Nitish's Lav-Kush politics faces challenge from BJP's Kushwaha outreach

Patna, Feb 4 (IANS) Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar formed the new government with the help of BJP and Hindustani Awam Morcha Secular (HAMS), but challenges are mounting for him as his new allies have stepped up their pressure.

An instance of what lies in store for Nitish became evident on Saturday when BJP's Samrat Choudhary, Deputy Chief Minister, set out to woo the Koiri (Kushwaha) community in Biharsharif on the birth anniversary of backward caste leader, Jagdev Prasad.

Choudhary said that no one would touch the people of the Kushwaha community as long as he was standing with them. He said he was "prepared to lose his last drop of blood to protect the community's interests". He also said that Koiri Raj would come to Bihar.

Nitish Kumar, who is known for the politics of Lav-Kush in Bihar where Lav belongs to Kurmi and Kush stands for Kushwaha.

With this statement, Samrat Choudhary has given a loud and clear message to Nitish Kumar that BJP is going to intrude into the vote bank of Kushwaha community, which has 4.21 per cent population in the state as per the caste-based survey report published by the Bihar government. The Kurmi community constitutes 2.87 per cent population in Bihar.

When analyzing the Lok Sabha and Assembly election of Bihar since 2014, it is found that Nitish Kumar led JD(U) has a vote share of above 15 per cent in the state. The BJP has a higher percentage of vote share but it has not crossed the 30 per cent mark even in the 2014 Modi wave. JD(U) had 15 to 22 per cent vote share in these elections.

The statement of Samrat Choudhary has given an indication that BJP might penetrate the vote share of Nitish Kumar.

BJP had given its post of state president to Samrat Choudhary last year with the clear message to intrude into the vote bank of Kushwaha community and when the situation arose here to form the government in Bihar, the saffron party gave the important post of deputy chief minister to him only. The idea was to give a message to the Kushwaha community that Nitish Kumar is no longer the leader of it.

The Nitish Kumar government was formed in Bihar on January 28 this year with the help of 78 MLAs of BJP, 45 MLAs of JD(U), four of HAMS and one independent which totals 128 MLAs in Bihar Vidhan Sabha. The majic figure in Rajasthan Assembly to form a government is 122 MLAs.

Here, HAMS led by former Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi is in the position of kingmaker in this government. He got the offer from RJD for the post of CM of Bihar keeping in view that those four MLAs may turn crucial to destabilise the NDA government.

The plus point of HAMS is that three out of four MLAs are the family members of Jitan Ram Manjhi and hence there is no chance to split the party.

At present, the NDA government is just six seats above from the magical figure of 122 and if four MLAs of HAMS and one independent withdraw support from the government, the Nitish Kumar government stands on the edge. In case one or two MLAs of JD(U) become absent during the vote of trust, the Nitish Kumar government would lose the majority.

This was the reason why Jitan Ram Manjhi was demanding two cabinet ministers in the NDA government but Nitish Kumar gave him one.

Jitan Ram Manjhi got the support of LJPR national president Chirag Paswan.

“There is no doubt that the number of MLAs of Jitan Ram Manjhi’s party is lower but they have huge importance in the current situation and if he has discussed within the alliance, he should give adequate respect in this government,” Paswan said.

Mukesh Sahani, the national president of VIP also advocated for the appropriate respect to Jitan Ram Manjhi.

“Jitan Ram Manjhi should become the chief minister of Bihar. Why the leader of an extremely backward caste or Dalit would not become the chief minister of Bihar,” Sahani asked.

VIP may not have any MLA or MP in the party but its leader Mukesh Sahani established himself as a leader of Nishad community. His party had won four seats in the 2020 Assembly election and three of them later merged into BJP and one passed away.

Former Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav’s statement of "Khel To Abhi Baki Hai" may not be all that rhetoric and just portrays the political quagmire in the state


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