Patna: Refusing to say anything on countrywide protests against the new citizenship law or CAA and the National Register of Citizens (NRC), Bihar Chief Minister and Janata Dal (United) president Nitish Kumar on Tuesday made a bid to nip all speculation about differences within the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA), claiming that “all is well”.
His comment comes a day after JD(U) vice president and poll strategist Prashant Kishor sought more seats from ally Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the 2020 Assembly polls, saying his party would play the ‘big brother’s’ role. Kishor put forward a formula under which JD-U would contest more than 50% of the 243 Assembly seats, rejecting BJP’s old formula of 50:50 seat sharing.
However, Kumar tried to downplay the ongoing war of words between Kishor and BJP leaders, including Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi, when he said there was no rift in the NDA.”Sab Thik Hai,Vivad jaisi koi baat nahi hai” ( All is well, there is no dispute).
The JD(U) chief’s comments have once again disappointed all those who expected him to break his silence over ongoing protest against CAA and NRC in Bihar and across the country, unlike Kishor, who had made his views against CAA public.
Meanwhile, peaceful protests against CAA and NRC continue in Bihar. The state has till now witnessed two shutdowns—first by the Left parties supported by the other Opposition parties on December 19 and again on December 21 by the Rashtriya Janata Dal, once again backed by all Opposition and Left parties.
It may be recalled that JD-U is an ally of the ruling BJP and had voted in favour of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB) in both Houses of Parliament. It is a different matter that after Kishor had publicly opposed the party’s support to CAB and termed NRC as equivalent to “demonetisation of citizenship”, saying the biggest sufferers would be the poor and the marginalised, Nitish Kumar was compelled to say “Kaahe ka NRC? Bilkul laagu nahin hoga (What NRC? It will not be implemented) as recently as December 20.
However, Kumar’s stance that BJP and JD-U would contest the next Bihar Assembly polls together and saying that “all is well”, is being seen by his critics as his “surrender” to BJP.
Kishor on Tuesday targeted Sushil Modi when he tweeted “The leadership of Nitish Kumar in Bihar and the role of JDU as the largest party has been decided by the people of Bihar, not by any other party leader or its top leadership." He further taunted at Modi "It is a pleasant experience" to hear "lectures on political dignity and ideology" from Sushil Modi, who became Deputy Chief Minister even after the "defeat in 2015" due to "circumstances".
In fact, Modi on Monday attacked Kishor for his stand that JD-U should contest more seats than BJP. ”The person running business for profit first tries to create a market for his service, thinks about the welfare of the country."
Modi has reportedly said “People, who didn't enter politics because of their ideology but by running a company that collects election data and frames slogans, are hell-bent on benefiting the opposition alliance by making remarks against the (NDA) alliance.”
However, political watchers say it is too early to predict anything right now.”After BJP was defeated in neighbouring Jharkhand, Nitish Kumar is hopeful of bargaining with top leadership of the saffron party. But a group of ambitious leaders in BJP is not ready to accept Nitish Kumar’s leadership to fulfil their old dream of installing a CM from BJP”, they say.