A political upheaval is possibly brewing in Bihar as the NDA alliance of Janata Dal (United) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) seems shaky. The meeting of JD(U) MPs and MLAs is being held at the chief minister’s official residence, party sources told PTI.
The meeting of the RJD legislators is convened by party leader Tejashwi Yadav at his mother Rabri Devi’s Circular Road bungalow, a stone’s throw from the CM’s Anney Marg residence.
Attempts are evident in the JD(U) to downplay the impact of the unceremonious exit of RCP Singh, who has been Kumar’s close associate in various capacities for nearly three decades.
Singh, believed close to BJP, had resigned on Saturday after a section within JD(U) questioned the IAS-turned politician on alleged irregularities in acquiring properties. Singh had to quit the Union cabinet earlier this year after his party refused another him term in the Rajya Sabha, sparking talk of a possible split within the party.
A peak into different aspects of the Bihar political situation:
The JD(U)-BJP Fray
Speculations of yet another political volte face by Kumar have been fueled by his skipping the farewell of former President Ram Nath Kovind and the swearing in of Droupadi Murmu last month. More recently the chief minister also skipped the Niti Aayog meeting on Sunday, following which his party also announced that that it will not send any representative to the central cabinet after the departure of RCP Singh. None of these events are seen as auguring well for the NDA alliance in the state.
Ties between the two parties had frayed over the last few months following a series of disagreements between them over a host of issues including caste census, population control and the Agnipath’ defence recruitment scheme.
JD(U): No Split in Party
The Janata Dal (United) on Monday said whatever decision is taken under the leadership of Chief Minister Kumar will be accepted by everyone in the organisation. JD(U) spokesperson K C Tyagi said, “Nitish Kumar is the undisputed leader of the JD(U). He commands respect in the rank and file of the party. Therefore, there is no question of any kind of split in the party. Whatever decision is taken by the party under Nitish Kumar’s leadership will be accepted by everyone.”
‘We Are There’
RJD national vice-president Shivanand Tiwary said that convening meetings of legislators by both parties on Tuesday were a clear indication that the situation was extraordinary.
“Personally, I am not aware of the goings on. But we cannot ignore the fact that both parties, which together had sufficient numbers to muster a majority, have convened such meetings when an assembly session is not round the corner, Tiwary told reporters here. If Nitish chooses to dump NDA, what choice do we have, except to embrace him (gale lagaenge’).”
“RJD is committed to fighting the BJP. If the chief minister decides to join this fight, we will have to take him along,” said Tiwary.
He was also asked whether the RJD would be willing to forget bitter episodes of the past. Kumar had done a volte face and returned to the NDA in 2017 leaving a coalition government with RJD and Congress which he led as chief minister, high and dry.
The Congress legislature party in Bihar will “welcome Chief Minister Nitish Kumar into the opposition camp if he chose to snap ties with BJP, party sources told PTI.
“We always believe that parties with similar ideologies (samaan vichardhara) should come together. If the CM’s JD(U), which believes in socialist ideology, quits BJP we will definitely welcome it. But these are early days. We will discuss the unfolding situation at the meeting in the evening,” AICC secretary Shakil Ahmed Khan told PTI-Bhasha over phone.
Left Ready to Help
The Left would welcome any re-alignment of forces in Bihar’s ruling coalition that excludes the BJP, communist parties said Monday, after news broke of disagreements between NDA partners JD(U) and the saffron camp.
While the CPIML(L), which is the largest Left party in Bihar with 12 MLAs, said that it “will extend a helping hand” if JD(U) were to ditch the BJP and set up or join a new coalition, the CPI(M) – the larger party nationally but with two legislators in the state – felt that “if a new alignment were to take place, it would be a positive development”.
CPIML (Liberation) general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya told PTI “we will extend a helping hand if the JD(U) breaks up with BJP” and a new government is set up. He pointed out that the party at its Gaya conference had made it “clear that to save the state from the BJP, we will take whatever steps are needed”.