The Manipur defection is seen as an awkward setback as it was not expected before JD(U)’s national executive meeting in Patna that began Friday. It may not impede JD(U)’s hope to position itself as a “national party” with Bihar CM Nitish Kumar at its centrepiece for a bigger role. But the latest development did cause embarrassment.
Reacting to five of its six lawmakers switching sides in Manipur, Nitish questioned the propriety and constitutionality of the alleged poaching by BJP: “Is it proper? Is it constitutional? Is it in line with established norms?” He called upon opposition political parties to unite against BJP in 2024 for a “positive” result.
He accused the BJP government in Manipur of not giving any post to the JD(U) MLAs when the party was with NDA in the northeastern state. “But now, they have taken our MLAs in their party. Just think about what kind of politics is going on. What type of behaviour is this?”
Nitish said the six party MLAs had come to Patna a day after winning the Manipur election in March this year. “They again came this month soon after we quit NDA and formed the new government with the grand alliance. All six MLAs supported our decision. … Just see how the BJP is ‘attracting’ MLAs of other parties towards it,” he said.
JD(U) national president Rajiv Ranjan Singh aka Lalan Singh alleged that BJP’s “game” in Manipur followed the plotline it used before in Delhi, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.
“Whatever tricks and games the BJP may play, it will not be able to stop the JD(U) from becoming a national party by 2023,” he said. Currently, the JD(U) is recognised as a ‘state party’ in Bihar, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur. If it secures 6% of polled votes in one more state, it would be recognised as a ‘national party’ by the Election Commission.
JD(U) hopes to secure more than 6% votes in the Nagaland elections due in early 2023.