Nitish must resign as NDA leader before trust vote

Smarting under an acrimonious split, the Bharatiya Janata Party on Sunday called for a Bihar bandh on June 18, day before Chief Minister Nitish Kumar faces a floor test in the State Assembly. It also called upon Mr. Kumar to resign and get re-elected as the leader of the party before the vote of confidence.

“Today is a black day in Bihar’s politics. The JD (U) betrayed a 17-year-old alliance. The people of Bihar gave heavy majority to the National Democratic Alliance, which the JD (U) axed in one stroke. What happened is unfortunate and the people of Bihar will avenge this insult of their mandate,” Bihar Deputy Chief Minister and BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi told a press conference here.

He said June 18 would be observed as “a day of betrayal” when the BJP would protest against the JD (U) for duping the people of Bihar.

The BJP leader said the opposition to Narendra Modi was the result of fear of backward caste assertion. “There are some who fear that for a first time an individual is emerging who is not from dynastic politics, who hails from a humble background and is from the backward class.”

Politics of convenience

The JD (U) played “politics of convenience” with the BJP. “How can you say one is communal, but the other is secular? Those termed communal today will be deemed secular tomorrow. The Left too formed a government with us. So for the sake of convenience we are secular and when our use is over we become communal. There has been no riot in Gujarat for the last ten years, whereas Congress-ruled States have seen several riots,” Mr. Sushil Kumar Modi said.

“The Lok Sabha poll is one year away. No party has declared its candidate. Plus, the JD (U) itself said Mr. Narendra Modi’s elevation was an internal matter. Then what happened in the part five days that this coalition was broken? No party has the right to dictate terms to the other,” he said.

“The BJP wants to focus all its energies on the coming Lok Sabha elections and has no intention of staking claim to power. We are not demanding a fresh mandate. We don’t want an election just two and a half years into this term. Moreover, with 91 MLAs we don’t have the numerical strength,” he said.

On skipping the Cabinet meeting, Mr. Sushil Modi said there was no point in attending it when the survival of the ruling government itself was under question and the Chief Minister himself was talking in riddles.

He said the BJP “stayed loyal to the coalition dharma” and helped the government make crucial decisions. The BJP expected Mr. Kumar, who was chosen as the NDA leader, to resign and get elected as the chosen leader of JD (U) before forming a government.

Supporters of both parties celebrated the decision by bursting crackers and staging support marches in the city. They raised slogans hailing Mr. Nitish Kumar and Mr. Narendra Modi.

It’s for votes: Lalu

Meanwhile, Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad called the JD (U)’s move “politics of opportunism.” He said Mr. Kumar was eyeing the Muslim vote bank and intended to get back to the BJP fold after the polls. “His main agenda is to cheat the Muslim voters,” he said.

“The result of arrogance is the end of a political era. Both parties have deceived the people of Bihar. They came together to keep me out of power. They whipped up Lalu-phobia by maligning my reign as jungle raj,” Mr. Prasad said.