New Year challenge for NDA to resolve key issues in Bihar

In the New Year, all eyes will be on how the NDA government in Bihar puts up a united front in the face of growing perception about glaring differences on key issues of governance.

Though ruling allies BJP and JD-U claim “all is well”, the continued impasse over issues such as cabinet expansion, nomination of MLCs and other important appointments is sending contradictory signals and keeping the RJD-led opposition interested, which is citing defection of six JD(U) MLAs to BJP in Arunachal Pradesh recently as a sign of the internal rumblings in the alliance.

NDA leaders say both sides will have to resolve all outstanding issues. “Maybe, after January 14 (when the inauspicious Kharmas period ends), efforts will start in that direction,” said a senior JD-U leader, adding that Nitish Kumar handing over the party president’s post to Rajya Sabha MP RCP Singh was an indication that he would not like to be bogged down by political issues on a day-to-day basis any further and would instead focus on governance.

The BJP, on the other hand, seems to be in no hurry despite a truncated Nitish cabinet and the CM himself throwing the ball in the ally’s court when asked about expansion.

“The government has got going on the 7-Resolves – Part-2 without wasting any time. In a coalition, not much should be read into some delay. All issues will be resolved soon,” said JD-U spokesman Neeraj Kumar.

BJP spokesman Nikhil Anand said senior leaders of both the parties were in touch and everything would be resolved in course of time. “The opposition should stop day dreaming. There is no confusion in the NDA,” he added, without elaborating how quickly the outstanding issues will be resolved.

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Congress leader Premchandra Mishra said that the way the Nitish government was running in Bihar, nothing was left to be said. “Everyone is watching the growing fissures and how the BJP is trying to outsmart the JD-U on every front, while the governance suffers,” he said.

Cabinet expansion

Never in the past has Nitish Kumar continued with such a small cabinet, with one minister saddled with several key departments. The Opposition sees it as an indication of a weakened Nitish Kumar, while the CM has put the onus on the BJP. This is the first time BJP is the senior partner in the government.

Union Cabinet expansion

JD-U leaders say the Nitish Cabinet expansion cannot be seen in isolation. Along with it, several other key issues will also have to be resolved, including JD-U’s participation in the Union Cabinet, which has been due since 2019. It had brought the JD-U and the BJP face to face two years ago.

Nomination of MLCs

The nomination of 12 members to the Bihar Legislative Assembly has been hanging fire for over a year. With the BJP emerging a bigger party, it is reportedly staking claim to more seats, while last year it was the JD-U that had put its foot down over accommodation of LJP despite BJP’s insistence. Ashok Choudhary and Mukesh Sahni are ministers in the Nitish government but not members of any House.

Advocate General’s appointment

The appointment of Advocate General is said to be another bone of contention between the two allies. BJP, being the senior partner this time, wants it should have the say in the appointment to the key position, as it happened in the case of Speaker. At present, the AG with the previous government is continuing, but BJP leaders say a decision will soon be taken on it.

Boards and corporations

A large number of boards and corporations are without heads for a long time due to delay on the part of the ruling alliance partners in finalising names for posts. The same is the case with 20-point programme implementation committees at the block and district levels.

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