Ahead of Bihar polls, Sushil Modi rejects talk of rift with JDU

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As the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) begins preparations for the upcoming assembly elections in Bihar, deputy chief minister and senior party leader Sushil Modi has dismissed speculation that BJP and the Janata Dal (United), or JDU, will not seek re-election as allies.

Describing the alliance as “a reliable partnership,” Modi said the synergy between the Centre and the state government had created a successful model of governance in the state.

“Schemes at the Centre and at the state level have ensured that Bihar has seen development that eluded it for years. Villages have been electrified, water is being provided under har ghar jal (water in every household), power is being provided for agricultural purposes at low cost,” he saidin a phone interview.

Signs of discord between the allies surfaced on the issue of brining back migrant Bihar workers stranded outside the state during the nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic. As BJP leaders pushed for letting the workers travel back home, chief minister Nitish Kumar insisted on he Centre first framing guidelines for the return of migrant workers.

There have also been murmurs within the party that the state government’s response to the migrant worker and it inability to offer jobs will have an adverse impact on the electoral fortunes of the allies and that the BJP should consider fighting the Bihar elections on its own.

Modi said no dichotomy existed between the allies on the issue.

“Our CM said there have to be proper guidelines for bringing back migrants. And once the Centre came up with those; 20 lakh workers were brought back on trains, their fare was reimbursed; we set up quarantine centres, transferred money to their accounts, we gave free ration up to 10 kg. So where is the question of workers not having been looked after,” he said.

On Sunday former BJP president and Union home minister Amit Shah will address a virtual rally in the state, an indication that party has resumed political activity ahead of the elections to the 243-member assembly.

The JDU and B JP two parties will continue the alliance because it offers them a better a chance of coping with anti- incumbency, said DM Diwakar, former director of the Patna-based A N Sinha Institute of Social Studies.

“There have been failures on many fronts, development, law and order and governance. The corona pandemic has exposed the collapsed state of health infrastructure so it makes sense for the two parties to go together and cover up for these failures by offering doles and more work under MNREGA {Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act},” he said.

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