NEW DELHI: Hours after dumping the BJP to get back with the RJD, Bihar Chief Minister today said the new ‘Mahagathbandhan’ or Grand Alliance has seven partners, and thus the numbers to take power. “We have 164 MLAs, who have all signed the letter of support,” he said after meeting the Governor, with RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav by his side.
Asked why he walked out the BJP-led NDA, Nitish Kumar said, “Our party unanimously wanted to exit that alliance.” Speaking in short sentences punctuated by smiles and sweeping hand gestures, he said he “never allowed corruption”, and “we want brotherhood in society”.
About the revived alliance, he said, “Now, in the future, we’ll remain together.” On Opposition unity against the BJP across the country, he said, “Whatever we need to do in other states, we’ll keep doing.”
RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav called Nitish Kumar “the most experienced CM in the country”, further fueling political analysis that the race really is for who’ll be PM candidate for the Opposition in 2024. Speaking first, Nitish Kumar ignored the question about his prime ministerial ambitions. He limited himself to “basic things”, and then pointed to his left, at Tejashwi Yadav: “He will tell you everything else.”
He slammed BJP chief JP Nadda who during a recent Patna visit — spoke of “finishing off regional parties”. “How can he say such a thing in Bihar, the motherland of democracy? He wants to finish off all opposition, which means finishing off democracy.” “That’s why the BJP is losing allies. For Nitish Kumar, this was his second meeting with the Governor within a few hours as he earlier handed him his resignation. He then went to meet the RJD leader and they together went to the Governor to seek a chance to form a new
.Even after the flip, numbers stack up fine for him. The RJD is the largest party in the Vidhan Sabha, with 79 MLAs. Add that to JDU’s 45, and they comfortably reach the majority mark of 122 in a House of 243. The alliance includes the Congress’s 19, besides some from other parties and at least one Independent — in fact, the math was never a hurdle for such a realignment. The BJP has 77 MLAs, which will make it the principal opposition party. Despite having more MLAs than the JDU, the BJP had given the top post to Nitish Kumar. And the RJD is doing the same, showing how his personality remains a key factor in the state’s politics.
Until 2015, Nitish Kumar was in partnership with the BJP — serving as Union Minister too — though friction had set in by 2013, as it became clear that Narendra Modi would emerge as the BJP’s main leader for the 2014 Lok Sabha contest. Nitish Kumar’s primary point of discomfort was Narendra’s Modi past, mainly the Gujarat riots of 2002. In 2015 elections, the JDU partnered with the RJD and Congress to win Bihar. They billed it as a victory of secular principles. With Nitish Kumar as boss, Tejashwi Yadav became deputy chief minister; his brother Tej Pratap Yadav, a minister too.
Two years later, we have the ‘Mahagathbandhan 2.0’ which — according to Nitish Kumar’s math — is stronger than the 2015 version. Nitish Kumar’s anger with the BJP breached the danger mark over reports that Union Home Minister Amit Shah was foraging within the JDU for defectors. The Chief Minister felt that RCP Singh, a senior leader from his party, who had joined the union cabinet, was being used to turn the JDU against him. He therefore refused to extend RCP Singh’s term in the Rajya Sabha, which meant that the latter had to resign from PM Modi’s cabinet. On the weekend, Nitish Kumar’s aides publicly accused RCP Singh of corruption; in protest, he quit the JDU.
Nitish Kumar felt that Amit Shah was attempting a repeat of“Let us forget what happened in 2017 and begin a new chapter,” said JD (U) leader Nitish Kumar to RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav, RJD sources have said. This is in reference to July 2017 when Nitish Kumar pulled out of an alliance with the Lalu Prasad-led RJD and stitched an alliance with the BJP to form a new government in the state. Announcing his decision, Nitish Kumar had then quoted corruption and criminal cases against Tejashwi Yadav, who was the Bihar deputy chief minister in Nitish Kumar’In a day of fast-moving political developments,
Bihar’s mercurial leader Nitish Kumar twice met Governor Phagu Chauhan, first to hand in his resignation as NDA chief minister and then after being elected leader of the RJD-led ‘Mahagathbandhan’ (grand alliance) to stake claim for the top job in the state once again.
Nitish Kumar’s move to dump the BJP was a “betrayal” and he has “lost credibility” by switching sides so frequently, sources in the BJP have told .. The sources also maintained that contrary to reports, top BJP leaders did not contact Mr Kumar. Despite knowing the trajectory of events, there was no effort to convince him to stay. This, sources said, was because the BJP is sure that Nitish Kumar has national ambitions and sees leading the opposition in the 2024 general elections as a better option.
Earlier today, in an interview with NDTV, Union minister Giriraj Singh insisted that the BJP has been maintaining coalition dharma. It was Nitish Kumar who “went shopping,” he declared, even when he was made the Chief Minister despite having 36 seats when the BJP had 63.
It was the BJP’s stance as the big brother in the state that had constantly riled Nitish Kumar since the state elections. What apparently pushed him over the edge was his conviction that the BJP was about to a do a Maharashtra in Bihar, sources said.
“Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance) of seven parties, one Independent will work closely,” Nitish Kumar said after his second meeting with the Governor today. In the first one, he resigned as Chief Minister of the government which consisted of his party, the Janata Dal United or JDU, and the BJP; less than an hour later, he returned to the Governor, accompanied by Tejashwi Yadav and other Opposition leaders, to state that they should be invited to form the next government based on their combined strength.
“I have resigned, I have informed all my MLAs,” said Nitish Kumar after his first session with the Governor. He said the decision to split from the BJP – for the second time in six years – was based on the feedback he received this morning at an interaction with his party’s legislators. Even as his party was meeting, Tejashwi Yadav, (32) held a parallel session with his MLAs, where it was agreed that they would support Nitish Kumar in a new government. Tejashwi Yadav will serve as Deputy Chief Minister and oath along with Mr Kumar. “The BJP betrays all its allies and intimidate others,” he said at the news briefing with Nitish Kumar.
Meanwhile,the BJP has accused Nitish Kumar of “betraying the mandate of the people” by switching partners mid-term. This is an established trait of Nitish Kumar’s however, and one that has triggered vast criticism of his ideological flexibility and willingness to trade principles for power. .CPIML (Liberation) general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya had told PTI on Monday the crux of the row between JD(U) and BJP also stemmed from the recent statement by J P Nadda, president of the saffron party, who said regional parties “have no future”.