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Nitish Kumar Creates Buzz by Declaring LS Candidate in Arunachal Ahead of INDIA Meet

Move being seen as “pressure tactics” by the JD-U chief ahead of the Opposition alliance meet to finalise a seat-sharing formula.
The opposition BJP alleged that the Bihar government slashed holidays for Hindu festivals and increased for Muslim festivals.

Image Courtesy: PTI

Patna: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who is also Janata Dal-United (JD-U) national president, on Wednesday proved once again that he is unpredictable in politics.

Even before the Opposition’s Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) has finalised the much-awaited seat-sharing formula, Kumar has declared his party candidate for Arunachal Pradesh’s parliamentary seat for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

Also, last week, during his party national executive meeting in Delhi, where he was elected party president after Lalan Singh resigned, Kumar announced that a senior party leader Devesh Chander Thakur, an MLC, would be the party’s candidate from Sitamarhi parliamentary seat in Bihar.

Amid the buzz that Kumar is set to become convenor of the INDIA  bloc, his move to name candidates in Arunachal Pradesh and Sitamarhi is being seen here as part of his “pressure politics” for hard bargaining during the formal seat-sharing meeting of the Opposition alliance.

Kumar is known for bargaining hard for more seats. With the next general elections a few months away and the seat-sharing process set to begin in the Opposition alliance, Kumar will likely play his “old game” to get a decent share for his party from Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Congress in Bihar.

In the past few days, several JD-U leaders demanded that Kumar should be made convenor of the INDIA bloc, claiming that he was “the best face” and “most capable” person for this challenging job.

Meanwhile, JD-U's key allies -- Congress and RJD leaders -- on Wednesday supported Kumar’s name as convenor of the Opposition alliance. This is a new development, as till last week, neither RJD nor Congress leaders had expressed support for him as convenor.

"The JD-U has decided Ruhi Tangung, president of the Arunachal Pradesh state JD-U, shall be its candidate in Arunachal West parliamentary constituency for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. This announcement is being made as directed by party president Nitish Kumar", said an official letter of JD-U, signed by party national general secretary Afaque Ahmad Khan, which was released to the media.

So far, no reaction has come from JD-U allies, Congress or RJD, in Bihar.

A political watcher recalled that it was Kumar who repeatedly said last month that there was need for the INDIA bloc to finalise the seat- sharing arrangement by January. None other than a senior JD-U leader and Bihar minister Sanjay Jha, considered close to Kumar, after the fourth meeting of the Opposition alliance in Delhi on December 19, said that Kumar wanted that seat sharing should be complete by January and after that alliance should come out with a common minimum programme and joint campaigns should start to take on the challenge of Bharatiya Janata party-led National Democratic Alliance.

"It is difficult to read Kumar's mind because his political decisions have surprised all in the past. He is unpredictable,” he told NewsClick, wishing not to be named.

On Tuesday, two senior JD-U leaders claimed that it was “certain” that Kumar was not returning to the BJP-led NDA. "JD-U is part of the Opposition INDIA and Kumar, as party president, is set to play an important role in further consolidating it to take on BJP in next year's election" they said.

As per unconfirmed reports appearing in the local media here, Kumar held a virtual meeting with Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge on Wednesday over naming him as convenor of the Opposition alliance. It was reported that Congress and other parties in the INDIA bloc had agreed to appoint Kumar as convenor.

A meeting of the Opposition alliance through video conference will be held soon in which a proposal will be placed to make Kumar the convenor, the reports said.

However, RJD leader and Bihar Deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav told media here that talks were going on with all parties of the Opposition alliance but “nothing is clear” when and where this meeting would be held.

Last week, it was reported by some Hindi dailies and local media here that Kumar was “unhappy” at not being named as convenor of the Opposition alliance or its Prime Ministerial candidate. Then party president Lalan Singh had termed the reports as "baseless".

JD-U leaders, however, said that Kumar had repeatedly clarified that he doesn't want any post in the alliance, but "only a strong and united Opposition."

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