counting of votes will take place on December 23.

JDU upbeat ahead of National Executive meet, Nitish Kumar may announce road map to achieve national party status

Source: indiatoday.in

The National Executive Meeting of the Janata Dal United (JDU) will be held on June 9 under the chairmanship of party chief and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. Nitish Kumar is likely to announce JD(U)’s road map to expand base in other states at the meeting.

JD(U) National Secretary Ravinder Singh said that the membership of a party lasts for three years. The members were inducted on June 5, 2016, and now on June 9, a meeting will be held to induct the members for the next three years.

The state president of JD(U) in Bihar Vashishtha Narayan Singh has directed every MLA, MP, MLC, office bearers and national, state and village level officials of the party to initiate the process of induction into the party by June 8.

The meeting comes amid rumours flying high about the rift with National Democratic Alliance (NDA) of which JD(U) is an ally. However, JD(U) on Friday asserted that NDA in the state was “intact”, dismissing speculation of a rift within the alliance in the wake of the party’s decision to “stay out” of the Narendra Modi government.

Earlier, Nitish Kumar had declined to be part of the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre in protest against the “symbolic representation” of one ministerial berth offered to it but refuted suggestions of any difference with its ally.

In the recent general elections, the NDA, comprising BJP, JD(U) and LJP, won 39 out of 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar, the best performance by any political formation in the last few decades. Nitish Kumar’s party bagged 16 seats.

The meeting also comes in the backdrop of series of comments from JD(U)’s opponents in Bihar.

Recently, RJD leader and former Bihar Chief Minister Rabri Devi said she would have no problem if Nitish Kumar joins grand alliance of the Opposition. Another Lalu Yadav loyalist, RJD’s Raghuvansh Prasad Singh has waived the white flag in front of the JDU leader.

RJD’s leader Tejashwi Yadav has also gone virtually silent on Nitish Kumar’s criticism on social media. Tejashwi Yadav had earlier tweeted personal comments against Nitish Kumar.

Since the Lok Sabha poll results, the Bihar leader of opposition has not tweeted against Nitish Kumar and has restricted himself to greetings and congratulatory messages.

Meanwhile, KC Tyagi, Secretary General of JD(U), told India Today TV that JD(U) would contest the Bihar Assembly elections in 2020 with NDA. “NDA is intact in Bihar and we will fight the 2020 elections together,” KC Tyagi said.

KC Tyagi further stated that RJD is a divided house and Lalu Prasad Yadav’s RJD might come to Nitish Kumar-led party’s fold. “RJD is a divided house, don’t be surprised if the old guard of Lalu Yadav’s party come to our fold,” KC Tyagi said.

JD(U) not only increased it vote share but also dealt a major blow to its opponents in Bihar including RLSP’s Upendra Kushwaha and HUM’s Jeetan Ram Manjhi. Both — Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) and Hindustani Awam Morcha (HUM) — fared miserably in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. The NDA ally in Bihar increased its vote share from 17% in 2014 to 21% this time. India Today-Axis MyIndia post poll survey suggested that 27% Yadavs, 13% Muslim’s voted for NDA in Bihar.

Patna Durbar: How Nitish Kumar-Sushil Modi’s bond keeps BJP-JDU alliance afloat

Source: .indiatoday.in

A June 4 tweet from Union Minister Giriraj Singh, wherein he apparently taunted key ally Nitish Kumar for attending iftar events just “for a show” followed by Sushil Modi’s somewhat ambassadorial defence of Bihar chief minister has once again highlighted the case of the two cozy, but somewhat mismatched, allies in Bihar.

Sushil Modi’s BJP and Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal-United (JDU) are clearly bound by a common vision and purpose in Bihar, yet also pushed apart by their political teammates and their temperaments.

It’s not for nothing that Giriraj Singh’s tweet has once again brought the irony behind the electoral friendship of Kumar and Sushil Modi, the tallest BJP leader in Bihar and one of the strongest supporters of Nitish-BJP alliance, to the fore. Kumar and Sushil Modi, in their contemporaneous careers, often symbolise the prisoner’s dilemma that circumstances had thrust upon them.

The two have somehow seen through the bitterness and understood that they were better off collaborating than confronting. But there are spoilers galore. Singh was clearly one of them.

Fresh from his promotion to the Union Cabinet in the new Narendra Modi government, the senior BJP leader, for whom Nitish Kumar had campaigned during the Lok Sabha elections to ensure his victory, on Tuesday morning tweeted four pictures from three different iftars, saying: “How beautiful the pictures could have been had falahaar (fruit feast) been organised with similar fervour during Navratri. We fall behind in our own rituals and religion but are ahead in showing off.”

These pictures were from iftar parties organised by the JD-U, Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) and Opposition alliance member Jitan Ram Manjhi’s Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) (HAMS). Since Nitish Kumar was the only leader present in all the four pictures, the man and the target behind Singh’s tweet was not lost on anyone.

Not only this, Singh’s tweet was uploaded on the eve of Eid ul-Fitr and its underlying message seemed to be confronting the inclusive outreach of Prime Minister Modi and the secular fabric of the Nitish Kumar-led NDA government in Bihar.

Though there are suggestions that BJP President Amit Shah has advised Singh against making such comments, the Union minister has not withdrawn his tweet, which was still visible till the time of filing this report.

A section of JD-U leaders, however, refused to accept Giriraj’s tweet as a coincidence. They see a purpose in the tweet, as Singh’s quip has come at a time when relations with the BJP have turned frosty after Nitish Kumar refused to accept a “symbolic representation in the Union Cabinet.”

The BJP had offered a solitary Cabinet berth to Nitish Kumar’s JD-U in the Union Cabinet, describing it as a “symbolic representation.”

The Bihar chief minister, who heads a party of 16 Lok Sabha and six Rajya Sabha MPs, promptly shot down the saffron proposal on the ground that it should have been proportionate and not symbolic.

In what seemed like a return riposte, Nitish expanded his ministry on June 2 by inducting as many as eight JD-U members while offering just one berth to the BJP, which was not accepted by the latter. “Giriraj Singh is not alone to have taken potshots at the NDA alliance in Bihar.

In 2017, when JD-U rejoined NDA, our former National President Sharad Yadav had defied the decision. While JD-U quickly showed the door to our former national president, the BJP has failed to force Giriraj to make amends,” said a senior JD-U leader.

JD-U chief spokesperson Sanjay Singh has described Giriraj Singh’s tweet as a clear manifestation of the fact that BJP has no control over such leaders. “It is time for the BJP to take the comments of Giriraj seriously and take action,” he said.

They say momentous eras are appreciated only in retrospect, but in this case, where Nitish Kumar accepted BJP as an alliance partner, the two have together delivered magic.

A landmark Lok Sabha election victory in 2019 where the NDA won 39 of Bihar’s 40 seats looks both unprecedented and unrepeatable. The combined magic of BJP and JD-U made a spectacular start in 2005 when the two parties together unseated Lalu Prasad who seemed invincible then.

Since then, the two parties have prospered and gone from strength to strength, evolving a relationship that was to be the making of modern Bihar.

When the BJP and JD-U separated in 2013 and fought two elections against each other, the BJP won the 2014 Lok Sabha poll while Nitish Kumar won the 2015 assembly polls. The two once again came together in 2017 to deliver a watershed result in the 2019 Lok Sabha election.

Today, however, with Bihar Assembly polls scheduled in 2020, the two parties, JD-U and BJP, need to unthaw their relationship to fill up the fissures, which have come up after the BJP refused to let Nitish have more than one representation in the Union Cabinet.Giriraj Singh or his tweets can make the process a painful one for NDA in Bihar.