New Delhi: Power politics in Bihar heated up on Friday as Chief Minister and JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar hinted at a possible switch to the BJP-led NDA with former state deputy chief minister and BJP Rajya Sabha member Sushil Modi saying that “doors are never closed permanently” in politics. The rift between JD(U) and RJD became evident when Kumar attended the high tea ceremony at the Raj Bhavan in Patna on the occasion of the Republic Day but his deputy Tejashwi Yadav gave it a miss. Kumar was seen mingling with other guests, including BJP’s Vijay Kumar Sinha, who is also the leader of the opposition in the state assembly.
Kumar tersely told reporters that it was up to Yadav and other leaders of the RJD, including Speaker Awadh Bihari Chaudhary, to explain why they skipped the function. The only prominent attendee from the party was state education minister Alok Mehta. Mehta or any other leader of the RJD did not comment on the absence of Yadav, who, according to sources, was meeting close leaders of the party at his residence to plan a strategy to prevent the loss of power in case Kumar decides to end the alliance.
“There is a lot of confusion which is not in the interest of the people of the state. Only the Chief Minister can clear the confusion. We hope he will do so…,” RJD national spokesman and Rajya Sabha MP Manoj Kumar told reporters.
When asked about Jha’s remarks, JD (U) chief spokesperson in the state, Neeraj Kumar hit back: “Our leader is in the Chief Minister’s residence as the leader of the Mahagathbandhan. There should be no scope for confusion. But if some people still choose to remain in confusion, we cannot help it”.
BJP Keeps Mum On Nitish Likely Return To NDA
In Delhi, Modi said “they (doors) open and close as per the necessity”, when asked by reporters about the BJP’s earlier stand that its doors were closed for Kumar forever after he broke ties with the party in August 2022.
“As far as Kumar or the JD(U) are concerned, doors are never permanently closed in politics. Closed doors open when the time comes but whether they will open or not is for our central leadership to decide,” he asserted.
However, BJP sources declined to comment on whether a decision has been taken to join hands with the JD(U). Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP president J P Nadda have been holding meetings over the developments in Bihar.
BJP leaders have also been in touch with allies such as former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, Chirag Paswan and Upendra Kushwaha.
Paswan and Kushwaha have a history of political antagonism towards Kumar. The Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas) leader, however, suggested that he would go by the decision taken by the BJP leadership.
Manjhi’s son, Santosh Kumar Suman, an MLC, said the JD(U)-RJD-Congress government in the state may fall in a day or two. He, however, added that his party has not received any categorical information from the BJP about Kumar’s likely return to the NDA. “It appears to me that this government will fall in a day or two,” he said.
JD(U) Denies Rumours Of Nitish Exit From Mahagathbandhan
Meanwhile, State JD(U) president Umesh Singh Kushwaha in Patna said, “all is well in Bihar’s ruling Mahagathbandhan and the media speculations are driven by some agenda.”
He also told reporters that he “met the chief minister yesterday as well as today. It is a routine affair. There is no truth in the rumours doing the rounds. We also reject the rumours that party MLAs have been asked to rush to Patna.”
Kumar had joined hands with RJD, founded by his former arch-rival Lalu Prasad, in August 2022 after he severed ties with the BJP which he accused of having tried to engineer a split in the JD(U).
The longest-serving CM of Bihar, Nitish Kumar, had launched a drive to unite all parties, across the country, to take on the BJP that resulted in the formation of the opposition bloc INDIA. If Kumar decides to return to the NDA fold, the opposition united front will also suffer a major blow.
Kumar had also virtually named Tejashwi Yadav as his successor, announcing that the RJD leader would lead the Mahagathbandhan in the next assembly polls, scheduled in 2025.
This had sparked resentment in the JD(U), causing a close aide like Upendra Kushwaha to leave the party, form a new outfit and walk back to the NDA fold.
However, signs of mistrust between JD (U) and RJD became obvious last month when Kumar formally took over as the party president, replacing Rajiv Ranjan Singh “Lalan” amid reports of Lalan’s closeness with the RJD camp.
However, Lalan had claimed that he gave up the top party post on his own because he wanted to focus on Munger, his Lok Sabha seat, in view of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
BJP Divided Over Aligning With Kumar
A section of BJP leaders from Bihar are, however, not keen on aligning with Kumar, claiming that his popularity is down and his diminishing credibility will hurt their party and leave the field open to the RJD-led opposition to cash in on the anti-incumbency against him.
Union Minister Giriraj Singh, a staunch critic of Kumar, told reporters that he will go by whatever decision the BJP leadership takes. “I am not welcoming nor am I against anyone. It is the decision of the central leadership. Whatever decision they take, I am sure it will be in the interest of the state and the party,” he said to a question.
Asked if he was happy about the possibility of a fresh BJP-JD(U) alliance, Singh said, “I am neither happy nor unhappy. I am a worker of the party, I will abide by whatever decision is taken.”
However, with the Lok Sabha elections round the corner, the prevailing view within the party appears to be that an alliance with Kumar will ensure a near-repeat of the 2019 poll results when the NDA had won 39 of the total 40 seats in the state. An OBC consolidation, in the event of JD(U) and RJD remaining together, would make Bihar a tough challenge for the saffron party.
Nitish Kumar Unhappy With INDIA Bloc
Moreover, Kumar has also been voicing his anguish over the way things were unfolding in the INDIA coalition, in which he was not offered the post of convenor until last month when he turned it down.
Kumar has maintained that he has “no personal ambitions” while remaining critical of the “delay” in arriving at a seat-sharing deal. BJP’s state president Samrat Choudhary meets Amit Shah, hints at meetings among state leaders
BJP’s state president Samrat Choudhary, who met Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Delhi Thursday evening, said the discussions were around the upcoming Lok Sabha polls and indicated that there will be meetings among the state leaders in the coming days.