A Meeting Between Nitish Kumar And His Old Friend Has Caused Stir In Jharkhand Politics

Abhishek Kumar

Jun 28, 2024, 02:57 PM | Updated 03:23 PM IST

Nitish Kumar and Saryu Roy
Nitish Kumar and Saryu Roy

On 26 June, Nitish Kumar held a meeting with one of his oldest friends Saryu Roy. Both Roy and Kumar are believed to be college friends.

Despite fighting against the emergency together, both took different political routes. Nitish Kumar went with those who built their political base around the slogan of socialism while Saryu Roy aligned with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), owing to his alignment with Sangh.

Roy is credited with sending two former chief ministers to jail. In undivided Bihar, he was the one who exposed the Fodder Scam, leading to Lalu Yadav’s resignation and ultimately political exile after conviction. In Jharkhand, he played a key role in pointing out irregularities in coal allocation during the Madhu Koda government.

Roy is considered a defiant figure in politics. In the 2014 Jharkhand assembly elections (AE), he won from the Jamshedpur West seat and became the minister for food supply. Very soon he developed differences with Chief Minister Raghubar Das and stopped attending cabinet meetings.

In the five-year-long stint of Raghubar Das, Roy did not miss an opportunity to criticise Das and even his own party’s stands on various issues. It was a matter of time before political enmity turned into a personal one and Roy was denied a ticket in 2019, allegedly due to Das’s insistence.

After a long wait for a ticket, Roy himself asked the party to not give him a ticket and decided to contest on his own. Not just the symbol, he even changed his constituency from Jamshedpur West to Jamshedpur East — Raghubar Das’ constituency. Roy went on to beat Das by 15833 votes.

Under Das, the BJP lost the election too and Roy’s rebel act made a permanent imprint on party leadership and cadre.

A big opportunity arose for Roy in the 2024 general elections (GE). Nitish Kumar wanted the Dhanbad seat from the BJP in GE. The idea was to welcome Roy into Janata Dal (United) (JD(U)) and field him from there. However, before the election, Nitish Kumar did not have the clout to push hard on BJP for ticket distribution. Ultimately the seat went to Dulu Mehto of BJP, who won by more than 3.31 lakh votes.

Things have changed after the election. JD(U) is one of the key pillars of the NDA government at the centre. In Jharkhand, the party has suffered a debacle on tribal seats while its OBC vote bank may not wholeheartedly support it due to the rise of Jairam Mahato.

For Nitish Kumar and Saryu Roy, a weakened BJP offers JD(U) an opportunity to demand any of the Jamshedpur seats (preferably Jamshedpur East) and from there it can field Saryu Roy as its own candidate. In this way, it will be a win-win for NDA, JD(U) and Saryu Roy.

The only problem is, what if the BJP needs Raghubar Das in the 2024 assembly elections? Although he will come when the BJP needs him, courting Nitish Kumar is also a necessity for BJP. 

Abhishek is Staff Writer at Swarajya.

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