Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) on Saturday asserted that its decision to go solo in Uttar Pradesh assembly polls will have no adverse impact on its alliance with BJP.
JD(U) national president Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lalan pointed out that the party has fought elections in many states against the BJP but it has not affected the ruling coalition in Bihar.
“We decided to go it alone because attempts to form an alliance with BJP in UP did not bear fruit. Our party’s senior leader RCP Singh, who is a member of the union cabinet, had made efforts in that direction. But it is not an issue any more,” Lalan told reporters here upon return from the national capital.
Notably, RCP Singh, who had preceded Lalan as JD(U) chief, was a UP cadre IAS officer who became close to Nitish Kumar when the former was on central deputation and the latter was the railway minister.
When Mr Kumar became the Bihar CM, the bureaucrat joined him here as his principal secretary and served in that capacity until his formal entry into politics about a decade ago.
A native of Nalanda district and from the Kurmi caste like his political mentor, RCP Singh’s meteoric rise in the party is said to have riled old timers like Lalan, who has been a political aide of Kumar for nearly three decades.
Failure to strike a deal with BJP, despite meetings with Union Home Minister Amit Shah and party president JP Nadda is expected to dent the clout of the civil servant-turned-politician in JD(U).
Lalan, however, sought to make light of the development at a time when squabbling between BJP and JD(U) leaders in Bihar have led detractors like Chirag Paswan to predict the fall of the Nitish Kumar government and mid term polls.
“We have fought against BJP in states like Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland. We also won many seats. Our alliance in Bihar was not affected then”, he pointed out.
Interestingly, all but one JD(U) MLA had crossed over to BJP in Arunachal Pradesh in December, 2020 causing the party to lose the status of main opposition party in the north-eastern state where it had won seven seats in the 2019 assembly polls.
BJP and Nitish Kumar have been allies since the 1990s when the latter was associated with Samata Party which became JD(U) upon merger with a party of that name a decade later. The two parties have been sharing power in Bihar since 2005, except for the period 2013-17 when Kumar was out of the NDA.
However, the two parties have never contested together in other states even though JD(U) has been fielding candidates in BJP strongholds like Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand.
The two Bihar allies made an exception in early 2020 when they contested together to pose a challenge to the formidable Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi.