The BJP has lost many old allies in the last five years. Parties like TDP to Shiv Sena and Akali Dal left together. BJP did not care for him. But Nitish Kumar and his party have different meanings. Leaving with him will worry the BJP. Party leaders may not express this concern, but they know that Nitish is different from other old allies. The BJP has shared power with him for the longest time. From the Center to the Bihar government, BJP and JDU have been together for almost 20 years. Nitish is the leader of a state from where new political discourses are formed. BJP leaders will remember that the first voice for Narendra Modi was raised from Bihar itself. The loudest voice of both his support and opposition was in Bihar. So, the separation of JD(U) and Nitish Kumar before the third election of Narendra Modi will prove to be an event with far-reaching ramifications.
This political development has to be assessed from many aspects. One aspect is of Bihar’s 40 Lok Sabha seats. In the last election, the NDA had won 39 of these seats. The state’s largest party, RJD, could not get a single seat. BJP won 17 seats, JDU 16 and Lok Janshakti Party six. At first glance, it would appear that the NDA has lost 17 seats due to the separation of JDU and will suffer the same loss in the next elections. but it’s not like that. Had Nitish Kumar parted ways and walked alone like in 2013, the results may have been like in 2014, when Nitish’s JD(U) was reduced to a two-seat party and the BJP-led NDA won 32 seats. This time Nitish has not gone alone, but has gone with the RJD, so the results can be like the 2015 assembly elections, when despite all the efforts, the BJP could win only 54 seats out of 243 in the assembly. Think, it had 23 seats in the Lok Sabha and only 54 seats in the Assembly. The entire NDA had a total of 32 Lok Sabha seats and got only 59 seats in the Assembly. If RJD, JDU, Congress, Hum, VIP and Left parties stay together, it is possible that in 2024, the NDA may yearn to reach the doubles. Adding the votes of the seven-party alliance led by JDU, they had more than 54 per cent votes in the 2020 assembly elections and close to 49 per cent in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
The second dimension is its effect on other states adjoining Bihar or other states of Hindi belt. Nitish Kumar’s separation from the BJP will affect many states of eastern and northern India. Nitish has already started politics regarding Jharkhand adjoining Bihar. He has sent Jharkhand’s state president Khiru Mahto to the Rajya Sabha. It is true that Nitish does not have the same influence among the Mahto or Kurmi voters of Jharkhand. But if Nitish becomes the face of the opposition and the election is contested on his face in the next election, then there will be a big message in the Mahto vote of around 17-18 per cent of Jharkhand. JMM, Congress and RJD have a joint government in Jharkhand. If JDU joins with them then it can be like X factor. The BJP has 12 out of 14 seats in the state. It may lose its edge under the influence of Bihar politics. The BJP did very well in the last elections in two more states of eastern India – West Bengal and Odisha. But this time things would have changed. Mamta Banerjee has strengthened her position in the assembly elections held after the Lok Sabha. Having opposition government in three neighboring states- Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha will give them strength. The number of migrant Bihari voters in Bengal is also significant.
The third aspect is that of perception. Till now no one was visible compared to Narendra Modi. At least at the level of perception, this was inculcated in the minds of the people that there is no one comparable to Modi. The BJP on its part has made an imaginary contest by making Rahul Gandhi a contender. In reality, Rahul is not a contender. He is neither the president of the party, nor has he ever been a minister at the center, nor has he been a chief minister, yet the BJP has made him a contender. Through false news and videos, he has been established as a leader of low intelligence. In this way the BJP was fighting with a weak opponent till now. If Nitish Kumar comes to the contest, the perception will automatically change. He has been a minister at the Center for many years and has been the Chief Minister of Bihar for more than 15 years. He has experience in administration and he is also a leader doing politics 24 hours a day. So, with their arrival, the perception will automatically change. There is no alternative i.e. TINA factor will come to an end. Nitish is a leader of North India, has experience in administration and comes from a backward caste. That’s enough to make him a strong opponent.
Fourth, there is nothing to attack or characterize Nitish against him. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been criticizing the entire opposition as family and corrupt. From Rahul Gandhi to K Chandrashekhar Rao, Akhilesh Yadav, MK Stalin, HD Deve Gowda, Sharad Pawar, Lalu Prasad, Mamta Banerjee, all opposition leaders are said to be family and corrupt. But nothing similar can be said about Nitish Kumar. He is neither a familyist nor has there been any corruption charges against him. Despite being with the BJP from above, he has not allowed his image to be communal. If BJP makes any allegation against him, it will come back on him as it has been a power partner with him almost all the time. Only then will the BJP be worried about Nitish Kumar. If they do politics only in Bihar then BJP will not be worried but as soon as they become active in national politics, BJP’s troubles will increase. The election of 2024 will be difficult for him.