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Business News/ Politics / News/  Is Nitish Kumar returning to NDA? A guide to what's happening in Bihar politics
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Is Nitish Kumar returning to NDA? A guide to what's happening in Bihar politics

Lok Sabha Election 2024: Speculations were rife on Thursday that JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar would return to the BJP-led NDA soon. Here's a look at the rumours and what led to these speculations.

 Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar at Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge's residence. (PTI)Premium
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar at Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge's residence. (PTI)

Will JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar flip again before the 2024 Lok Sabha election? Several reports were doing the rounds on Thursday, claiming that the Bihar chief minister may soon snap his ties with Lalu Prasad Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD). JD(U), RJD and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders reportedly held separate meetings on Thursday evening.

Nitish Kumar, Bihar's longest-serving chief minister, has reportedly been upset with the INDIA bloc for not getting a position in the alliance commensurate with his stature. Kumar also favours an early assembly poll to go with the Lok Sabha elections. This suggestion has not drawn a positive response from the RJD, the biggest party in the state's ruling alliance, sources told news agency PTI.

Meanwhile, sources told India Today that RJD supremo Lalu Yadav spoke to Speaker Awadh Bihari Choudhary. "Even the Deputy Speaker Maheswar Hazari has cancelled his out-of-state tour in view of changing dynamics in Bihar political circles," the report said. 

As of now, the Mahagathbandhan comprising the JD(U) and the RJD are in power in Bihar.

Here's everything you need to know about what is happening in Bihar's political arena.

1. JDU-RJD to snap ties? What rumours say

Rumour has it that Nitish Kumar's JD(U) may return to the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) after snapping ties with the RJD. Nitish Kumar is a key ally of the Opposition's INDIA bloc.

Speculations were rife after RJD president Lalu Prasad's daughter Rohini Acharya took a swipe at Kumar for "changing his ideology as the wind changes its direction" in posts on 'X'. Before this, Nitish Kumar had taken potshots at political parties promoting family members in politics.

Jan Ki Baat, which predicts elections through opinion and exit polls, cited sources as saying that Nitish Kumar is set to return to the NDA and is currently mulling legal options to dissolve the state assembly.

Meanwhile, India Today reported that the BJP has set a condition for the JD(U) chief — that if he wants to return to the alliance, then Nitish Kumar must give up the chief minister's post.

Zee News cited sources as saying that the BJP can bring Nitish Kumar to the Centre.

Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas) chief Chirag Paswan was also reportedly in touch with the BJP leadership. "I believe the next 24 hours are crucial," Chirag Paswan reportedly said.

2. Key Meetings

A series of meetings were reportedly held in Patna on Thursday evening. According to a Times Now report, JDU leaders held a meeting at Nitish Kumar's house, while RJD leaders held a separate meeting at Lalu Yadav's house.

Meanwhile, Bihar BJP president Samrat Chaudhary and former deputy chief minister Sushil Modi are likely to meet Union Home Minister Amit Shah and other senior party leaders on Thursday evening, sources said. "Amit Shah is likely to meet Bihar BJP chief Samrat Chaudhary and Sushil Modi," a source told PTI.

Chirag Pawan has also called a meeting of LJP leaders at his residence later Thursday night, India Today reported.

3. What JDU leaders have said?

Speaking with media on Thursday, JD(U) leader KC Tyagi said, "INDIA gathbandhan (alliance) salamat hai...Everything is fine in the alliance..."

When asked about Nitish Kumar's statement on dynastic politics and Rohini Acharya's tweet, Tyagi said, “Baccho ke comments par hum comment nahi karte (We don't comment on a child's remarks). Nitish Kumar's comment was neither on Lalu Yadav nor Sonia Gandhi, he was appreciating Karpoori Thakur..."

Tyagi also said there were no problems with regard to the sharing of seats between JD(U) and RJD. "However, there seem to be certain issues between the RJD and its older allies like the Congress and three Left parties. These must be sorted out at the earliest since we seem to be lagging behind the NDA in terms of poll preparedness," he was quoted by PTI as saying.

He also made it clear that the JD(U), which had in 2019 contested 17 seats, winning all but one of these, would not compromise on its own share.

