Nitish Kumar is set to be the Chief Minister of Bihar again.
Bihar’s opposition party, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) is hoping for a change in guard in the state amid signs of a strain in the ruling BJP-JD (U) alliance after six JD (U) MLAs switched to BJP in Arunachal Pradesh last week.
The party has offered to project Nitish Kumar as Opposition’s ‘PM candidate’ for 2024 if the chief minister quits NDA and makes way for Tejashwi Yadav to take over.
“It is time for Nitish Kumar to move to Delhi. He is capable of leading the Opposition at the centre. If he (Nitish) snaps ties with NDA and Tejashwi Yadav becomes Bihar CM, RJD will support Nitish’s as Opposition’s PM candidate in 2024,” senior RJD leader and former Bihar Assembly speaker Uday Narayan Choudhary was quoted in a report in Hindi daily Navbharat Times.
The developments come days after JD (U) accused the BJP of not following the coalition dharma after six of the party MLAs in Arunachal Pradesh defected to the saffron party. The JD (U) has also rejected the demand of BJP to enact an “anti-love jihad” law in Bihar.
RJD leaders, keeping a close eye on the BJP-JD (U) alliance, have however said that it was for Nitish Kumar to make the first move even as the BJP insisted that its alliance with JD (U) in Bihar will not be affected by the development in the north-east.
The BJP and JD(U) contested Assembly elections in an alliance under the leadership of Nitish Kumar and won 125 seats in the 243-member Assembly.
The BJP won more seats (74) than the JD(U) (43) the Assembly elections held in October-November and Nitish Kumar was made the CM. RJD, however, emerged as the single largest party with 75 seats.
Last week, six of the seven JD(U) MLAs joined the ruling BJP in Arunachal Pradesh improving BJP’s tally to 48 in the 60-member house. JD (U) now has only one MLA left in the house.
JD (U) national spokesperson KC Tyagi had said that the defections had surely caused heartburns in JD (U). But BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi said on December 28 that the JD(U)-BJP alliance in Bihar was 'unbreakable'.
RJD national vice-president Shivanand Tiwary said the development in Arunachal Pradesh was "part of the chain of events that began with Chirag Paswans rebellion".
Paswan, the LJP president, had pulled out of the NDA ahead of the Bihar assembly polls vowing to dislodge Kumar from power. However, LJP could not win more than one seat though it succeeded in cutting into JD(U)s votes.
"The BJPs strategy was, firstly, to cut Nitish Kumar to size which it did successfully in the assembly polls. Now it has begun to humiliate him. What else could explain poaching of six JD(U) MLAs in Arunachal Pradesh where the BJP was already enjoying a very comfortable majority", Tiwary told news agency PTI.
READ: Nitish Kumar was reluctant to continue as CM, BJP had to convince him: Sushil Modi
Reports said Nitish Kumar was under pressure from the BJP, the senior partner in the alliance even before the Arunachal Pradesh incident for deteriorating law and order situation in the state. BJP, reportedly, wanted him to hand over the Home department.
Rajya Sabha member Ramchandra Prasad Singh was on December 27 chosen to replace Nitish Kumar as the new president of JD(U) last week.