Bihar finances forced JD(U) to choose Kovind?

Does prohibition and subsequent revenue loss in Bihar have a role in Chief Minister and JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar’s decision to break ranks with the Opposition on Presidential polls? Seems so, if one goes by a section of opposition leaders.

According to sources, the decision to support Ram Nath Kovind was taken after conveying to leaders that it was a one-time decision and it would not have any impact on Opposition unity.

There were indications that some of the senior leaders like Sharad Yadav had reservation over breaking ranks with Opposition in the Presidential polls. They were told that JD(U) was not jeopardising Opposition unity.

In public, JD(U) leaders said that Kumar has told the party’s Core Committee that Kovind had troubled his government and that he was not a hard core RSS man.

However, leaders indicated that Nitish might have wanted to keep the Central government in good humour for finding financial assistance from the Centre.

“Bihar has lost a lot of revenue due to prohibition. It is undergoing a huge amount of loss. It is a problem. Where will the money come from? The Centre has to help,” a senior leader said.

Sources said to get more money from the Centre, Kumar might have chosen this way to keep the Centre in good humour.

When a senior Opposition leader was asked about this, he said, “this is a credible reason. Then there is big mess with GST. The entire truck traffic to north-east is passing through Bihar. They will lose octroi and so many other avenues for revenue.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Jun 22, 2017)

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