Soon after Nitish Kumar went to the Raj Bhawan to offer his resignation as NDA’s Chief Minister in Bihar on Tuesday, the alliance partner BJP cried “foul and betrayal”. State BJP leaders were at loss of words and taken aback by the sudden, yet expected move by Mr. Kumar.
“By coming out of the National Democratic Alliance, Nitish violated people’s mandate which was given to us in the 2020 Assembly poll. We fulfilled our promise to make him Chief Minister despite his party got only 43 seats in the polls but he betrayed us today. People of Bihar will not tolerate this”, said State BJP president Sanjay Jaiswal, addressing media persons at the party headquarters in Patna. Mr. Jaiswal offered no other explanation on the issue. Senior party leader and Deputy Chief Minister in Mr. Kumar’s Cabinet Tarkishore Prasad, Health Minister Mangal Pandey, Road Construction Minister Nitin Nabin and others too were present.
“Nitish has betrayed us but with this he has lost his credibility. He had prime ministerial ambitions but in the NDA we cannot make him PM candidate”, said senior BJP leader and Union Minister Giriraj Singh. State BJP leaders huddled together late on Tuesday evening to mull the party’s next strategy in the aftermath of Mr. Kumar’s U-turn. However, most of the State BJP leaders preferred not to make any comment.
The political grapevine was that State BJP leaders had inkling that Mr. Kumar could take such a move of “betrayal” after the rift between both the partners widened on several issues such as demand for special status for Bihar, caste census etc. “But, it would come so soon, we had not anticipated”, said a lower-rung BJP leader. He also rued that “from the top party leadership there was no move to speak or convince Mr. Kumar”.
Recently, BJP President J.P. Nadda had said that in the days to come all regional parties would vanish and only the BJP would remain a political party at the national level. “This statement of Mr. Nadda meant that the BJP wanted to crush regional parties and the voice of the Opposition which has been an important part of democracy. That means the BJP wanted to crush democracy from the place from where it got originated”, said RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav. “This statement of Mr. Nadda certainly got the regional parties like the JD(U) and others apprehensive and might have triggered the sudden move of Nitish”, said the BJP leader.
Besides, recently the BJP held its joint national executive committee meeting of seven frontal organisations in Patna and asked all its 750 delegates to visit 200 out of the 243 Assembly constituencies of the State to get feedback from people regarding the coming 2024 polls. “Why only 200, the BJP could send its delegates to all 243 constituencies”, rued JD(U) national president Rajiv Ranjan Singh aka Lalan Singh. “This move had also alarmed Nitish and his party leaders that the BJP now wants to gobble up its ally JD(U)”, said the JD(U) leader.
Sources in the JD(U) told The Hindu that Mr. Kumar, though, was mulling over snapping ties with the BJP since long but the “RCP Singh episode” prompted him to take the decision soon to “avoid a Maharashtra-like situation”. “The BJP was using RCP Singh like Eknath Shinde to play Maharashtra-like political game but the alert JD(U) leader nipped that move in the bud with this masterstroke”, said a senior JD(U) leader requesting anonymity. “I agree that it was like a Machiavellian move by our party leader Nitish Kumar but what else he could have done to protect his party and power, you better tell me”, asked the leader.