Future with BJP tenuous, JD-U does the math

Patna, April 16 (IANS) As speculation continues on the future of Bihar’s ruling alliance, Janata Dal-United (JD-U) leaders said Tuesday there was no threat to the Nitish Kumar government even if the BJP walked away.

A day after Bharatiya Janata Party leaders in the state said that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, widely perceived to the party’s prime ministerial candidate, could not be sacrificed for the sake of the alliance, JD-U leaders said they had the numbers to overcome any crisis.

“If BJP tomorrow withdraws its support and ends the 17-year alliance with the JD-U over Modi, the Nitish Kumar government will not fall. The JD-U has adequate numbers to run the government alone,” said a senior JD-U leader considered close to Nitish Kumar.

The tenuous equation between the two parties came under further strain when Nitish Kumar Sunday said in New Delhi that the party would not compromise on the issue of a secular leader for the country’s top job. He did not name Modi directly but the inference was only too clear and the battlelines became more clearly drawn.

According to a senior JD-U leader, the party needs the support of 122 legislators in a house of 243 to remain in power.

“The JD-U already has 118 legislators and most of the six independent legislators are supporting the party and will extend support to carry on the government led by Nitish Kumar,” he said.

The BJP has 91 legislators, the opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal 22, Congress four and the Lok Janshakti Party and the Communist Party of India one each.

Devesh Chandra Thakur, former minister and senior JD-U leader, said if somebody thought that the time was ripe for a do or die battle, then they too were ready for it.

JD-U spokesperson Neeraj Kumar said the party strongly believed in secular ideology and wanted to take along all castes and communities. If any party had a problem, he said, “we cannot help it”.

The BJP appears to be only too ready for the battle with its long time partner in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

A BJP minister in Nitish Kumar’s government, who met BJP national president Rajnath Singh in Delhi Monday, reportedly said that a pullout would be the fitting reply to Nitish Kumar in view of his attack against Modi.

The sentiment found ready echo.

“We will not accept such language and tolerate such politics,” Giriraj Singh, a hardcore champion of Hindutva in Bihar, told IANS over the phone.

Another BJP minister, Ashwani Kumar Choubey, said party workers and leaders were wholeheartedly with Modi. “There is no question of acceptability of BJP minus Modi,” Choubey said.

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