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Bihar: More Than Nitish, Tejashwi Seems ‘Aggressive and Confident’ in Stopping Modi’s Juggernaut

JD-U leaders say the Chief Minister is waiting for the Opposition meet in Patna on June 23, after which he will formally launch an all-out campaign against BJP.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar with Deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav. Image Courtesy: PTI

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar with Deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav. Image Courtesy: PTI

Patna: Tejashwi Yadav, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader and Bihar Deputy Chief Minister, appears more aggressive and confident than Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to stop Prime Minister Narendra Modi's juggernaut in 2024. This is clear if Yadav's body language and statements in the past few days are any indication.

Upbeat over an Opposition meeting scheduled to be held in Patna on June 23 to forge strong opposition unity to challenge the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led by Modi in the next Lok Sabha elections, Yadav used his father and RJD chief Lalu Prasad's name to send a political message that a “united opposition will defeat Modi.”

Two days ahead of Lalu Prasad’s 76th birthday, Yadav claimed on Thursday that his father, as the chief minister of Bihar in 1990, stopped BJP leader L K Advani’s Rathyatra and arrested him. Similarly, the Opposition led by Kumar will stop Modi's ‘rath’ in 2024. Yadav may not be a seasoned politician like Kumar, but he understands the ground reality to recall stories and connect with people, say political observers.

Satyanarayan Madan, a political watcher, said Lalu Prasad is still popular and has been known for a consistent stand against BJP since the early 90s till date. By using the name of Kumar to stop the ‘Modi Juggernaut’, Tejashwi Yadav has tried to address his social support base to defeat the saffron party.

"Tejashwi's stake is high, and he is more concerned about stopping BJP from repeating the 2019 performance when it won 39 of 40 Lok Sabha seats. Kumar's name will connect his social support base with the ruling Mahagathbandhan led by RJD, which is bound to harm BJP in elections,” Madan told NewsClick.

Another political watcher said the fear of Lalu Prasad “continues to haunt” BJP leaders in the state. “They know that Lalu can create trouble by uniting like-minded parties on one platform against the saffron party. This is a serious political threat. Lalu's credibility to fight BJP is 100%, unlike the others. He has never compromised and joined hands with BJP. Considering this, Tejashwi recalled Lalu's action against the then powerful and popular Advani to highlight the point to defeat BJP,” he told NewsClick.

Of late, Tejashwi Yadav has been quite vocal in repeatedly attacking BJP. Two days ago, he said: "BJP is scared of the united opposition, and the saffron party is set to be defeated in Assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and other states after being defeated in Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka.”

Unlike Yadav, Kumar has been tirelessly engaging with national and regional party leaders as part of his strengthening "opposition unity" for the past few months. He has been targeting BJP but in a non-aggressive manner. Kumar, de facto chief of the Janata Dal (United) (JD-U), known for his calculated words, is yet to directly take on Modi, BJP or the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). So far, he has been making remarks, but without naming them.

According to JD-U leaders close to Kumar, after the Opposition meeting in Patna, Kumar is likely to be named convenor of the united opposition, and then he will launch his formal campaign against BJP.

Interestingly, the saffron party leaders have launched a direct attack against Kumar in the state for his move to unite the Opposition to challenge Modi. State BJP leaders have been asked to expose and target Kumar without a miss, said sources.

However, some BJP leaders who have been targeting Kumar, who was their ally till August 9, 2022, and are blaming him for everything, including poor governance and law and order in the state, joblessness, and backwardness, appear to have forgotten that they were part of the Kumar-led government in Bihar from 2005 to August 2022, except between 2015 to July 2017.

Since last September, after Kumar dumped BJP, forged a Mahagathbandhan, and formed the government, he has repeatedly urged all Opposition parties to fight together in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Amit Shah has visited Bihar four to five times as a part of BJP’s ‘Mission 2024’ campaign for the next Lok Sabha polls to overcome the big blow served by Kumar. Shah claimed the party would win all 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar. This month again, Shah is likely to visit the state and Modi may also address a public meeting during their month-long ongoing campaign to reach out to people in preparation for next year's polls.

The BJP's top leadership, including Modi and Shah, are reportedly worried about facing the next elections alone in Bihar because the party has been left with only one ally in the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) of Union Minister Pasupati Kumar Paras, which has no MLA in the Assembly and is considered a spent force.

The ruling JD-U and RJD leaders, however, downplayed Shah’s visit, saying it would no longer have any impact due to people's growing anger against BJP’s “anti-people” policies. As of now, the ruling Mahagathbandhan is confident of its large social support base.

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