A political storm is brewing in Bihar with allies BJP and JD(U) showing signs of going off the rails. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is expected to take a big decision at a meeting on Tuesday, August 9, where JD(U) MPs, MLAs and MLCs will be present.
Top JD(U) sources have told News18 that the alliance with BJP is “at a dead end”, adding that Tuesday’s meeting is crucial. JD(U) sources also told CNN-News18 that Union Home Minister Amit Shah dialled Nitish Kumar in the morning, but sources in Shah’s office denied it.
Amid reports of fissures between the two allies, the Bihar opposition — Congress, RJD and Left — have declared open support to Nitish and JD(U).
The RJD, which was in an alliance with JD(U) earlier, said that it was ready to embrace Nitish Kumar and his party if he snapped ties with the BJP. Nitish had in 2017 pulled out of an alliance with RJD over corruption charges levelled against then deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav.
The Left also announced support to JD(U) and Nitish if he broke ranks with the BJP, while the Congress said it would extend unconditional support to the Bihar CM if he walks out of the alliance.
The BJP, meanwhile, has adopted a wait-and-watch strategy and remained tight-lipped on the rift buzz. Though BJP leaders met at Deputy CM Tarkishore Prasad and assembly Speaker Vijay Kumar Sinha’s residences late in the evening, there was no word on what was discussed.
With a big decision expected on Tuesday, here are the key developments on this big political story:
- A day before Nitish’s key party meeting, JD(U) spokesperson KC Tyagi ruled out a division or split within the party. He said whatever decision would be taken by Nitish Kumar would be accepted by all. “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,” he said.
- JD(U) national president Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lalan said that Tuesday’s meeting would discuss the scenario that has emerged following the exit of former national president RCP Singh. He, however, remained tight-lipped on the speculations about Kumar planning to walk out of the NDA.
- RCP Singh resigned from JD(U) two days ago after being served a notice seeking an explanation on allegations of corruption levelled by some JD(U) members. Singh’s induction into the Union cabinet last year was a bone of contention between BJP and Nitish as the decision was taken without Kumar’s consent.
- Nitish, who didn’t take kindly to the rising ambitions of his protege, denied RCP Singh another term at the Rajya Sabha.
- Nitish’s former ally RJD, meanwhile, announced support for him if he broke ties with the BJP. RJD national vice-president Shivanand Tiwary said that “if Nitish chooses to dump NDA, what choice do we have except to embrace him?” 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.
- Asked about Nitish pulling out of an alliance with RJD in 2017 citing corruption against Lalu Prasad and his family members, Tiwary said “in politics, we cannot remain prisoners of the past. We socialists had started off opposing the Congress which was then in power. But, even the Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi was imposed invoking the Constitution”.
- Apart from the RJD, the Left also said it would extend support to the JD(U) if Nitish ditched the BJP. The CPIML(L), the largest Left party in Bihar with 12 MLAs, said that it “will extend a helping hand” if JD(U) snapped its alliance with 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”.
- AICC national secretary and MLA Shakil Ahmed Khan said whatever was happening in Bihar was shubh sanket (a good sign) as the BJP is getting a dose of its own medicine. Sources also said that a consensus has been reached among Bihar Congress legislators to extend unconditional support if Nitish Kumar decides to walk out of NDA.
- Sources privy to the developments have told News18 that Nitish Kumar had dialled Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi on Sunday and has sought time to meet her. But Khan declined to comment on this.
- BJP, meanwhile, is on a wait-and-watch mode with sources in the party saying that it will not open its cards till a decision is taken by the JD(U). Sources also said that there will not be any attempt to break the JD(U).
(With PTI inputs)