Nitish gives BJP a taste of Maharashtra in Bihar; set for new innings as CM

Although the Congress hopes to get a second deputy CM position, Nitish is unlikely to agree, sources said, adding that there could be too many power centres, much to RJD’s discomfort.

Nitish gives BJP a taste of Maharashtra in Bihar; set for new innings as CM
The swearing in ceremony will take place at 2 pm on Wednesday, according to sources.

Barely one and a half months after it engineered a defection in the Shiv Sena to storm back to power in Maharashtra, the Bharatiya Janata Party has got a taste of its own medicine — this time in Bihar. The party’s main ally in Bihar — chief minister Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) — walked out of the ruling National Democratic Alliance and formed a Mahagatbandhan with the opposition parties that included his old friend-turned-foe-to-friend-again Lalu Prasad Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal.

Five years ago, Nitish had resigned as chief minister and walked out of the Mahagathbandhan when RJD leader and deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav refused to step down in the wake of an alleged corruption case. On Tuesday, hours after ending his alliance with the BJP, Nitish staked claim again for the CM’s post, with Tejashwi as his deputy. He is all set to form a new government with the support of the RJD, Congress, CPI, CPI (M-L) and HAM (S) and an Independent – they together make a team of 164 MLAs in a House of 243.

The swearing in ceremony will take place at 2 pm on Wednesday, according to sources.

Before Nitish submitted his resignation to Bihar governor Phagu Chauhan in the afternoon, the JD (U) and RJD held separate meetings with their MLAs. The RJD reposed faith in Nitish’s leadership and did not put any pre-condition for extending him support to form a government. The Congress and CPI (M-L) had already offered their support to Nitish on Monday.

Nitish met the governor again in the evening along with Tejashwi, carrying signed letters of support from all allies to form the next government.

Also Read | Nitish Kumar resigns as Bihar Chief Minister, snaps ties with BJP again

After emerging from the Raj Bhavan, Nitish said, “I have nothing much to say on how suffocated we felt in the NDA… There was a dominant view in the party about snapping ties with BJP. Now, the Grand Alliance has seven parties.”

Taking a swipe at the BJP, he said, “Everyone knew what kind of an atmosphere was being built. We will continue to work for BIhar.” Asked if he aspired to become a Prime Ministerial candidate, he said, “I have a mandate to work for Bihar.”

Tejashwi said, “In the entire Hindi heartland, the BJP has no ally now. It is all because the BJP tries to finish its ally… Hamare purkhon ki virasat koi aur lega kya? (Can someone else hijack our legacy?) I am happy Nitish Kumar decided to come back to us. We thank Lalu ji. He is the one who stopped L K Advani’s rath. We will not allow the BJP to fulfill its agenda.”

He called Nitish ‘the most experienced CM in the country’.  Asked if Nitish will be a PM candidate in the 2024 polls, he said: “I leave this question to Nitish Kumar ji… Bihar will continue to move forward under his leadership… We are chacha-bhatija, we fought each other and we are together again.”

Earlier, as Nitish’s car moved inside Raj Bhavan, a small group of JD (U) supporters, waving party flags, chanted slogans of  ‘Desh ka Pradhan Mantri kaisa ho, Nitish Kumar jaisa ho’. He returned from Raj Bhavan within 15 minutes and made a brief statement to the media that he had tendered his resignation to the governor.

Sources said Tejashwi will be the lone deputy CM in the new government. Although the Congress hopes to get a second deputy CM position, Nitish is unlikely to agree, sources said, adding that there could be too many power centres, much to RJD’s discomfort.

Also Read | Who is Vijay Kumar Sinha? Assembly Speaker who could be key to Nitish Kumar’s Bihar gambit

Dumped by Nitish a second time, the BJP pointed to his ‘habit’ of political somersaults. Senior BJP leader and Union minister Ashwini Kumar Choubey said, “Nitish Kumar is a perennial ‘paltu ram’ (turncoat). No one can trust him now. People of Bihar are going to see another round of jungle raj.”

Neither the BJP’s central leadership nor its state unit tried to dissuade Nitish from ending the alliance. Nitish had snapped ties with the NDA in June 2013 but had returned in July 2017 after being in power with the RJD for 20 months.

Several BJP leaders called the break-up with Nitish ‘good riddance’.

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