M A I N   N E W S

Modi’s rise puts BJP-JD(U) alliance on the rocks
BJP getting ready for life without JD(U) Advani dials Sharad, Badal
Vibha Sharma/TNS

New Delhi, June 12
The 17-year-old BJP-JD(U) marriage is on the rocks over the elevation of Narendra Modi, but the NDA lead party does not appear overly worried. Emboldened by friendly overtures from AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa, the BJP seems prepared to move on with new friends.

The “secular” JD(U), which has made its unease amply clear over the “2002-riots tainted” Modi acquiring centrestage, wants to break-up, but the BJP wants Nitish to make the first move.

NDA working chairman and BJP veteran LK Advani is learnt to have called up Nitish Kumar and Sharad Yadav on Wednesday in what is being interpreted as a last-ditch effort. He is learnt to have told them that it was important for the parties to contest the Lok Sabha polls together, party sources said.

However, what Nitish seems to be looking for is a categorical statement from the BJP (something even Advani tried for when he resigned from the BJP’s organisational posts on Monday) that Modi will not be the NDA’s Prime Ministerial candidate.

At the same time, an unfazed BJP also appears to be preparing for a life without JD(U). Party spokesman Shahnawaz Hussain maintained that the mandate of the 10.5 crore people of Bihar was not for the JD(U) or the BJP, but the NDA alliance. “How can we insult the faith of the people?” he reasoned.

There is plenty at stake for the two allies, but the BJP is also feeling emboldened after JD(U)’s humiliating Maharajganj defeat. The saffron party is also certain that while the Congress may welcome the JD(U) in its fold, but then it would stand to lose RJD and Lalu Prasad, who is currently holding a bigger sway in the state.

So, while Nitish may get outside support from the Congress to save his present government, when it comes to brass tacks in future, the grand old party may opt for Lalu.

While the JD-U is contemplating splitting from the BJP and even warming up to the idea of a federal front floated by Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, a deceptively calm BJP seems to have decided to let the JD-U do all the talking, at least for the time being.

According to senior BJP leaders, they will wait for the JD-U to make the first move so that Nitish ends up becoming the “bad guy” who broke the alliance and the confidence of the people of Bihar.

Dismissing observations that Modi was the cause of trouble in the NDA backyard, they argue that the Gujarat Chief Minister was very much a part of the BJP even when Nitish decided to go with the saffron fold over 17 years ago. “What is so new, what has changed?” they ask.

The BJP is all set to go solo on all 40 seats, sources said. Today, there were consultations on the latest crisis precipitated by the JD-U, with party president Rajnath Singh instructing all leaders and spokespersons to continue maintaining that the alliance is intact. He said the emphasis would be on the fact that the people’s mandate was for the NDA coalition and not JD-U alone, sources said.

“Nitish has been successful in Bihar because of the alliance with the BJP and he should not repeat the mistake of underestimating us like he did in the case of Maharajganj. He lost the seat badly because the people there rejected his anti-Modi stance and our cadre also did not help his candidate,” sources add.

They say that despite the BJP winning 67 seats as against JD-U’s 47 in 2005, the BJP favoured Nitish as Chief Minister because the fight was against Lalu. “The BJP has always propped up Nitish, even more than its own CMs, including Modi. He appears to have conveniently forgotten this,” a source said.

JD-U doesn’t need BJP in Bihar

New Delhi/Patna: The half-way mark in the Bihar Assembly is 122 and the JD-U needs the support of only four more MLAs. Three Independent MLAs are believed to have promised to back Nitish Kumar. The Congress may also extend outside support with its four members. — TNS





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