Nitish Kumar takes over as JD(U) chief

JD(U) chief spokesperson K.C. Tyagi goes soft on BJP, saying that in politics, there are no enemies

December 29, 2023 12:58 pm | Updated 11:18 pm IST

Outgoing Janata Dal (United) president Rajiv Ranjan (Lalan) Singh congratulates Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on his election as the new chief of the party in New Delhi on December 29, 2023.

Outgoing Janata Dal (United) president Rajiv Ranjan (Lalan) Singh congratulates Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on his election as the new chief of the party in New Delhi on December 29, 2023. | Photo Credit: ANI

Months ahead of the Lok Sabha election, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was unanimously elected as the president of the Janata Dal (United) at the party’s national executive meeting held in Delhi on Friday, after incumbent president Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lalan Singh stepped down.

Mr. Singh had taken over as the party’s national president on July 31, 2021. Mr. Kumar now returns to the post for a second stint, after a gap of three years.  

The change of guard comes amid speculation of an internal rift in the party, and a growing distance between Mr. Singh and Mr. Kumar, though the JD(U) is publicly framing Mr. Kumar’s takeover as an attempt to make the party more “effective” and “assertive” in its negotiations with allies in the INDIA bloc ahead of the 2024 general election. 

Mr. Singh offered his resignation during the meeting, saying that he wanted to focus on the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. While proposing Mr. Kumar’s name to succeed him, Mr. Singh also sought to clear the air, claiming that the media had been running false reports about him, suggesting that he may lead a split in the party. 

‘No enemies in politics’

Addressing a press conference after the two-day meeting of the party’s national executive and national council, the JD(U)’s chief spokesperson K.C. Tyagi rejected the rumours of internal schisms. “We are Janata Dal (United) and we remain united. I can say that for the past few days, a BJP-inspired propaganda was going on but ultimately they are disappointed,” he said.

Mr. Tyagi strongly refuted reports that the JD(U) could return to the BJP-led NDA. At the same time, however, he issued a reminder that there are no permanent foes in politics. “In politics, there are no enemies. The opinion and ideologies can differ,” he said.  

Speaking to The Hindu later, Mr. Tyagi said that the Bihar Chief Minister was set to begin an all-India tour in the new year. “Several Opposition parties and social organisations have approached Mr. Kumar to visit different States. He will begin his tour with Jharkhand in January,” he said. 

Asked about the upcoming inauguration of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, Mr. Tyagi said that the party has not received any invitation yet. However, if they are invited, the JD(U) will surely attend it, he added

‘Hard bargainer’

So far, there has not been any discussion about whether Mr. Kumar will step down from the Chief Minister’s post to contest the 2024 general election, Mr. Tyagi told The Hindu. “There is no decision yet on whether Nitishji will contest Lok Sabha polls or not,” he noted. 

The change of guard in the JD(U) is seen within the party as a mature step ahead of the seat-sharing talk in the Indian National Developmental, Inclusive Alliance (INDIA).

“Lalan babu was at the helm of affairs but somewhere he failed to perform his duty as far as convincing the INDIA bloc leaders to propose the name of Nitish Kumar as convener or the coordinator. Nitish ji is a sharp politician and he had got this sense that continuing Lalan babu in the top post might cost him when the time of seat-sharing comes. Nitish ji is a hard bargainer and he wanted to take everything in his control before the talks could begin. A message was already given to Lalan babu to tender his resignation, he just followed the instruction of Nitish ji,” a senior JD(U) leader who was present in the meeting told The Hindu on the condition of anonymity.

The JD(U) leader however denied that Mr. Singh was shown the door because of his proximity with Rashtriya Janata Dal supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav, as claimed by BJP leader and former Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi.  

‘Lalan is RJD agent’

Mr. Modi, however, reiterated that his prediction has been fulfilled, alleging that Mr. Singh was engaged in breaking the JD(U) at the behest of Mr. Yadav.

“Removing him from the post of national president has come true within a week but this is the beginning of the game, not the end. The split of the party is certain. Those who were calling the news of Lalan Singh’s resignation as a ‘game of media and BJP’ will now have to hide their faces for a few days. After the removal of Lalan Singh, the workers celebrated it by distributing sweets and bursting crackers in the JD(U) office as if they had got freedom from a wrong person,“ Mr. Modi said.

He further claimed that two groups have formed within the JD(U), one led by Mr. Singh which includes 12 MLAs and supports the RJD chief, and another group which maintains goodwill towards the BJP. Mr. Modi also opined that if Mr. Singh had not been removed in time, he would have merged the JD(U) into RJD while working as Mr. Yadav’s agent.

Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav termed Mr. Modi’s claims as “imaginary”, and congratulated Mr. Kumar over his new role. He also denied reports of cancelling a trip to Australia, scheduled for January 6, due to the changed political scenario. “It’s nothing as such, foreign trips are part of the government and last time I went to Japan also. I keep getting the invitation and recently I got the invitation from London and Berlin as well. Many times, government officials visit there,” he said.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.