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Bihar: Nitish Dumps BJP, JD(U) to Form New Govt With Mahagathbandhan

Anticipating another Maharashtra-like coup, the JD(U) supremo has called it quits with BJP. In the new government, Tejashwi Yadav is likely to become deputy CM with control over the home portfolio.
Bihar CM Nitish Kumar Resigns from his post

Bihar CM Nitish Kumar. Image Courtesy:NDTV

Patna: After days of gossip in political circles, Bihar's ruling Janata Dal-United (JD-U) ended its alliance with the BJP on Tuesday. It was decided by the JD-U in a meeting of party MPs and MLAs, held at the official residence of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in the city.

Later, Nitish Kumar resigned as NDA chief minister and staked claim to form a new government after being uninamously elected as leader of the Grand Alliance or Mahagathbandhan. 

Kumar drove to Raj Bhavan to tender his resignation from where he returned to his residence, stopping for a while to inform the large posse of journalists “it was decided at the party meeting that we quit the NDA. I have, therefore, resigned as the NDA’s Chief Minister”, as per a PTI report.

Later, he told reporters that he had submitted list of 164 MLAs to the Governor and staked claim to form new government and "he will let us know when oath-taking can take place".

JD-U will  join hands with opposition Mahagathbandhan including RJD, Congress and Left parties, to form the next government in the state. On Tuesday afternoon, Kumar reached former CM Rabri Devi's house to confabulate with RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav. The CM has also met with governor Fagu Chauhan and apprised him of severing ties with BJP.

The CM’s decision comes as a significant setback for the saffron party in Bihar. Yet, today’s events were being expected amid increasingly strained relations between JD-U and BJP. More or less, this is a repeat of 2013 when Kumar broke ties with the BJP for the first time.

A senior JD-U leader told NewsClick that the party was forced to take the decision to end its alliance with the BJP due to growing differences on issues and the Machiavellian ploy of the saffron party to weaken the party and oust Kumar from power by using former Union Minister and former JD-U national president Ram Chandra Prasad Singh, popularly known as RCP Singh, to repeat the "Shinde formula of Maharashtra" in Bihar.

Kumar, who is the de-facto chief of the party, forced Singh to resign from the party on August 6. This was the night after the JD-U sought an explanation from him over allegations of corruption. Early this month, Singh resigned from the Union Cabinet as India's steel minister after the JD-U denied him a Rajya Sabha nomination.

"Kumar has informed party MPs and MLAs about how BJP insulted him and was playing a game to finish the JD-U. He was left with no option but to end the alliance," the JD-U leader said.

It is widely reported that BJP damaged the JD-U by using Lok Janshakti Party leader Chirag Paswan, who fielded candidates against all JD(U) contestants in the state elections in 2020. This reduced Kumar's party tally to 43 compared with 71 five years ago and weakened his position in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

Mahagathbandhan, including RJD, Congress and Left parties, have given letters of support to Kumar after his decision to end the alliance with the BJP. But CPI(ML) has made it clear that it will support the government led by Kumar from outside and will not join it.

The sprawling office of state BJP headquarters on the busy Veerchand Patel Marg in the heart of Patna, which is usually bustling with party leaders, workers and supporters, wore a deserted look following a jolt to the party.

Not far away from the BJP office, JD-U and RJD offices are crowded with party leaders and workers. They appeared upbeat with a fresh alliance of JD-U and RJD to form the next government in Bihar. Both the party leaders and workers are in the mood to celebrate and are planning to distribute sweets soon.

Hundreds of leaders, workers and supporters of JD-U and Mahagathbandhan parties gathered outside Rajbhawan to express their support for the political development. Security around Rajbhavan has been tightened with additional security forces deployed.

RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav at a meeting with MLAs today at former CM Rabri Devi's official residence here, said that he will join the government and will work to fulfil promises made to the people in 2020.

As per reports, Kumar will continue as chief minister, and Tejashwi will be deputy chief minister again, and he also has demanded the home portfolio along with the post of Speaker in the state Assembly and other important departments.

BJP core committee will meet here in the evening to discuss the fallout of the political development following the JD-U ended alliance with the party. The BJP leaders are set to address the media after that and are likely to target Kumar and will blame him for the end of the alliance.

In the last few months, the uncertainty in the JD-U and BJP relationship had surfaced in the open. Kumar's party JD-U expressed its differences with ally BJP in public over several issues, and Kumar has been seen distancing himself from the top leaders of the saffron party. The latest was on August 7,, when he did not attend a NITI Aayog meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

According to some JD-U leaders, Kumar was shocked on July 31 when BJP president JP Nadda in Patna claimed that only the BJP would survive and all other parties- including regional parties - would perish in the country. As JD-U is a regional party, this message was taken as a warning.

After the BJP emerged as a big brother in the NDA with 74 MLAs it won in the 2020 Assembly polls, Kumar, with 43 MLAs, was set to play second fiddle to his powerful ally. Initially, everything was smooth, but in the last one and half years, Kumar was neither happy as the Chief Minister nor comfortable with the BJP in complete control of politics and government.

In 2015 both RJD and Kumar's JD-U joined hands and contested the Assembly elections. They won and formed the government, but it did not last as Kumar dumped RJD in July 2017 and once again joined hands with BJP and formed the government. Earlier, Kumar dumped BJP in 2013, an ally of 17 years.

At JD(U) meet , Startling Allegations Against BJP

Startling allegations of backstabbing were made against the BJP by MLAs and MPs of the JD(U) on Tuesday at a meeting here after which Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar pulled the plug on the alliance, reports PTI.

According to sources in the JD(U), who did not wish to be named, information, including call details, were shared which suggested that former national president RCP Singh, who resigned from the primary membership last week, had contacted “about a dozen MLAs and a minister at the BJP’s behest, with the intention to split the party”.

The JD(U) lawmakers, who unanimously backed Kumar’s decision to dump the BJP, were of the view that things went fine till the 2019 Lok Sabha polls which the two parties, along with late Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party, had swept, winning all but one of the 40 seats in the state.

 “However, the BJP changed its colours once the assembly polls of 2020 approached. It was clearly behind the rebellion of Chirag Paswan who openly spoke of dislodging Nitish Kumar and fielded his candidates, many of them so-called rebels of the BJP, in all seats the JD(U) contested,” the sources said.

They also alleged that RCP Singh, who was then the national general secretary (organisation), had tried to ensure defeat of many JD(U) candidates whom he did not like.

Paswan’s brinkmanship, coupled with Singh’s alleged role, indeed, proved costly to the JD(U) a lot as its tally plunged to 43, from 71 in the 2015 assembly polls which the party had contested in alliance with the RJD and the Congress.

Singh went on to clinch a berth in the Union cabinet a few months after Kumar returned as chief minister for yet another term. His induction, however, did not have the approval of Kumar, the party’s de facto leader, and he was denied another Rajya Sabha term which caused him to resign.

The JD(U) leaders also complained of “non-cooperation” by ministers belonging to the BJP, which had a lion’s share in the cabinet owing to the saffron camp’s superior numerical strength in the Assembly.

The chief minister, on his part, is also said to have noted with dissatisfaction statements by “prominent BJP leaders who kept undermining his leadership”.

Soon after Kumar made the move, Union minister Giriraj Singh, known to be a detractor since his days as a defiant member of the state cabinet, vented spleen.

"It is no surprise that Nitish has chosen Muharram to betray us. What better occasion could he have for sacrifice (qurbaani) of his principles and promises," Singh told reporters.

 

(inputs from PTI)

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