Political history repeated itself in Bihar after five years when Chief Minister Nitish Kumar did a turnaround on Tuesday and joined hands again with the Opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) whom he had dumped in 2017 on the issue of corruption. This time, Mr. Kumar parted ways with the BJP and was elected leader of the RJD-led mahagathbandhan (grand alliance). He staked claim before Governor Phagu Chouhan to form the next government with the support of 164 MLAs of seven parties.
“Will never compromise on the issue of corruption and do service to people of Bihar along with others”, Mr. Kumar told media persons after returning from the Raj Bhawan. Asked when he would be taking oath, he said, “it is up to the Governor to give time for the swearing-in ceremony”. However, later it was informed that Mr. Kumar will be taking oath as Chief Minister at 4 p.m. on Wednesday.
After several flip-flops, Mr. Kumar this time would be taking oath as Chief Minister of Bihar for the eighth time since he first came to power in November 2005. Earlier, after submitting his resignation, Mr. Kumar told journalists outside the Raj Bhawan, “in today’s [Tuesday’s] meeting of all my party MPs, MLAs, Council members and leaders they expressed their desire to snap ties with the BJP and immediately I accepted their desire and came to the Raj Bhawan to resign from my post of NDA’s Chief Minister”.
Asked what was the problem with the BJP, Mr. Kumar added, “bahut din se chal hi raha tha…mere log aapko baad mein bata denge (It was going on for several days…my people will let you know later)”. It is said Mr. Kumar was upset with the BJP since he got evidence of at least six of his party MLAs and two Ministers who were approached and lured by someone on behalf of the BJP to split. Earlier, Janata Dal (United) national party president Rajeev Ranjan Singh aka Lalan Singh had told media persons in Patna that he had got all these audio evidence and “let the time come, will expose them as well”.
“My party leaders were saying since long that enough is enough and we should come out of the BJP alliance and when talks were done with the RJD, we took the decision”, Mr. Kumar said on Tuesday. The buzz in political circles is that former JD(U) president and ex-Union Steel Minister R.C.P. Singh, who recently resigned from the party over alleged charges of corruption, was behind luring the JD(U) legislators and Ministers on behalf of the BJP, to damage Mr. Kumar and his party JD(U). When asked about Mr. RCP Singh, Mr. Kumar quipped, “Maine iss aadmi ko kya se kya bana diya aur… (I took this man from where to what and….)”. Apparently hurt with Mr. Singh working as “Chirag model” to damage him and his party a la Eknath Shinde of Maharashtra, Mr. Kumar decided to snap ties with the BJP and he made another turnaround on Tuesday by joining hands again with the RJD and the Opposition grand alliance.
‘He is palturam’
Earlier, in 2013, unhappy with the BJP when it announced Narendra Modi as the prime ministerial candidate, Mr. Kumar had allied with the RJD and the Congress to contest the Assembly elections in 2015 and formed the mahagathbandhan government in the State. But two years later, in 2017, citing corruption charges against RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav who was his deputy in the Cabinet at the time, Mr. Kumar joined hands with the BJP once again. “He is palturam [Mr. turnaround] who does palti [turns] for lust of power and chief minister’s chair”, RJD chief Lalu Prasad had said at that time. Interestingly, it was Mr. Prasad, who is currently recuperating from his ill-health in Delhi, approved the proposal of alliance of his party again on Tuesday with Mr. Kumar. “I thank our party chief Lalu Prasad ji for approving a proposal for this alliance in the interest of Bihar and the country”, Mr. Tejashwi Yadav said.
Earlier in the day, all JD(U) MLAs, MPs, leaders had a meeting with Mr. Kumar at the Chief Minister’s official residence no 1, Anne Marg in which a decision was taken to snap ties with the BJP. Later Mr. Kumar went to the Raj Bhawan to submit his resignation. At the same time, a meeting of RJD MLAs and leaders was held at party leader Rabri Devi’s official residence 10, Circular Road. Later, the other mahagathbandhan allies such as the Congress and the Left parties too joined them when from the Raj Bhawan Mr. Kumar headed there to meet them. Later Mr. Kumar was elected leader of the mahagathbandhan and together with the letter of support of 164 MLAs, leaders of the alliance parties met the Governor to stake claim to form the government. A large number of mahagathbandhan supporters had gathered outside the Raj Bhawan to witness the political development unfolding every hour.