Underlying fissures within the ruling alliance in Bihar came to the fore once again after former minister and Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Sudhakar Singh’s potshots at Chief Minister Nitish Kumar drew sharp reactions from the Janata Dal (United) and the Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) of Jitan Ram Manjhi.
On December 31, Sudhakar Singh, who resigned as the Agriculture minister in October 2022, referred to CM Nitish Kumar as “nothing more than a night watchman” since he has already announced that Deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav of the RJD will lead the alliance in the Bihar elections slated for 2025.
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However, what left the JD(U) fuming was Singh drawing parallels between Nitish and Shikhandi from the epic Mahabharat, a transgender. “When the BJP was trying to defeat Lalu Prasad, they fielded Nitish against him just as Shikhandi was brought in against Bhishma Pitamah,” The Indian Express quoted Singh as saying on a television news channel.
Reacting to Singh’s remarks, JD(U) parliamentary board chairperson Upendra Kushwaha said that his statement does not bode well for the “health of the Mahagathbandhan” while HAM(S) supremo Jitan Ram Manjhi raked up the RJD leader’s old association and accused him of “speaking the language of the BJP”.
Peculiarly, Singh’s remarks are not the first instance in the flurry of insults that RJD leaders have sent Nitish’s way. The sole RJD leader to have condemned the remarks was national vice-president Shivanand Tiwari national terming it “below dignity” and urging Jagdanand Singh to take action against his son.
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RJD leaders who spoke to IE admit that the delay by Nitish in Tejashwi’s coronation is causing discomfort within the party. Many, as per an IE report, consider Nitish Kumar’s largesse shown towards Tejashwi as a sham as well.
An RJD leader said that the CM’s projection of Tejashwi as a future leader holds little meaning given the lack of clarity on how the alliance would work in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. Notably, the OBC Koeri-Kurmis, and a section of EBCs and Dalits which form Nitish’s core constituency don’t see the RJD as an option. Moreover, Nitish Kumar’s plan of passing the baton to Tejashwi rests on the former’s national ambitions, which are yet to take off.