“I assure you only the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will be seen in Bihar,” said Samrat Choudhary, the party’s new state president, during his road show in Patna on Monday, as he returned from New Delhi after his appointment.
Choudhary got a warm welcome at the Patna airport with MoS Home Nityanand Rai, Union Minister Giriraj Singh, Ashwini Chaubey, former BJP state president and MP Sanjay Jaiswal, former ministers namely Ravi Shankar Prasad and Shahnawaz Hussain among those present, as hundreds of leaders and workers lined up with flowers.
Choudhary addressed the leaders and workers at the BJP headquarters. “My father formed the Samata Party and Nitish Kumar took over. The BJP is ready to make cottages in Kalyanbigha (Nitish’s village). Remove Nitish Kumar from Bihar, make the BJP’s mandal president the CM, he will do a better job than him. We will hoist the party flag in every house under the leadership of our booth presidents. There was no BJP government for 75 years….I will repay your debt by forming the BJP government in Bihar.”
He further attacked deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav saying, “He had promised 10 lakh jobs. Tell me, how did he become a millionaire in one-and-a-half years?”
After becoming Bihar state president, Choudhary met PM Narendra Modi on Tuesday and gifted him a copy of the Bhagavad Gita. The newly appointed BJP state president thanked the national leadership for giving him the new responsibility.
Following the collapse of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, the BJP has been promoting Choudhary. First, he was given the responsibility of Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council.
In the BJP’s national executive held last year, which was inaugurated by BJP President JP Nadda in Patna, Choudhary was given the responsibility of organising the stage. The BJP, in the meet, focussed on adding dalit, minority and tribal vote bank. The meeting also discussed the outreach programme towards these communities by the SC, ST and minority morcha. Making Choudhary the state president is said to be the BJP’s big attempt to break into Nitish Kumar’s ‘Luv-Kush’ alliance, largest population after the Muslim-Yadav in Bihar.
देश के यशस्वी प्रधानमंत्री श्री @narendramodi जी से मिलकर उनका आशीर्वाद एवं मार्गदर्शन प्राप्त किया।उनके कुशल नेतृत्व में राष्ट्र का सर्वांगीण विकास हो रहा है। उन्होंने मुझे @BJP4Bihar के प्रदेश अध्यक्ष पद पर मनोनयन के लिए बधाई एवं शुभकामनाएं दी। pic.twitter.com/dApVM3aXGd— Samrat Choudhary (@SMCHOUOfficial) March 28, 2023
“We are committed to form the first BJP government in the state and win all 40 Lok Sabha seats from Bihar in 2024. People of Bihar are fed up with Nitish Kumar and he has become a non-entity in Bihar’s politics. The way he has cheated the people of Bihar, voters will teach him a lesson,” Choudhary said.
Former Chief Minister and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) MLC Rabri Devi wished Choudhary good luck, but took a swipe at the BJP saying, “Baniya se man bhar gaya hai to Mahto ko bana diya (Done with a Vaishya, the BJP is now betting on an OBC).”
FROM RJD TO JD(U) TO BJP
Born on November 16, 1968 in Lakhanpur village of Munger district, Choudhary has been in active politics for over 30 years. He started his career in 1990 and later became Agriculture Minister in 1999, but had to give up his ministership owing to his age. He became a Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) from Parbatta constituency twice, in 2000 and 2010. He won the elections on an RJD ticket and was a minister till Rabri Yadav’s ouster.
In 2010, he was made the chief whip of the opposition party in the assembly. After quitting the RJD in 2014, he was made the MLC and made the Minister of Urban Development and Housing Department in the NDA government from the Janata Dal (U) quota. When Nitish Kumar stepped down as the chief minister in 2014, taking moral responsibility for the JD (U)’s debacle in Lok Sabha polls, Jitan Ram Manjhi became the new chief minister of Bihar. By 2015, there was a rift between Manjhi and Kumar and the JDU got divided into two camps. Choudhary was a minister in the Manjhi cabinet and started supporting Manjhi. His rebellion against Kumar started from here.
Disillusioned after being a part of the Manjhi camp for years, in 2018, he joined the BJP. He was first made the vice-president of the party in 2018. When the NDA government was formed in 2020, he was made the Panchayati Raj Minister.
When the Grand Alliance ditched the NDA in August 2022, the party made him the Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council. Jaiswal’s tenure as state president was over in September, but the appointment was deferred due to two consecutive assembly by-elections and Amit Shah’s visit.
STRONG POLITICAL BACKGROUND
Choudhary, 54, belongs to an influential political family of Bihar. Born in a Koeri family, his father Shakuni Choudhary had been elected as an MLA and MP seven times. Shakuni Choudhary was the founder member of the Samata Party, where Kumar started his career. Shakuni became the member of the Lok Sabha from Khagaria constituency in 1998. Koeris, or the Kushwahas, form 7-8% of Bihar’s population.
The main reason behind Choudhary’s promotion is he belongs to the Kushwaha community. Choudhary will prove to be a trump card for the BJP to woo the Kushwaha-Kurmi community. The population of Kurmi-Koeris community in Bihar is 11%. Since 2005, these sections have been supporting Kumar.
VOICE OF ANTI-NITISH FACTION
The 2021 assembly poll results made JDU extremely weak in terms of seats. Kumar could not show his influence in choosing the ministers. Choudhary is one of the very few leaders in the BJP who rose to ministerial rank quickly despite coming from another party. The main reason for his progress in the party is his firm anti-Nitish stand.
Choudhary has been continuously attacking the JDU and Kumar on behalf of the BJP. With his statements, he breaks the image of Kumar as a national leader, which Kumar and his party keep trying to make.
Choudhary has been attacking Kumar directly on every issue. He has taken an oath that he will keep tying the turban till he ousts Nitish Kumar from the chief minister’s chair.
NITISH’S OLD GUARDS GONE
Upendra Kushwaha, who belongs to the Kushwaha community, has already parted ways with Nitish Kumar. He has formed his own party, which is indicating support to the BJP. RCP Singh, who was close to Kumar, has also split and is trying to break into the Koeri-Kurmi society, by calling himself a Kurmi leader.
- Bringing together the core cadre of the BJP
Choudhary has been a member of all major political parties of Bihar. In such a situation, there may be displeasure among the cadre leaders. There are many leaders in the party who have been associated with the party for years and were eyeing the post. Choudhary will have to grow in a balanced manner taking along the core cadre of the party.
- Stop disintegrating upper class votes
A big challenge before Choudhary will be to connect with voters of the Kushwaha community. In front of him are satraps namely Upendra Kushwaha and Nitish Kumar, who have been leaders of this group for years. Choudhary was limited to Bhagalpur and Munger. Along with this, preventing upper class vote, which is considered to be the core vote bank, from disintegrating will also be a big responsibility.
- To win the maximum number of seats for the party in the Lok Sabha
The first election in front of Choudhary is the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. Till now, in the 40-seat Lok Sabha elections, the BJP has always been contesting with Nitish Kumar as its face. Even now, Kumar’s JDU has 16 MPs. The biggest challenge before Choudhary will be to overcome the crisis of the chief ministerial face. The Bihar BJP will have to establish its face as well as win more seats. Next will be the Bihar assembly elections in 2025.
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