Despite two massive public gatherings in Saharsa and Muzaffarpur, and several tempting announcements by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, why does Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) seem uncomfortable to take on Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar directly? In his speeches, Narendra Modi, unlike his campaigns during Lok Sabha polls, had nothing much to talk about his real rival Nitish Kumar.
With his comparatively shorter speeches, all PM Modi focused on was Lalu Prasad Yadav and his ‘tainted’ political career. PM Modi said,
While there were direct attacks on Lalu, PM Modi stuck to veiled attacks on CM Nitish Kumar. “Do you want liberation from a ‘goonda raj’?” is all Modi asked.
Anti-Incumbency is one of the main reasons why BJP was supported not just in LS polls but Haryana and Rajasthan assembly elections too. There is yet no such notion in Bihar for the BJP to be benefited. Nitish Kumar had been on the CM chair for two consecutive terms excluding a short span when Jitan Ram Manjhi was handed over the throne.
Nitish Kumar has been ruling Bihar for 10 years now, out of which 7.5 years was shared with the BJP under National Democratic Alliance. Two years are probably a very short period for BJP to come up with something concrete against the current chief minister of Bihar who hardly has a taint on his image.
If we try and decode the two major failures Nitish Kumar is accounted for, BJP will have equal or even greater role to play in those failures. Hence, the silence!
Non-implementation of Land Reforms Commission
One of the key promises Nitish Kumar had made after occupying the CM chair was to carry out land reforms. A Land Reforms Commission (LRC) under the chairmanship of Dr. Bandyopadhyay, who is known as the main curator of land reforms in West Bengal, was set up soon after that.
The full report of the Commission was submitted in April 2008. JD(U) was not the only one to be blamed for not taking the first step towards the implementation of this Commission. BJP is known for representing the upper caste particularly Bhumihars who own major share when it comes to the land in the state, and it was the fear of losing vote bank that the LRC recommendations weren’t considered.
Violence in Patna after Brahmeshwar Mukhiya was murdered
The then Nitish Kumar-led NDA government had seen its second term and the CM earned respect for ensuring law and order. However, on June 1, 2012 after Ranvir Sena chief Brahmeshwar Mukhiya was killed early in the morning, about 30 of his supporters equipped with hockey sticks, bricks, stones, firearms and crude bombs attacked on Bhimrao Ambedkar Welfare Hostel of Patna University.
Brahmeshwar Mukhiya, a Bhumihar himself enjoyed support from the same people who have been votebank for the BJP in Bihar; Rajput, Bhumihar, Lala and Brahmin. The reason why probably JD(U) had to let it go.
Nitish’s Incorruptible image: There is one thing that BJP cannot argue about and that is the incorruptible image of Nitish Kumar. They may call his rule as ‘goonda raj’, but corruption is something that Nitish Kumar has always kept himself away from. Modi can get away with comments like ‘Maa-bete ki sarakar’, and commenting on Nitish’s ‘DNA of Democracy’ after JD(U)’s alliance with RJD, but can never term him as corrupt.
No CM Candidate: The propositions of LS polls are entirely different from that of the assembly elections. BJP faced a similar crisis in Delhi and was compelled to name a CM candidate at the 11th hour, which eventually failed as Kiran Bedi couldn’t even save her own seat.
On the other hand, Nitish Kumar is a well established leader who is known for bringing Bihar back from ‘Jungal Raj’. He had been an obvious choice of Bihar in the last two elections. It’ll be interesting to see if voters go for certainty or they show their faith in the BJP leadership like they did LS polls.
Seat Distribution: While Nitish and Lalu have sorted their differences and have come to terms with equal number of seats, BJP is yet to make a decision on it. Its allies in Bihar – Upendra Kushwaha-led Rashtriya Lok Samta Party, Ram Vilas Paswan-led Lok Janshakti Party, Jitan Ram Manjhi-led Hindustan Awam Morcha and Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav-led Jan Adhikar Morcha
A meeting for the same is to be conducted on August 31st, and it will be an uphill task for the BJP to satisfy the urge of all allies. NDA is legging way behind from the Mahagathbandhan. With only a couple of months in hand, it seems the BJP has a lot of distance to cover. Narendra Modi’s next speech is scheduled at Bhagalpur airport ground on September 1,