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‘BJP to Take the Helm in Bihar, Not Nitish’: Modi-Shah’s Enduring Aspiration

India'BJP to Take the Helm in Bihar, Not Nitish': Modi-Shah's Enduring Aspiration

On Sunday, Nitish Kumar, having switched political partners, retained the chief minister’s position but now faces a more assertive BJP with the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah duo aiming to “conquer” Bihar, according to sources.

While the immediate goal is to weaken the Opposition bloc INDIA by aligning with Nitish, Modi and Shah have a long-term vision of gaining complete control over the crucial heartland state, as suggested by insiders within the BJP.

The top leadership’s decision to realign with Nitish, despite resistance from the Bihar party, is seen as a “stoop-to-conquer” strategy. The assertion is clear: “This time Bihar will be run by the BJP and not Nitish.”

However, Modi and Shah are not expected to disturb Nitish before the Lok Sabha polls. Instead, they aim to maximize their Lok Sabha tally from Bihar.

As part of the arrangement, the BJP plans to contest a higher number of seats compared to the Janata Dal United (JDU). In the 2019 elections, both parties contested 17 seats each, leaving the remaining 6 seats to the Lok Janshakti Party.

“This time we want to contest around 20 and leave only 14-15 seats for the JDU,” stated a BJP leader.

Post the general election, the BJP is likely to focus on consolidating its base in Bihar, aiming to challenge Nitish’s position. With Nitish nearing the end of his political career and lacking a strong successor, BJP strategists believe the task can be accomplished with minimal resistance.

The JDU has already faced significant reduction, holding only 44 MLAs in the 243-member Assembly, down from its peak of 115 in 2010, while the BJP has 78 MLAs.

If the NDA wins the Bihar Assembly polls next year with the BJP securing more seats than the JDU, the saffron party is expected to claim the chief minister’s chair.

“Nitish can be given an honorable exit with a post-retirement job at the Centre after 2025,” suggested a BJP leader.

The BJP’s strategy to curtail Nitish’s influence is evident in the selection of the party’s two deputy chief ministers, particularly Samrat Choudhary. Choudhary, a vocal critic of Nitish, belongs to the OBC Kushwaha/Koiri caste, intending to target Nitish’s support base.

Choudhary, who previously vowed to discard his safa headgear only after dethroning Nitish, took the oath on Sunday. Nitish had expressed a preference for Sushil Kumar Modi as his deputy, but the BJP ignored the request.

Vijay Sinha, an upper-caste politician, was chosen as the other deputy chief minister. Both Choudhary and Sinha represent a new generation of aggressive politicians for the BJP.

Additionally, the Modi government’s move to award the Bharat Ratna to socialist icon Karpoori Thakur, seen as a reason for Nitish’s renewed alliance with the NDA, is interpreted as a BJP attempt to erode the JDU’s non-Yadav OBC base.

The BJP’s overarching ambition seems to be transforming Bihar into a bipolar state, pitting the BJP against the RJD, and absorbing Nitish’s leaders and voters into their fold.

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