Mon. Jun 24th, 2024

Bihar mission achieved, the BJP now shifts its focus to Maharashtra

By HindiTechLancer Feb 2, 2024
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Amidst the familial ritual recently conducted in Mumbai, resonating with sacred chants, the priest invoked the proverb from the Ramayana, “Raghukul reet sada chali aayi, pran jaye par vachan na jaayi,” emphasizing the sanctity of keeping one’s word over one’s life. In an intriguing twist, the priest added, “In simpler terms, refrain from actions akin to those of Nitish Kumar.”

The incorporation of Nitish Kumar’s wavering stance, constituting the fifth shift in slightly over a decade, into religious discourse adds a certain gravitas. Initially hailed as Bihar’s “Sushasan babu (good governance leader),” Nitish Kumar was even considered a potential prime minister at one point, coinciding with Narendra Modi’s rise to prominence.

However, the present perception of him is far from being an exemplary figure, a stark transformation that should be disconcerting for him.

By rejoining the BJP, Nitish Kumar positions the saffron party favorably for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in Bihar. In 2019, the NDA, with Nitish on board, secured 39 out of 40 Lok Sabha seats, reaffirming their dominance. Although the 2020 Assembly polls were closely contested, the NDA emerged victorious before Nitish switched sides to form the Mahagathbandhan in 2022. His recent departure from the RJD and Congress signals a return to the NDA.

Interestingly, despite being the smallest of Bihar’s three major parties—alongside the RJD and BJP—Nitish’s alignment determines the ruling party in the state. The Nitish-BJP alliance aims to replicate the political synergy of upper castes, Kurmis, extremely backward classes, Mahadalits, and Pasmanda Muslims that propelled them to power in the 2010 Assembly elections.

However, while Nitish retains his position as CM, the JD(U)’s electoral standing has dwindled from 115 seats in 2010 to 43 in 2020, showcasing a decline in public support.

Nitish’s strategic return aligns with the political calculus that may allow him to continue as CM until the 2025 Assembly elections, avoiding potential challenges following a BJP victory in the 2024 general elections. However, beyond 2025, an ascendant BJP is unlikely to endorse another term for Nitish as CM.

In the current political landscape where PM Modi’s popularity remains unwavering, Nitish’s return fortifies the BJP’s prospects in both the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections next year. This solidifies their political and caste-based foundation, concurrently diminishing Nitish’s influence and appeal.

For the BJP, Nitish’s departure is not only advantageous in Bihar but also impacts the INDIA alliance, considering Nitish played a pivotal role in its formation. Additionally, the BJP leadership appears to be systematically restructuring the NDA, aiming for a two-thirds majority in Parliament to advance their legislative and constitutional agenda.

With an eye on their electoral goals, Bihar secured, the BJP is now directing its attention to Maharashtra, the country’s second-largest state in terms of Lok Sabha seats (48). Despite having a government in Mumbai after severing ties with the Shiv Sena and aligning with a faction of the NCP, the BJP faces challenges.

The BJP’s aspiration for 40-plus seats in Maharashtra is contingent on factors like the diminishing sympathy for Uddhav Thackeray and Sharad Pawar following the party’s maneuvering to split their factions. However, the internal power struggle within the BJP-led government in Mumbai, involving CM Eknath Shinde, Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis, and newcomer Ajit Pawar, adds complexity.

The recent resolution of the Maratha quota agitation, coupled with Shinde’s strengthened position, presents a formidable challenge for the BJP to remove him as CM, should his Shiv Sena garner sufficient support in the upcoming Assembly polls. This power dynamic complicates the positions of both Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar, potential contenders for the chief ministership.

Moreover, the OBC agitation concerning the quota for Marathas poses a concern for the BJP, whose political strategy in the state traditionally revolves around OBCs, especially at a time when OBC issues gain prominence in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections.

While the Opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi has not disclosed its strategy, the BJP grapples with the complex dynamics within its government and the ongoing political developments. Sharad Pawar, a key political player, could potentially reshape the MVA alliance, excluding the Congress and aligning with the Uddhav Shiv Sena, his NCP faction, and Prakash Ambedkar’s Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi.

This prospective realignment could create a triangular contest, benefitting both Pawar and the BJP. The political landscape in Maharashtra is thus pregnant with possibilities, adding suspense to discussions in Mumbai about the BJP’s seat tally in 2024 and contemplating Modi’s actions in his third stint in power.

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