Only a few weeks ago, how things played out with Shiv Sena in Maharashtra, had a lot to do with the recent fast pace of political developments in Bihar. On Tuesday, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar snapped ties with the BJP and resigned as Bihar CM while seeking support of the Rashtriya Janata Dal, Congress and Left to form a new government in the state.
Political experts since long had a whiff what was to come. The fissures first became public when during elections, Nitish Kumar accused LJP's Chirag Paswan of conspiring with the BJP to weaken his party. Said to be nursing the hurt of betrayal ever since, Nitish Kumar feared another Shiv Sena-like split coming in JD(U). The resignation of his close aide and JD(U) advisor R.C.P Singh was the final nail in the coffin. Singh hinted at joining the BJP and Nitish Kumar's JD(U) became the third major ally to snap ties with the BJP after 2019. The other two being the Shiv Sena and the Akali Dal.
Nitish Kumar did his maths
The Janata Dal (United) has 45 seats, while the RJD and Congress bring along 79 and 19 seats respectively, taking the ally government well past the number required. The effective strength of the State Assembly is 242 and the figure required to form a government is 122.
The new coalition government has less than two years to show its performance as the Lok Sabha elections are due in April-May 2024. Nitish Kumar emerging as a consensus candidate of the reconfigured alliance and a possible challenge to PM Modi is what many are contemplating in the political circles.
Takes oath as the CM
In effect, one day after he snapped ties with the BJP, Nitish Kumar took oath as the Chief Minister of Bihar for the eighth time. Tejashwi Yadav took oath as his Deputy in the cabinet again at state Raj Bhawan in Patna. Shortly after taking oath, Kumar defended BJP's charge that he had disrespected the public mandate by breaking the coalition with BJP. "I didn't want to be CM after the 2020 Assembly polls, but I was put under pressure. You see what happened. How many seats did we win in 2015! And look at what we have been reduced to. Ask people in the party what they have been reduced to."
While clarifying the speculations pointing toward his Prime Ministerial ambitions, Kumar also threw a challenge to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. "I am not as aspirant for the PM's post. The question is will the person who came in 2014 win in 2024."
Opposition applauds the move
Congress, which is likely to get four ministerial berths in the new coalition government, and other opposition parties have collectively supported the developments in Bihar calling them an indication of change in national politics.
What the BJP says
Meanwhile, former Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi has dismissed JD(U)'s allegations that BJP wanted to break the party. The party also denied any association with Union Minister RCP Singh resigning from JD(U). State BJP President Sanjay Jaiswal has accused Nitish Kumar of betraying the people of Bihar.