Amid the sparring between some JD(U) and BJP leaders over continuance of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s leadership, and the Opposition RJD’s posers to the BJP on the issue, Deputy CM and senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi has backed “captain” Nitish.
“Nitish is the captain of the NDA in Bihar and will remain its Captain in the 2020 Assembly elections. When the captain is hitting fours and sixes and defeating rivals by innings, where is the question of any change?” Sushil Modi said on Wednesday.
His remarks came two days after BJP MLC and former Union minister Sanjay Paswan advised Nitish to “move to the Centre and leave Bihar to the BJP and second-rung JD(U) leadership”. Paswan also expressed displeasure at the JD(U) not supporting the BJP on the NRC.
Senior BJP leader and former Union minister C P Thakur had supported Paswan, saying that “now the BJP should be given a chance to rule the NDA coalition”.
Damage control amid political posturing
As the seniormost BJP leader and Deputy CM of Bihar, Sushil Kumar Modi has been trying to do damage control by defending Nitish Kumar. Sushil Modi has always stood for him, even inviting the ire of the BJP top leadership by calling Nitish “PM material” in 2012. Ahead of Assembly elections, it is now time for early posturing by both alliance partners. While the BJP feels it is time to assert itself, after the NDA won 39 of 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar, the JD(U) is banking on Nitish.
Sushil Modi’s defence of Nitish’s leadership — the second time in two months — comes even as the war of words between leaders of the alliance partners has begun to intensify. Sources said the state BJP had always been divided, with one camp supporting Nitish’s leadership for 2020 and another for the BJP leading the NDA.
RJD vice-president Shivanand Tewary, who had recently said that his party can accept Nitish as Grand Alliance leader if he quits the NDA, said: “If some senior BJP leaders have started questioning Nitish’s leadership, one can guess where it is coming from. The BJP-JD (U) relationship could be further strained as the BJP has now started to prevail over Nitish, who had to play second fiddle to PM Narendra Modi in the Lok Sabha polls.”