On Wednesday evening, Nitish Kumar was serving his fifth term as Bihar chief minister. On Thursday morning, he began his sixth. The state had no chief minister for one night during which Lalu Prasad Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) was surgically removed from the ruling coalition and its place was taken by the nationally dominant Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Kumar was not just leading Bihar’s grand alliance between Janata Dal (United), RJD and Congress, he was also in contention to become the face of a united opposition ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. But now, he has been co-opted into the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

By distancing himself from the Yadav clan and the corruption charges levelled against it, Kumar has projected himself as a man of principles. The only issue is that his principles keep changing—in 2013, he had broken with the NDA for the cause of secularism.

But for now, Kumar’s move is a body blow to the opposition which is anyway struggling to find a leader of substance.

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