BJP divided over CM face in Bihar

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Kumar Anshuman, ET Bureau|Sep 16, 2019, 07.55 AM IST0Comments
A section of leaders in the BJP in Bihar feels that after the success in the Lok Sabha elections, it is now or never for the party to take the leadership role in the ruling alliance with Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (U).

A war of words over the issue, going on for a week now, has also brought to the fore the internal rivalry in the Bihar BJP. It all started with state BJP leader and former Union minister Sanjay Paswan making a remark on September 9. He said Nitish Kumar had ruled Bihar for 15 years and now he should move to the Centre and the BJP should get the CM’s post. A number of JDU leaders reacted to the statement, dismissing any suggestion on a change. Three days before he made the comment, a poster had come up outside the JDU office, saying “Kyo kare vichar, theek to hai Nitish Kumar (Why think when Nitish Kumar is serving well)”.

While BJP initially refrained from commenting over the development, a tweet from deputy chief minister and BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi in support of Nitish Kumar, and the response of a few state leaders indicated that there were squabbles in the party over the issue.

“@NitishKumar is the Captain of NDA in Bihar & will remain its Captain in next assembly elections in 2020 also. When Captain is hitting 4 & 6 & defeating rivals by inning where is the Q of any change (sic),” Modi tweeted on Wednesday.

This open support to Nitish Kumar created a furore within the BJP, and leaders like CP Thakur, state minister Prem Kumar and MLA Mithilesh Tiwari termed this as Modi’s personal opinion.

The tweet disappeared from Modi’s timeline for some time but is back again. While rumours floated that he had to delete it, his supporters blamed a technical issue. “He started his tweet with tagging Nitish Kumar and the tweet went into the reply section,” said a BJP leader. “He stands by his statement.”