Patna: Amid the ongoing debate in Bihar’s ruling NDA over the candidate for the post of the chief minister ahead of the 2020 state Assembly polls, a senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and former Union minister, C P Thakur, has now said that there are “several able, suitable and capable” candidates in BJP for the CM’s post.
“Neither there is lack of leadership nor leaders in the BJP in Bihar. There are several able, suitable and capable [candidates] in BJP for the CM’s post,” said Thakur, who belongs to the powerful upper caste Bhumihar.
This comes in the backdrop of the demand by many BJP leaders and workers that the saffron party should be holding the post of the CM.
According to the sources in BJP, nearly half a dozen senior leaders including three Union Ministers (Giriraj Singh, Nityanand Rai and Ravi Shankar Prasad) and three ministers in Nitish Kumar-led BJP-JD(U) coalition government (Nand Kishor Yadav, Prem Kumar and Mangal Pandey) are key CM aspirants in the state.
But the party leaders admit that the main contender from the BJP is senior party leader and Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, who is known to be ‘articulate’ and enjoys a clout in the party.
It is a different matter that leader of opposition Tejashwi Yadav on Wednesday described Modi as ‘Nitish Kumar’s man’ for his close and comfortable relationship with the former.
A BJP MLA, who did not want to be named, told NewsClick that Thakur has rightly pointed out that there are several faces in the party for the CM post. “The party is no longer like what it was a decade ago. It has changed, become strong and powerful, and now enjoys wide support of people.”
One after another, senior BJP leaders continue to embarrass CM Nitish Kumar. But so far, top national BJP leadership is silent and has not asked party leaders to make any statement. The situation fuels the speculation that the party has given a go-ahead to ‘operation 2020’.
Despite Sushil Kumar Modi’s attempt at damage control – when he called Nitish Kumar ‘captain’ of NDA in Bihar – BJP leaders continue to target the CM. Modi had said that Kumar is and will remain the captain of the NDA in 2020 Assembly polls. Interestingly, 10 minutes after Modi posted this on his official Twitter account, he deleted it and it re-appeared only after it was re-tweeted nearly two hours later. Sources in BJP claim that Modi had realised his mistake initially and hence had deleted the post. But after JD-U leaders pressurised him, he re-posted it to cool the situation down.
But within BJP, another name that is being discussed for the post of CM is of Nityanand Rai, who belongs to RJD chief Lalu Prasad’s caste – Yadav. Rai is being seen as a leader with the potential to make dent in Lalu’s traditional social support base. "BJP has already made a dent in Lalu's vote bank. Now, the party has to project a Yadav leader in place of Nitish Kumar to get their support," said a BJP leader and former MLA, while speaking to NewsClick.
However, Thakur has said that the national leadership of BJP has not discussed anything and only national leadership will decide the face of chief minister.
Earlier this week, senior BJP leader Sanjay Paswan had unleashed a political storm when he stated that Nitish Kumar has occupied the chief minister’s chair for quite a long time. As votes are now garnered for the NDA in the name of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he should vacate the CM’s chair for the BJP, opined Paswan.
Paswan had also paid a visit to Delhi and had met Giriraj Singh, who is one of the CM aspirants. This is widely being percived as a political message. A fortnight after Lok Sabha polls, supporters of Singh had raised slogans in Begusarai demanding that he be the next chief minister of Bihar. It was alarming for the present CM ahead of the upcoming state Assembly polls.
BJP – which is part of the coalition government in the state – is no longer comfortable with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. The saffron party has started directly targeting him and his agenda in public to embarrass him and damage his image ahead of the 2020 state Assembly polls.
Giriraj Singh, a vocal champion of Hindutva politics, has publicly attacked JD-U and Nitish Kumar for opposing abrogation of Article 370,Triple Talaq and NRC. He also questioned Nitish Kumar on Monday for his statement that the mineral-rich Jharkhand, ruled by BJP, has failed to achieve desired development.
Also read: Operation 2020: BJP Eyeing Riddance of CM Nitish Kumar?