The Lok Janshakti Party’s decision to put up candidates against all the Janata Dal United nominees has, by design or default, thrown BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) into a disarray. The joining of the LJP by three leaders strongly associated with RSS—Rajendra Singh, Rameshwar Chaurasia and Jawahar Prasad—has complicated the scenario so much that one fails to understand as to where the Bihar politics is heading for. Incidentally all three of them had contested from old Shahabad district in the past.
Both Singh and Chaurasia unsuccessfully contested the 2015 Assembly election on the BJP tickets. It was then highlighted in the media that Singh may even be considered as the chief ministerial face of the saffron party as the top brass of the BJP never wanted Sushil Kumar Modi to be projected for that post. But the election results poured cold water on the BJP’s plan.
The Grand Alliance came to power with a thumping majority. The BJP could win only 53 seats and both Rajendra Singh and Rameshwar Chaurasia lost from their own constituencies–Dinara and Nokha.
Since then not much has been heard about them, they finally decided to join the LJP. The move was seen with suspicion and many political pundits are of the view that it has much to do with the larger RSS plan. But here is a scope to interpret this development in a different way too. Rajendra Singh joined the LJP on Oct 6 only when he was denied BJP ticket. Five-time BJP MLA Jawahar Prasad also jumped on the LJP bandwagon only when he learnt that his traditional seat of Sasaram has gone to the ally, the Janata Dal United.
So not much should be read into these moves as they are influenced more by personal ambition. This is not for the first time that seasoned RSS and BJP men have crossed over. The former Bihar BJP president Inder Singh Namdhari deserted his own party way back in Nov 1990 to join the then Janata Dal and later became a minister in Lalu Prasad cabinet. This is not the only instance.
Samresh Singh (Jharkhand) and Shankar Singh Waghela and Keshubhai Patel, both of Gujarat, were much bigger RSS face than Rajendra Singh, yet they deserted the Parivar to join the rival parties. Ideologically, Shiv Sena is the closest ally of the BJP, yet today it is in alliance with the Congress. Besides, who will forget Kalyan Singh, the chief minister of UP at the time of the demolition of Babri Masjid on Dec 6, 1992.
Almost seven years later he had such a bitter quarrel with the then PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee that he had to lose his post. He left the party to join hands with none else but the arch-rival Mulayam Singh Yadav. Former MP CM Uma Bharati too had left the BJP after she lost her post. It is much later that both Kalyan Singh and Uma Bharati made a home coming. Kalyan was rewarded with the post of Governor, but Uma Bharati is still a neglected politician.
The LJP’s decision to part ways with the JDU, but at the same time shower fulsome praise on Prime Minister Narendra Modi has caught the saffron brigade on wrong foot. On the eve of Assembly election, the saffron party is a deeply divided house. There is one faction which is comfortably placed and little to worry about the recent developments. Take the case of Union ministers Giriraj Singh and Ashwini Choubey. They figure nowhere in prolong and difficult seat-sharing talks with Janata Dal United. The reason is clear.
They are the bitterest critics of chief minister Nitish Kumar. Incidentally, before the June 16, 2013 break up between the BJP and Janata Dal United, they were both ministers in the Nitish cabinet. So, they have personal grudge against him. As they have nothing to lose, they want Nitish to be cut to size. Then there are frustrated lot in the BJP who had either lost the last Assembly poll or have been sidelined within the saffron camp. Rajendra Singh, Rameshwar Chaurasia and Jawahar
Prasad may be among them as they have been rendered useless in their own party. The LJP provided them an opportunity at this moment. As those who are comfortably placed or are frustrated lot, have a common objective–both are of the view that the party is dancing to the tune of Nitish so far as Bihar is concerned.
Then there is a third faction in Bihar BJP, who see in Nitish Kumar the best bet for survival. This camp is led by former deputy chief minister, Sushil Kumar Modi. As they know the serious limitations of the BJP in Bihar, they want to maintain the status quo.
The Assembly election of 2015 has further exposed the weakness of BJP. Though the party contested on 157 seats and had every opportunity to dictate terms on smaller partners then–the LJP, RLSP and HAM–the saffron party ended up getting just 53 seats and the entire NDA only 58.
In contrast the RJD and Janata Dal United which as the Grand Alliance partners contested 101 seats each, bagged 80 and 71 seats respectively. Ever since then the Bihar BJP leaders, in particular Sushil Modi, have curbed all the political ambition. As Chota Modi knows that he does not enjoy the blessing of Bada Modi he remained contended with whatever he gets in Bihar.
So, when Nitish made a homecoming on July 26, 2017 it came as a sort of Paradise Regained for this faction of the BJP. So far, the Bihar scenario is concerned the central leadership of the BJP is clueless. Sushil Modi was quick to exploit this situation. He saw to it that Rajendra Singh is denied ticket as the latter and not former was privately projected as the CM candidate last time.
As the party has played so much dirty games in other states and in the process sidelined and angered so many committed cadres at the bottom level the whole saffron camp is suffering from trust deficit. It may not be surprising if some more grassroots level BJP cadres work not only against the Janata Dal United candidates but also against their own party nominees.
This would be the by-product of the LJP’s decision to go alone.
(Soroor Ahmed is a senior journalist based in Patna. The views are personal.)