In 2015 Bihar assembly election, when BJP-led NDA minus JD(U) took on the Grand Alliance (GA) at the peak of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity, low profile Rajendra Singh, then the party’s organisation in-charge of Jharkhand, was tipped for the chief ministerial post in the BJP. He was being equated with Haryana’s Manohar Lal Khattar, who became CM as a surprise choice.
Singh fought his debut election from Dinara seat in Rohtas district and with a fleet of cars of the who’s who from Jharkhand and Bihar present at his high-profile nomination; his victory from the safe seat was being considered a foregone conclusion. But Singh, known for his organizational skills and 37 years of experience in the RSS, lost in the BJP bastion by 2,691 votes in a close fight. It was a powerful jolt to the Narendra Modi-led coalition in Bihar.
Cut to 2020, on Friday, he was upset after he was denied a ticket from the seat, given as part of the seat-sharing formula to Janata Dal United JD(U)’s Jai Kumar Singh, a minister in the Nitish cabinet. It was Jai Kumar Singh, who had defeated Rajendra Singh by the narrow margin in 2015.
However, within minutes, Rajendra Singh moved to Chirag Paswan’s LJP, which swears by the name of PM Narendra Modi despite quitting NDA, to make it a triangular contest with JD(U) and the GA on the seat. Singh’s move could very well upset the calculations of the JD(U), making it an uphill task for Jai Kumar Singh to retain the seat. LJP wasted no time in allotting the party symbol to Singh, who will file his nomination on Wednesday.
Another senior BJP leader Ramnaresh Chaurasia, denied ticket, has also switched over to the LJP.
“After my high school in 1983, I have been associated with the RSS and my ideology remains the same, but I was left with no choice. Why I was denied the seat is for the BJP to answer. I have bowed to the wishes of Dinara people, for whom I have worked for the last five years despite my narrow loss. I want to work for Dinara’s issues,” said Rajendra Singh, adding there was no reason for him to change his approach after deciding to contest as a LJP candidate.
“I have no bitterness with anyone. I have remained a small worker of the RSS. I will still talk of Ram Mandir, Kashmir, CAA-NRC etc. I have respect for Ram Vilas Paswan also. My conscience is clear that I have to work for Dinara. The farmers still don’t get the right price for their paddy here,” he said, making it clear that he would remain a RSS cadre at heart and a LJP candidate for practical reasons.
On ground, this could only confound the situation, with many more BJP leftovers tipped to move over, making LJP virtually the ‘B’ team of the BJP.
This one example is enough to explain the utility of LJP in Bihar election this time despite Bihar BJP leaders claiming that the NDA would win three-fourth majority under the leadership of Nitish Kumar, who also reaffirmed the alliance by saying, “we (NDA) are working together and we will continue to work together. There is no confusion”.
Senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi even went to the extent of saying that if required, the NDA would also approach the election commission (EC) to restrain any party other than the NDA constituents from using PM Modi’s picture for campaigning.
LJP, however, rejected the contention, saying the PM did not belong to any particular political party, but was the leader of the country.
“Modi is a model of development for us. We view him as an ideology for a developed India. He symbolizes India. We will not use him, but will take his ideology to the people. We are fighting the election of Bihar’s pride, which the PM also wants. We cannot use the symbol of the BJP or any of their leaders,” said LJP spokesman Sanjay Singh.
Chirag also tweeted yet another attack on Nitish Kumar. “Soon after the formation of the new government, the ‘Seven Resolves’ programme will be probed and the guilty will be sent to jail. The pending funds would be promptly released for the completion of incomplete schemes,” he tweeted.