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Opposition leaders call Nitish Kumar’s switch a ‘timely effort’ to forge unity among secular forces

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar with Deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav at a function after paying tributes at Shaheed Smarak, in Patna, on August 11, 2022.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar with Deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav at a function after paying tributes at Shaheed Smarak, in Patna, on August 11, 2022. | Photo Credit: PTI

The JD(U)'s Nitish Kumar forming the government in Bihar after dumping the BJP was hailed by several Opposition leaders who called it a payback for engineering the fall of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra and a "timely effort" to forge unity among secular forces.

However, the BJP attacked the JD(U) leader for his switch with Union minister Giriraj Singh saying the RJD will wield real power in Bihar and that Mr. Kumar is serving his last term as Chief Minister.

Also read | Grand Alliance brings no-confidence motion against Bihar Assembly Speaker

Lashing out at the saffron camp, Bihar Congress in-charge Bhakta Charan Das quipped that "BJP-mukt Bihar" is the new message that has been sent out to people.

Bihar Timeline by TH Graphics Team

No ‘Operation Lotus’ in Bihar: Jairam Ramesh

Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said Bihar was no "Operation Lotus".

"No cash caught. No ED raids. No Assam CM. No resort travel. All done in characteristic Bihar style, civilised & low-cost. CM gets support of largest party and others. In Maharashtra, BJP engineered defections. In Bihar, BJP was rejected and ejected," he said in a tweet.

Nitish Kumar has created storm which can challenge BJP: Shiv Sena

The Shiv Sena claimed that Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has created a storm by severing ties with the BJP and this storm can pose a challenge to the saffron party in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls if it intensifies into a cyclone.

An editorial in the Sena mouthpiece ‘Saamana’ lavished praise on Mr. Kumar, saying the BJP tried to break his party Janata Dal (United), but he stung back and turned the tables by severing ties with the BJP.

“Nitish Kumar has created a storm. If it intensifies into a cyclone, then it can pose a challenge to the BJP,” the Marathi publication said.

It said the repercussions of political revolutions in Bihar, the land of socialist leader Jai Prakash Narayan, are felt in the entire country and the new political realignment in the state could potentially change the outcome of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

Bihar sends 40 MPs to the Lok Sabha, the fourth highest after Uttar Pradesh (80), Maharashtra (48) and West Bengal (42). 

‘Resumption of natural partnership’: Omar Abdullah

National Conference leader Omar Abdullah also congratulated Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his deputy Tejashwi Yadav for resuming the “natural partnership”.

“I join my father & my @JKNC_ colleagues in congratulating @NitishKumar & @yadavtejashwi. I’m sure the people of Bihar will benefit greatly from the resumption of this natural partnership,” Mr. Abdullah tweeted.

BJP ‘bowled bouncer’ to Jharkhand, lost govt. in Bihar: Bhupesh Baghel

In a veiled attack on the BJP, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel claimed that attempts to topple the Jharkhand government boomeranged and resulted in the loss of government in Bihar.

“I heard that attempts were made to topple the Jharkhand government. In the terminology of cricket, they bowled a bouncer but Jharkhand played a hook shot and they lost their government in Bihar,” Mr. Baghel said.

The Chhattisgarh CM said, “Earlier, ED and CBI used to visit Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. They would now also visit Bihar.” 

BJP gradually finishing off regional parties: Sharad Pawar

Supporting Mr. Kumar's decision to snap ties with the BJP, NCP chief Sharad Pawar accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of finishing off its regional allies gradually.

Speaking to reporters in Baramati town of Maharashtra's Pune district, Mr. Pawar claimed the BJP was planning about how to weaken the Shiv Sena and create a division in the party.

The Maha Vikas Aghadi government comprising the Shiv Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress was brought down and was replaced by a government of the Shiv Sena breakaway faction led by Eknath Shinde and the BJP.

BJP attacks Bihar CM

The BJP, on the other hand, launched a stinging attack on Mr. Kumar over his switching back to the Mahagathbandhan.

Giriraj Singh claimed Nitish Kumar is serving his last term as Bihar Chief Minister and will never get the chair again. Referring to RJD supremo Lalu Prasad's old remarks in which he had described Mr. Kumar as a "snake", Mr. Singh said that now the same snake has entered Mr. Yadav's house for furthering his prime ministerial ambitions.

BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi claimed the new government will fall before completing its term in 2025.

Sushil Modi, who has known Kumar and RJD chief Lalu Prasad for five decades, also said the JD(U) supremo insulted Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the people of Bihar who had voted for the NDA.

Addressing a press conference, the former Deputy Chief Minister alleged that Mr. Kumar will "ditch the RJD and try to split it, taking advantage of RJD boss Lalu Prasad's illness”.

He refuted the JD(U)'s claims of a "conspiracy" hatched through RCP Singh, claiming that the former Union Minister had been inducted into the cabinet after consent was obtained from Nitish Kumar by Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

"We will like to see how the new Bihar government functions with (RJD leader) Tejashwi as de facto CM; it will fall before next polls," the BJP leader added.

Sushil Modi also alleged that Mr. Kumar wanted to become the vice president and he dumped the BJP after the party failed to accommodate his ambitions.

The former Deputy CM's charge was rebutted by Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lalan, national president of Mr. Kumar’s JD(U), who also mocked Sushil Modi as a leader “abandoned by the roadside” by his own party as a “punishment” for “close relations he had with Nitish Kumar”.

Several other Opposition leaders rally behind Nitish Kumar too

Several Opposition leaders hailed Mr. Kumar taking oath as chief minister for the eighth time to head a Mahagathbandan government for a second time.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin said that the revival of the grand alliance in Bihar strengthened secular and democratic forces in the country.

"Heartiest wishes to Thiru @NitishKumar and my brother @yadavtejashwi on taking oath as the CM & Dy CM of Bihar respectively. The return of the Grand Alliance in Bihar is a timely effort in the unity of secular and democratic forces of the country," he said.

Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav congratulated Kumar and Tejashwi Yadav on taking over as Bihar's Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister, respectively.

Hailing the development in Bihar, Trinamool Congress MP Shatrughan Sinha said Mr. Kumar stands in the "front row" of the Opposition camp along with Mamata Banerjee and others to end the "Modi raj" in the country in the 2024 parliamentary election.

Mr. Sinha said the JD(U) leader has given the BJP a taste of its own medicine after it dislodged governments of opposition parties in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.

PDP president Mehbooba Mufti said the JD(U)-RJD alliance in Bihar should not be limited to government formation but become a genuine start to bring together secular and democratic forces in the country.

Mr. Kumar’s JD(U) asserted that it was “not scared of ED and CBI” following its break-up with the BJP, which rules the Centre.

JD(U) national president Rajiv Ranjan Singh, who addressed a press conference to reply to the BJP’s charge of “betrayal”, accused the former ally of having deceived the coalition dharma.

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Printable version | Sep 15, 2022 12:38:13 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/opposition-leaders-call-nitish-kumars-switch-a-timely-effort-to-forge-unity-among-secular-forces/article65757059.ece