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BJP set to expand its political footprint with Bihar

LiveMint logoLiveMint 27-07-2017 Gyan Varma & Anuja

New Delhi: Less than five months after forming the government in Uttar Pradesh, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) scored a coup and established itself as the singular force in the Hindi heartland, with Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar returning to the fold of the party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) after a gap of nearly four years.

The new alliance, between Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) and the BJP and changing political equations in Bihar mean that the latter’s domination in the Hindi heartland is complete; it is in power in almost all of the states across north India. The dominance of BJP is also significant because it means that the NDA under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has successfully divided the opposition parties, a major blow to the plans of Congress. Kumar’s return to the NDA is a major setback for the Congress which planned to build an united front against the BJP in the run-up to the 2019 parliamentary polls.

Bihar and Uttar Pradesh together account for 120 Lok Sabha seats .

“Good governance, transparent and responsible government is the strength of BJP. BJP has started a fight against corruption and Nitish Kumar has joined the fight. Janata Dal (United) and BJP can provide stable government and work for the development of the state,” said a senior BJP leader.

Since the 2014 general elections, in which the Congress was routed, the BJP’s expansion has happened at the cost of the former. Over the past three years, the BJP has defeated the Congress in its traditional bastions, Haryana, Maharashtra, Uttarakhand and Assam.

Also Read: Constant CM: De-coding Nitish Kumar

The BJP has also played smart with alliances. In Maharashtra, the party has nurtured its alliance with an often-strident Shiv Sena, even as the Congress ended its alliance with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). Similarly in Jammu & Kashmir, while the Congress and the National Conference decided not to contest the polls together, the BJP formed an alliance with People’s Democratic Party and formed its first ever government in the state.

Now Bihar too joins this list with one of the Congress’ key allies switching sides.

There is a view in both the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and JDU that the Congress party did not do enough to fill the growing cracks between the two parties leading to Kumar’s decision to break away from the former. Significantly, Kumar on Wednesday evening spoke about having a conversation with Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi.

Also Read: Nitish Kumar takes oath as Bihar chief minister, Sushil Kumar Modi as deputy CM

Kumar said he was doing this because he was listening to his “inner voice” and breaking away from the RJD whose leaders are embroiled in controversy over benaami (proxy) properties. A Congress leaders said he was ignoring the mandate of the people of Bihar. ‘They didn’t vote the grand alliance to power for this,” added this person, who asked not to be identified.

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