Patna: Recent communal strife in Bihar and Nitish Kumar’s criticism of alliance partner has also exposed fissures within Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state unit as leaders sharing the government openly contradicted those running the party’s organisation.
Senior BJP leader and Deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi tried to trump state unit President Nityanand Rai and union minister Giriraj Singh when he said beheading incident in Darbhanga was fall out of a land dispute and had nothing to do with naming an intersection as ‘Modi Chawk.’
Initially, it was three Vs three. Sushil Modi got the support from other two cabinet colleagues and BJP leaders Mangal Pandey and Nand Kishore Yadav. On the other side was the trio of state unit chief Nityanand Rai and Union ministers Giriraj Singh and Ashwini Chaube, who kept the heat on and almost for a week the party behaved like a divided house.
However, state BJP’s core committee meeting was convened on March 29 in which the party high command ensured that all party leaders speak in unison. The message was clear- party will continue to be aggressive on its ideology.
Nitish Kumar was unhappy when Nityanand Rai said that RJD’s victory would turn Araria into ISI den and later on, with Giriraj Singh who made alleged chanting of anti-national slogans a political issue. Soon, Sushil Modi and other leaders distanced themselves while others openly supported their state unit chief.
Sushil Modi has been close to Nitish even when the later broke the alliance in 2013 and joined hands with Lalu Prasad Yadav. After Nitish’s return to NDA fold, Sushil Modi many a times revealed the secret saying ‘Dal alag ho gaye the, Dil mila hua tha’ (Parties parted ways, not our hearts).
Many BJP leaders admit that it was Nitish Kumar himself who insisted on making Sushil Modi as his deputy which did not go down well among many state unit leaders. Even selection of the cabinet colleagues from BJP became a tough task. However, Sushil Modi managed to bring his loyalists in the government.
But messages from BJP president Amit Shah and Bihar in-charge Bhupendra Yadav were clear to the state unit – satta nahi sangathan jaroori hai (it is always the party over government). Nityanand Rai was assured of full support from the party high command. He swung into action and is right now finalising the strategies for mission 2019. His goal is to reach out to every booth. He is on an ambitious mission to spend a night in every assembly constituency by March 2019.
One of his close associates told News18, “Despite Nityanand ji being state president, Sushil Modi was used to hold party meetings and lead the organisational meetings. But this has stopped now. Nityanand ji has clearly taken over. Earlier, Sushil Modi was used to be the last speaker in the party meetings but you can see the change now as Nityanand ji has replaced him.”
Among union ministers, Giriraj Singh, RK Singh, Ashwini Chaube and Ram Kripal Yadav have been in the support of Nityanand Rai. Union power minister RK Singh had openly slammed Sushil Modi for the way tickets were distributed in 2015 assembly election. He kept calling him ‘ticket ka saudagar’ well after the result was out in which BJP suffered a massive jolt. Many within the party were surprised when Prime Minister Narendra Modi chose him for the ministerial berth.
Nityanand Rai is a trusted man of Bhupendra Yadav as the party sees in him a young energetic leader from Yadav clan who can take Lalu yadav and his successor Tejaswhi head on in the electoral field. Moreover, he believes in fighting the political battle at the grass root level which is not the case with Sushil Modi.
But it’s not an easy task for Nityanand. One of the office bearers told News18, “Many of the district presidents were elected when Mangal Pandey was state unit chief. Now Nityanand Rai has to deal with them till next year.”