INAUSPICIOUS START
India Today|April 12, 2021
When the BJP won 74 of the 110 seats it conte­ sted in the November 2020 election for the 243­member Bihar assembly, just one less than the Rashtriya Janata Dal’s 75 (of 144 con­ tested) and well ahead of alliance part­ ner Janata Dal (United)’s 43 (of 115 seats), it achieved two things: become the principal opposition to the RJD in Bihar, and the dominant partner in the National Democratic Alliance.
Amitabh Srivastava

In view of the verdict, JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar refused to stake claim to the chief minister’s post, offering it instead to the BJP. The saffron leader­ ship, however, persuaded him to con­tinue as chief minister as it set about the task of consolidating its gains.

Among the first things the party did was to replace in one stroke its entire top leadership with new and untested leaders. Sushil Kumar Modi, the deputy chief minister in the previous govern­ment, was shunted to the Rajya Sabha. Two of the other seniormost lead­ ers—Nand Kishore Yadav and Prem Kumar—who have been elected to the House for the seventh and eighth time respectively, were made chairmen of assembly committees, effectively ending their prospects of joining the Nitish cabinet. Kumar, incidentally, was for long the BJP’s most visible EBC (Extremely Backward Class) face, and was one of the few undeclared chief ministerial faces when the party unsuccessfully contested the 2015 assembly poll.

What explains the BJP’s move? In the beginning, it seemed like just an attempt by the party to shed its secular face and follow a more hardline stance. Over the years, both Yadav and Kumar had come to represent the more moder­ ate face of the BJP in Bihar. However, a section of the party leadership believes they may have been jettisoned due to their good relations with Nitish. “Perhaps the leadership wants to pro­ mote one­track leaders, not those who would not consider hurting an alliance partner,” says a BJP leader.

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