On the latest meetings, another JD(U) leader G M Shaheen was quoted by Times Now as saying, “...these are just routine meetings that are going on in the state of Bihar."

4. What BJP leaders have said

Union Minister Giriraj Singh said, “As a BJP worker, I can say that the door to enter into our party is closed for Nitish Kumar. He is an unreliable politician."

Meanwhile, in an interview with News 18, former Bihar deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi said it is in the hands of the central leadership to make a decision on the alliances.

5: What fuelled these speculations

Sign 1: JD(U) and RJD leaders have been sniping at each other amid speculations among Kumar's supporters that their ally has been trying to undermine him in matters of governance as well as politics.

According to PTI, Kumar's decision to take over as the JD(U) president, by cutting short the tenure of Lalan Singh, was seen as a determined effort by him to take firm control of its organisation. This was amid suggestions from a section of JD(U) leaders that the chief minister's confidant may have grown too close to the RJD or was pursuing an independent agenda.

Sign 2: Nitish Kumar had earlier rejected the post of convenor of the INDIA bloc. JD(U) national general secretary Sanjay Kumar Jha had then said it would be deliberated upon within the party even as he claimed that the Bihar CM was in favour of a Congress leader becoming the chairperson.

Sign 3: Nitish Kumar may not join Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's Bharat Jodo Yatra when it reaches the state on January 29, sources told NDTV.

Sign 4: The BJP has been showing signs of warming up to Kumar, with its leaders toning down their criticism of him of late and even praising him at times. Asked about the likelihood of the Janata Dal (U) president's return to the BJP-led alliance, Union Home Minister Amit Shah had said the party will consider if such a proposal is ever made. Earlier, Shah had often asserted that the doors had been closed for Kumar's return to the country's ruling alliance, PTI reported.

Sign 5: While addressing an event recently, Nitish Kumar had criticised the dynasty politics — usually associated with the RJD, the Congress and the Samajwadi Party (SP). He had said, "These days, many people are more focussed on promoting their own family in politics, but Karpoori-ji never did that in his lifetime."

However, KC Tyagi asserted that Nitish Kumar's remarks about dynasty politics were not aimed at ally RJD. Tyagi, who is the JD(U)'s political advisor, said Kumar's expression of gratitude to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, for conferring Bharat Ratna on Karpoori Thakur, did not amount to a "prashansa" (praise).

"Nitish Kumar had appreciated the fulfillment of a long-standing demand and not showered praise on the PM. As regards the views on dynasty politics, different people sometimes happen to share a similar opinion on a matter. But it is a coincidence," Tyagi was quoted by PTI as saying.

 

Meanwhile, RJD leader Shakti Yadav also responded to the CM's dig at dynastic politics without taking any names and said his remarks were likely meant for BJP leaders.

Karpoori Thakur was a socialist leader and freedom fighter, who was twice chief minister of Bihar and prior to that, the state's education minister and deputy chief minister. The BJP asserted that it was Prime Minister Narendra Modi who decided to bestow the deserving honour on the late crusader for social justice.

Sign 7: Following Kumar's comments on "Dynasty politics", Lalu Prasad's daughter Rohini Acharya hit out at Kumar for "changing his ideology as the wind changes its direction" in posts on 'X'.

The Bihar BJP then accused Acharya of insulting Kumar and demanded an apology from her. Bihar BJP leader Nikhil Anand claimed Acharya had used derogatory language against Kumar in several posts on X, which were deleted later.

Sign 6: Nitish Kumar had met Bihar Governor Rajendra Vishwanath Arlekar. The meeting had caused some speculation in political circles in the state. However, Tyagi had said, "The meeting was regarding the appointment of Vice Chancellors in various universities in the state."

Former Bihar chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi had taken a swipe at the ruling alliance in Bihar following Nitish Kumar's meeting with the governor. "In Bengali, it is said, "Khela Hobe", in Magahi.."Khela hokto". In Bhojpuri.."Khela Hokhi". As for the rest, you yourself are wise...," Manjhis said in a post.

Nitish Kumar has swapped his alliance preference between the BJP and the RJD-Congress-Left camp frequently while remaining in power in Bihar.

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Published: 25 Jan 2024, 09:40 PM IST
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