Nitish Turns BJP To 360 Degrees

Janata Dal (United) leader Nitish Kumar with Rashtriya Janata Dal leaders Tejashwi Yadav and Tej Pratap, in Patna on Tuesday
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Janata Dal (United) leader Nitish Kumar with Rashtriya Janata Dal leaders Tejashwi Yadav and Tej Pratap, in Patna on Tuesday

Highlights

Nitish splits with BJP for second time, to take oath as CM today; MPs, MLAs wanted to end ties with NDA: Nitish; Chirag Paswan challenges Nitish, demands fresh elections in Bihar; Nitish cheated people, BJP: Jaiswal; ‘Amit Shah spoke to Nitish, failed to convince him’

Patna: 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 National Democratic Alliance chief minister and then after being elected leader of the Rashtriya Janata Dal-led 'Mahagathbandhan' (grand alliance) to stake claim for the top job in the state once again.

The Janata Dal-United-Rashtriya Janata Dal led 'Mahagathbandhan' (Grand Alliance) government in Bihar, to be led by Nitish Kumar, will take oath at 4 pm on Wednesday.

Soon after staking claim Nitish Kumar said there are seven parties including the Rashtriya Janata Dal and Congress who are supporting him.

"I came here to meet the governor and gave my resignation. There are seven parties including 164 MLAs along with Independents in the Mahagathbandhan," Kumar told reporters.

In the state Assembly, which has an effective strength of 242, requiring 121 MLAs for a majority, the RJD has the highest number of 79 MLAs followed by the BJP (77) and the JD(U) with 44.

The JD(U) also enjoys the support of four MLAs of former Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi's Hindustani Awam Morcha and an Independent.

The Congress has 19 MLAs while the CPIML-L has 12 and CPI and CPI-M have two each. Besides, one MLA belongs to Asaduddin Owaisi's AIMIM.

He was accompanied by RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav.

In the new government that is expected to be sworn in after that, sources say that while Nitish Kumar will continue as chief minister, the RJD's Tejashwi Yadav will be the deputy CM, the sources said.

Nitish Kumar's move, which was a reversal of what happened in 2017 when he left the Mahagathbandhan to rejoin the NDA, left ally BJP out in the cold for the second time in nine years. During the first meeting with Chauhan, he informed him that the decision to sever ties with the NDA was taken by his party, the JD-U.

After meeting Chauhan, Kumar went to the residence of former chief minister Rabri Devi to confabulate with RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav.

He had deserted the NDA for the first time in 2013 after Narendra Modi became the coalition's Prime Ministerial candidate.

The CM is understood to have told party legislators and MPs that he had been driven against the wall by the BJP which tried to weaken his JD-U, first by propping up Chirag Paswan's rebellion and later through the party's former national president RCP Singh.

Singh was made a Cabinet Minister at the Centre without Kumar's explicit agreement. Consequently, when his term as a Rajya Sabha member ended, the JD-U refused to give him another term as an MP, thus ending his stint as cabinet minister as well. Following this, rumours of a split in the JD-U engineered by Singh's supporters surfaced.

Relations between the BJP and the JD-U have been worsening for quite some time in the wake of disagreements over a host of issues including caste census, population control and the 'Agnipath' defence recruitment scheme.

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".

A day after he tested positive for Covid-19, Bihar Assembly Speaker Vijay Kumar Sinha said his test reports have come out negative, amid a brewing political storm in the state, where he will play a key role in determining the legitimacy of any new formulation.

Former Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) chief Chirag Paswan challenged him to face the people of the state in mid-term elections. "He was reduced to just 43 seats in the last elections, will win zero next time," Paswan, who has been accused of conspiring with the BJP to weaken the JD(U), said.

Accusing Nitish Kumar of insulting the people's mandate for the second time, Chirag Paswan also demanded the imposition of the President's Rule in Bihar.

State BJP President Sanjay Jaiswal termed it a clear case of cheating with people of Bihar and his party.

"Whatever happened in Patna on Tuesday, is a cheating with the people of Bihar and BJP," he said.

He also threw the jibe "Paltu Ram" (one who keeps changing sides), first used by Rashtriya Janata Dal supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav for Kumar, at the Janata Dal-United leader and rejected claims that their party was undermining him.

BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said that Nitish Kumar's claims that the BJP was trying to break Janata Dal (United), were 'baseless'.

"Nitish ji has left us (BJP) and has alleged that we are trying to break-up JD(U). So, today I ask you a few questions. Do you remember how and when you came to us? You had left Lalu Yadav when we were fighting the fodder scam issue," Prasad said.

As per unconfirmed reports, Union Home Minister Amit Shah had telephoned Nitish Kumar on Monday night and spoke to him for about six minutes.

It appears that Shah failed to convince Nitish to continue with the National Democratic Alliance and his assurance that Nitish will be CM till 2025 did not work.

Is Lalu Prasad Yadav back in the game in Bihar? His daughter Rohini Acharya made a "coronation" claim as she tweeted a Bhojpuri song: "Lalu Bin Chalu Ee Bihar Na Hoyi (Bihar can't be run without Lalu)."

Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav on Tuesday said that recent political history indicates that Bharatiya Janata Party destroys parties with whom it forms alliances.

"We did see that happening in Punjab and Maharashtra," he added.

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