Bihar is currently witnessing swiftly changing political dynamics with strong indications that Chief Minister Nitish Kumar may switch camps and join BJP-led NDA. At the Republic Day function in Patna on Friday, Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav did not sit in the chair placed near the Chief Minister, and opted to sit at a distance with his party leader and Assembly Speaker Awadh Bihari Chaudhary. Nitish Kumar and Tejashwi Yadav did not speak to each other throughout the function, leading to speculations of an imminent parting of ways between the two. On Thursday, there were hectic parleys in JD(U), RJD and BJP camps, with Home Minister Amit Shah holding a meeting with senior party leaders in Delhi.
Nitish Kumar has directed all his party MLAs to assemble in Patna by Friday evening and all scheduled party programs have been cancelled. There was tension in JD(U) and RJD camps on Thursday when RJD supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav’s daughter Rohini Acharya posted a series of tweets, indirectly attacking Nitish (without naming him) and later deleted the tweets on X platform. Nitish Kumar has decided to stay away from Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra rally in Purnea on January 30, and instead has reportedly opted to attend Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rally in Bettiah on February 4. A top-level meeting was held in Delhi between Prime Minister Modi, Amit Shah and BJP chief J P Nadda on Wednesday evening to discuss the pros and cons of joining hands with Nitish Kumar in Bihar.
Nadda has cancelled his scheduled Kerala tour and BJP leaders from Bihar have been called to Delhi. With reports coming that the RJD may try to wean away some JD(U) legislators, speculations are rife on whether Nitish Kumar will opt to join NDA and prove his majority in the Assembly, or whether he may ask the Governor to dissolve the assembly. All options are presently being worked out. Looking at the overall scenario, one thing is clear. It does not matter the least to Nitish Kumar whether he joins BJP camp or continues to stay with Lalu Yadav. Nitish’s sole aim is to ensure that his throne must remain intact. But Lalu Yadav is putting pressure on him to quit and make way for his son Tejashwi to become the chief minister. If BJP promises the CM’s post to Nitish Kumar, the latter will be more than willing to join the BJP camp. Nitish Kumar knows, both Lalu and BJP need his support, and whichever camp he may choose to join, will benefit.
Nitish Kumar wants the BJP to come forward with a concrete promise that he will continue as chief minister. As of now, there is no problem in BJP agreeing to the continuance of Nitish as CM, but the moot point is: Where lies the obstacle? The problem lies in simple arithmetic. Bihar assembly has a total of 243 members, and 122 is the magic number required for proving majority inside the House. BJP has 78 MLAs, Nitish’s JD(U) has 45, Jitanram Majhi’s party has four MLAs. Adding all three, the total comes to a comfortable 127, five more than the required majority. But Lalu Yadav can play his card. He can try to break the JD(U). Lalu’s RJD has 79 MLAs, Congress has 19, Left parties have 16 and there are two other MLAs. Adding all these numbers, the total comes to 116. Support of six more MLAs is required to prove majority. Nitish Kumar is apprehensive that Lalu may wean away some of his MLAs, or force some of the MLAs to resign. The Speaker is close to Lalu Yadav, and Lalu may try to take advantage. This can jumble all arithmetic figures. One option is to dissolve the assembly, but there is little time left. BJP does not appear to be ready for this. Time is of the essence. Anything that is going to happen, must be done as soon as possible. Amit Shah has few options left before him.
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