NEW DELHI: Is Nitish Kumar set for yet another political volte face? Well, all indications point to the possibility of the Bihar chief minister ready once again to switch sides.
Nitish Kumar has had an uneasy alliance with the BJP in Bihar since the 2020 assembly elections in which his party the Janata Dal (United) was reduced to being the junior partner of the saffron party.
The BJP emerged from the shadows of Nitish Kumar but agreed to continue with him as the chief minister of the alliance. However, the saffron party kept a constant pressure on the junior ally.
Nitish Kumar is wary of the BJP, more so after the developments in Maharashtra where the saffron party’s estranged ally Uddhav Thackeray not just lost his government but is also struggling to keep a hold on his party.
With the Rashtriya Janata Dal of Lalu Prasad, which is the single largest party in the state, already offering to “embrace” Nitish Kumar if he dumps the BJP, the stage is set for an interesting political potboiler in Bihar.
Nitish has called a crucial meeting of his party MLAs and MPs on Tuesday to take stock of the situation and the rumour is that this could set the stage for his latest volte face..
How do the numbers stack up?
In the 2020 assembly elections, the RJD emerged as the single largest party with 75 seats. It was closely followed by the BJP which won 74. Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) with 43 seats was a distant third in the race followed by the Congress which got 19 seats.
The BJP overtook the RJD briefly in the numbers game. However, with four MLAs of Asaduddin Owaisi-led All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen joining Lalu’s party, the RJD’s tally is now at 80.
Nitish also has a promise of “helping hand” from the CPIML(L), which is the largest Left party in Bihar with 12 MLAs.
Clearly, Nitish Kumar has enough support to stay as chief minister even if he dumps the BJP.
Nitish Kumar’s political flip flops
If Nitish Kumar indeed decides to join hands with the RJD, it will not come as a surprise to any one. The JD(U) leader has a history of switching alliances to stay in power. After a fairly long association with the BJP, he joined hands with the RJD and the Congress to form a grand alliance in 2017.
However, in 2020 he quit the alliance to return to BJP’s fold and contested the assembly elections as part of the NDA.
Now, he seems to be all set for another political U-turn
RCP Singh: Friend-turned-foe
While the BJP and the JD(U) have been engaged in constant bickerings over the last two years, the present crisis has centered around former Union minister RCP Singh, who was once a close confidant of Nitish Kumar.
However, the former IAS officer’s perceived proximity to the BJP eventually led to his exit from the JD(U) on a bitter note of corruption allegations against his family members.
The Chirag Model
The JD(U) has spoken of the “Chirag Model” being implemented in Bihar once again. Though it refrained from naming the BJP, the reference was obvious and bore testimony to the simmering tensions between the two allies.
“There was a conspiracy against CM Nitish Kumar and that is why we won only 43 seats (in the assembly) but now we are vigilant. A model appeared in 2020 polls in the name of Chirag Paswan, while another is being made at present,” JD(U) president Lalan Singh said on Sunday in a veiled attack at the BJP.
Chirag Paswan, son of late Ram Vilas Paswan, had a significant role to play in making Nitish Kumar the junior partner of the BJP. Chirag walked out of the NDA ahead of the 2020 assembly elections and fielded candidates, many of them BJP rebels, in several seats where the JD(U) was contesting.
Chirag’s Lok Janshakti Party could win just one seat, but it did deal a strong blow to Nitish Kumar’s party.
Chirag reacted strongly to these allegations and hit out at the JD(U). He dared the JD(U) to take on the BJP directly instead of accusing him of involvement in a conspiracy to dent chief minister Nitish Kumar’s popularity.
Addressing a press conference here, Paswan claimed the chief minister faced “greater danger from his close aides than from me” even as he alleged that Kumar has insulted former JD(U) national president RCP Singh, and had previously humiliated Sharad Yadav and George Fernandes.
(With inputs from agencies)





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