Of kings, kingmakers and pawns
Nitish’s opening gambit in Bihar
SUSHASHAN Babu, Nitish Kumar, is the most unpredictable species in Bihar politics. BJP’s Bihar unit has tried to rein him, but the disciple of Karpoori Thakur changes his track – and tack – each time. Now, Nitish Babu has reportedly told the BJP’s state leadership that the 2019 national election in Bihar will be fought in his name, and not Narendra Modi’s. The demand has baffled the BJP. Former Chief Minister, Jitan Ram Manjhi, tested the political waters with BJP, but returned back to the Rastriya Janta Dal (Lalu ) and Congress front. Another wicket may fall— Upendra Kushwaha, Minister of State in HRD ministry. At present, he is weighing the pros and cons. His party only won two out of the 23 assembly seats allocated by BJP in the last assembly elections, but won three parliament seats in the 2014 elections. Kushwaha met Lalu Prasad Yadav at AIIMS recently, and received an open invitation to join the RJD. Another tricky issue is the distribution of the Parliamentary seats in Bihar in 2019. JD (U) has demanded the implementation of the old formula, under which it will get 25 seats, even as the BJP will fight on 15. However, the family-run party of Ram Vilas Paswan’s brother has demanded seven parliamentary seats. Kushwaha is not ready to give up his three parliamentary seats. If everyone sticks to their stances, the BJP may be able to fight on five seats. The current coalition, led by Nitish, hosted a dinner, which BJP President Amit Shah and Kushwaha did not attend. It is reported that a new formula of 15-15-7-3 is being discussed: JD (U) and BJP will fight on 15 seats each, Paswan family will get seven and three will go to Kushwaha. BJP wants to keep the alleged mafia don, Pappu Yadav, in the coalition. There is chaos and confusion. BJP and Amit Shah are unable to guess which party will support which one in 2019. Finally, the chess board will be drawn by Nitish Babu and not by Saheb or Amit bhai.