The political drama that broke out in Bihar a few days ago culminated on Wednesday with the resignation of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and it was further spiced up when BJP extended its support to the erstwhile alliance’s head, leading to his re-election as the state’s head today.
The decision came as a shock to several political analysts and leaders as the Janata Dal (United) Chief had clarified that the Mahagathbandhan in Bihar was his “baby” and there was no risk of disruption.
Despite Kumar clarifying that he left the grand alliance due to increased corruption, leaders from the two other former alliance partners and even members of the JD(U) have shown a strong sense of dissent against the move. While his swearing-in ceremony was lauded by BJP stalwarts, tomorrow’s floor test holds significant importance.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP leaders such as Sushil Modi, who became the new Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar, congratulated Kumar for standing up against the corruption charges involving alliance partners RJD’s Lalu Prasad Yadav, his son Tejashwi Yadav and other family members.
Nitesh’s “call for conscience” to join the BJP came four years after the JD(U) broke its alliance with the NDA in 2013 when Modi was made the head of BJP’s campaign committee for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
However, in an exclusive interview to Times Now, JD(U) Ali Anwar Ansari termed the move as a “national tragedy” as he felt the move to side with the BJP will bring a whole new set of political differences in Bihar.
Shehzad Poonawalla, Secretary, Maharashtra Congress, came down hard on Nitish Kumar and questioned his ‘conscience’ that drove him away from the corruption. Citing the corruption charges against Sushil Modi, he asked: “Will Nitish Kumar resign again if the corruption charges against Sushil Modi are proved?”
Sticking to Congress’ statement, Poonawalla added that the whole party is disappointed and concluded his speech saying that the development is emerging without the mandate of the people in Bihar.
Even other leaders from the party are surprised at the decision, suggesting that Kumar did not discuss the matter with his alliance members.
Senior JD(U) politician Sharad Yadav, just before the start of the Kumar’s swearing-in ceremony, indirectly attacked the Centre over its Fasal Bima Yojana scheme for benefitting only private companies.
“Fasal Bima Yojana is a big failure as farmers are not aware of insurers but premium deducted from their loans, the benefit goes to only insurers,” he said.
The fact that senior leaders are distancing themselves from the party and criticising the government for its schemes is a clear indication that there is dissent among the JD(U) party ranks as well.
The politically-volatile state, reeling from myriad issues of corruption and rising communal tension, now awaits further escalation in tension, as the JD(U) moves back under the safer umbrella of the NDA.
While Nitish offered to resign yesterday, he had already extended support to the BJP on multiple counts, even if it meant defying his own alliance partners, the Congress and RJD.
With support from the BJP and other independents, He swore-in at 10 am today with 132 votes, 10 above the magic figures, confirmed Sushil Modi, who had earlier accompanied Nitish to the governor to stake claim to the government. The RJD, on the other hand, has 81 seats and the Congress can add 27 more and CPI-ML will contribute 3 more seats, taking the total tally to 111 seats.
Politically cornered after several allegations against the RJD top brass, it is unlikely that the party can prove its majority at the floor test, even if it has the single-largest party in Bihar. What quelled the RJD’s chances further is that fact that the swearing-in ceremony was scheduled at 10 am, as against initial reports that it would be at 5 pm. Tejashwi Yadav, who criticised Kumar vehemently for the move, expressed his dissatisfaction on social media about the sudden change in time.
Targeting Kumar and the BJP, he said: “Governor gave us the time of 11 am and now suddenly has asked NDA for oath ceremony at 10 am. Why so much hurry and rush Mr Honest and Moral?”
“I’ve been defamed. People of Bihar are watching. Being the largest party we should have been invited (to form govt in Bihar): Tejashwi Yadav,” he added.
This development is the final nail in the coffin to RJD’s chances of patching up their fresh wounds, in what seems to be a strategically tailored move by the BJP to widen its territory.
In the midst of all this hullaballoo, the real gainers are in fact the BJP, who not only found a way to creep into the political frame of Bihar but also to solidify their 2019 mission. It has already staked claim to 16 states in the country and the addition of Bihar further etches BJP’s 2019 chances.
RJD furious, BJP benefits
Despite Nitish Kumar’s stand on the whole squabble, Congress and RJD felt cheated by the former chief minister who resigned claiming increasing corruption in the party. While Kumar swore-in as the chief minister for the sixth time today, the RJD is in no mood to leave the ring without a fight, ahead of the floor test tomorrow.
As predicted, state-wide protests and dharnas have already started and are set to spread throughout the state. Chances are high that this surprising development will trigger some amount of initial violence in the state. It has also been learnt that RJD will disrupt Parliamentary proceedings in view of the fresh development in Bihar.
Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, after Kumar’s swearing-in ceremony, lashed out at him for the shocking betrayal. “Nitish has betrayed Bihar,” he said. He also went on to allege Kumar for swapping sides for his own on personal gain.
“Mandate was given to Nitish ji for the anti-communal fight but now he has joined hands with them for his personal politics,” he added.
Gandhi also added that he sensed Kumar’s plan from the past four months and that people like him do anything to stay in power.
Barring the initial turbulence and attacks, it seems that the BJP’s path to 2019 stands solidified as Kumar, who has been projected as an Opposition candidate earlier, shook hands with the BJP again.
It is a huge blow for especially Congress, which is struggling with the task of finding a leader capable of standing up to PM Modi in the 2019 Lok Sabha election.
However, even though the Congress’ goal of finding a strong opposition candidate in 2019 may be a tough task, a steeper period awaits Nitish Kumar, who within a matter of few hours has drawn flak from several members of his party, as he becomes the state’s chief minister for the sixth time.