All Is Not Well In Bihar BJP And It Could Impact Its Alliance With JDU

Abhishek Kumar

Jun 30, 2024, 11:50 AM | Updated 11:50 AM IST

Representative Image
Representative Image
  • Bihar BJP faces factionalism and disappointment amid JD(U) alliance, revealing internal fault lines.
  • With the traction that Nitish Kumar is getting in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), it was certain that factional tussle inside Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would come up to the surface. But it arrived earlier than expected.

    On 26 June 2024, Sanjay Paswan, senior BJP leader and former member of legislative council said that the BJP is still dependent on Nitish Kumar in Bihar. He even went on to claim that if not for the alliance with Nitish Kumar, the BJP would not have gotten even a single seat in Bihar in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

    Paswan reasons that currently there are only two mass leaders in Bihar politics — Nitish Kumar and Tejashwi Yadav. He asserts that different voting blocs (castes) join either of the two and that is why national-level parties benefit from them, rather than the other way around.

    Paswan added that Prashant Kishor has opened a third front, which is secretly spreading its wings in the state. Citing feedback from workers, he said that those who earlier campaigned for BJP or Janata Dal (United) (JD(U)) are drifting towards Kishore’s Jan Suraaj Party.

    On his party’s state leadership, Paswan says that it acts in a juvenile and lethargic fashion. He termed leadership as an ignorant and ineffective communicator and said that Samrat Choudhary is not approachable to party cadres and the public.

    According to Paswan, BJP is thankful to Nitish Kumar for its existence in the state but it is now time to look beyond him. He believes that BJP can stand on its own if it replaces Samrat Choudhary with Ashwini Choubey, a former member of Parliament (MP) from Buxar as state President.

    On the other hand, Choubey also released statements BJP may not fully subscribe to. Talking to BJP workers in Bhagalpur, Choubey said that BJP should be the leader of NDA in the 2025 assembly election (AE) in the state. He wants the BJP to gain a majority of its own in the elections.

    Choubey added that getting majority on its own does not mean ditching Nitish Kumar. However, he does not seem to support contesting the assembly elections in Bihar with Nitish Kumar as the chief ministerial candidate of the alliance.

    On prospective faces, he said that it will only be decided after the election. He pitched for someone who has gained prominence inside the organisation to be chosen as a titular figure, both in government as well as inside the party.

    Choubey invoked tall leaders like Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Deen Dayal Upadhyay to assert that people like them built the party's structure and it should not be compromised by choosing those who did not toil hard in organisation, as district or state President.

    Choubey’s preference for an insider is considered an oblique reference to sitting state BJP president and Deputy Chief Minister Samrat Choudhary.

    Despite poorer than expected performance in 2024 GE, Choudhary is still one of the top contenders for CM face from BJP.

    Choudhary left Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) in 2017 to join BJP. Due to flip-flops by Nitish Kumar, the party was looking for a credible other backward class (OBC) face to replace Kumar in case things went haywire. This is the primary reason why he was given the post of deputy chief minister in the latest NDA cabinet in Bihar.

    Choudhary’s elevation was not liked by established party leaders who rose in ranks by working as cadres. But, the Nitish-Samrat duo at the top was necessary to consolidate Extremely Backward Class (EBC) and OBC votes in Bihar. Kumar has hold over both EBC and OBC while Choudhary is primarily an OBC face.

    For Scheduled Caste (SC) votes, the party relied on its alliance with Chirag Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas) (LJP(RV)). The strategy helped BJP avoid the disaster seen in Uttar Pradesh, where. analysts say it could not consolidate EBC and SC vote-banks.

    However, election results were not satisfactory and the party lost key seats like Arrah, Buxar, Aurangabad and Patliputra. Additionally, the Koeri-Kurmi vote bank, the base of the Nitish-Samrat duo, also significantly drifted towards RJD.

    It has given an opportunity to leaders like Choubey to air their criticism. Reportedly, when Choubey aired his opinion, Choudhary was in a meeting with another Deputy Chief Minister Vijay Sinha, Health Minister Mangal Pandey and BJP’s Bihar in-charge Vinod Tawde.

    As Choubey’s statements gained traction, Nitish Kumar called Choudhary for an emergency meeting to which he obliged by rushing to the CM house, leaving a meeting with Tawde midway. Kumar is said to be unhappy with Choubey’s statement and Choudhary was called for clarification.

    Later, JD(U) spokesman Abhishek Jha dismissed Choubey’s statement and asserted that Choudhary is BJP state President and he has already declared Nitish Kumar as the face of the 2025 assembly elections.

    Despite the temporary reconciliation, the issue looks far from settled.

    These provocative statements surfaced ahead of the JD(U) national executive meeting, potentially prompting a spur-of-the-moment decision by Nitish Kumar, now known for his unexpected shifts in alliances to ensure his own survival.

    The drama has confirmed that BJP’s Bihar unit is not in good shape. Multiple leaders are gunning for leadership positions due to which factionalism is rampant. It was witnessed in the controversial ticket distribution in the state. The distribution only added to the cadre's disappointments which were already heightened due to the alliance with JD(U).

    Both Choubey and Paswan did not get to retain MP and MLC seats and hence could be dismissed as disgruntled members. However, it could prove disastrous for the party to not look at the fault lines they pointed out.

    Abhishek is Staff Writer at Swarajya.

    Get Swarajya in your inbox.