Ceding Ground in Delhi for Smooth Landing in Bihar: Explaining BJP's Generosity Towards Nitish & Paswan


The Bharatiya Janata Party has sought to firm up its alliance for the Bihar assembly polls scheduled later this year by accommodating two of its allies from the heartland state in its Delhi election plans.

The BJP, which is the main challenger to Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party in the national capital, has left two seats for Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) and one for Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party. The JD(U) will contest from Sangam Vihar and Burari while the Seemapuri seat has been left for the LJP.

Both the regional parties had fielded candidates against the BJP in the Jharkhand assembly polls last year. There were also reports of the JD(U) extending help to BJP rebel candidate Saryu Roy who went on to defeat chief minister Raghubar Das in Jamshedpur.

In Jharkhand, the BJP also failed to firm up its alliance with its regional ally All Jharkhand Students Union, leading to a division of anti-Jharkhand Mukti Morcha votes. This was cited as one of the reasons for the BJP’s poor performance in the tribal-dominated state.

Some BJP allies have also been complaining of getting a short shrift from the NDA leader – both in states and the Centre. The saffron party under Narendra Modi has won clear majority in the 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha polls, thus reducing its dependence on allies in running the government.

Shiv Sena, the oldest BJP ally, has already left the NDA to join hands with the NCP and Congress in Maharashtra. Ties with the Shiromani Akali Dal have been strained over RSS’s attempts to expand Rashtriya Sikh Sangat – an affiliate formed to reach out to the Sikh community.

These moves have not gone down well with the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee or SGPC, which coordinates with and is responsible for management of gurdwaras in the country. SAD feels RSS activities are impinging on SGPC activities that are inextricably entwined to the state’s polity.

Both Akali Dal and BJP’s Haryana ally Jannayak Janta Party have backed out of the Delhi polls. One constituency for which SAD had earlier staked claim, Harinagar, has been handed over to the BJP’s Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga. But elections in Punjab are some time away. And SAD, not BJP, has more at stake here.

However, the saffron party is taking no chances ahead of the Bihar polls. Having lost the JD(U) and consequently the elections to Lalu Prasad in 2015, it is extra cautious this time around. Nitish Kumar, on more than one occasion, has been announced as the NDA’s chief ministerial candidate.

Nitish had pulled a hard bargain ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections to extract a few seats more for his party. As a mark of protest against disproportionate allocation of ministerial berths, his party did not join the Modi government.

The BJP, on the other hand, seems to be going the extra mile to accommodate Nitish Kumar and Paswan. Both in Bihar, and elsewhere.