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Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s resignation had caused political turmoil in the state, Nitish broke off the alliance with BJP and is set to join the Grand Alliance (Mahagathbandhan). The recurrent party shifts by Nitish are expected to disrupt the political arena in both the centre and state.

Key takeaways

  • Nitish Kumar, Chief Minister of Bihar resigned on 9 August 2022.
  • Nitish Kumar broke an alliance with BJP and formed a coalition with RJD, entering back into the Grand Alliance (Mahagathbandan).
  • He has the support of seven parties and 164 MLAs in his favor to be reappointed as the CM again, this time in coalition with RJD.

Political scenario in Bihar since 1995

The state of Bihar has been under the rule of three major political parties - Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Janata Dal United (JDU) and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD). Since 1995, no party has secured majority seats in Bihar elections, so the three parties always resorted to forming alliances with each other. The coalition of parties ensured that they acquired two-third seats in the state assembly elections in the state. When the parties tried to contest solo or merged with smaller allies, the results were catastrophic. JDU won just 2 seats during its solo contest in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

Each of the three parties has tried to contest without forming an alliance with one another but was unsuccessful in the elections. RJD contested all elections except for one in 2015, without BJP and JDU; in the 2014 elections, JDU contested without BJP and RJD; in 2014 and 2015, BJP contested without JDU. The BJP party succeeded in the 2014 elections but met with dismay when JDU and RJD joined hands for the 2015 elections.

Nitish Kumar’s relentless political shifts as the crisis unfold

The political crisis in Bihar was instigated by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar when he decided to partner up with RJD after severing the alliance between JDU and BJP. He has also resigned from his post as Chief Minister of Bihar. It disrupted the whole state leading it to be in pandemonium. The upheaval was agitated when leaders of BJP accused JDU of backstabbing BJP during his exit from NDA.

Nitish Kumar is a politician and the sitting Chief Minister of Bihar who is also a co-founder of the political party Janata Dal-United (JDU). JDU is part of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). He was first chaired as CM in 2000 but his government succumbed within a week. He later became the CM in 2005 and has been governing the state ever since except for a brief period in 2014, when he had to resign from his post due to the poor performance of his party in the Lok Sabha elections.

The alliances and break-ups between JDU and Nitish Kumar seem to be recurring habitually. In 1989, during his initial years in Janata Dal, Nitish Kumar supported Lalu Prasad Yadav as opposition leader in Bihar Assembly. In 1994, after a disagreement with Lalu Prasad, he established the “Samata Party” with George Fernandes. In 1996, Nitish Kumar united with BJP and was a minister during Atal Vajpayee’s cabinet. During a tiff between Janata Dal president Sharad Yadav and Lalu Prasad, the latter broke ties and started RJD.

In 2000, Nitish Kumar gained his office but he resigned after taking the oath. When the NDA and its allies had secured 151 seats, Lalu Prasad’s newfound RJD had 159 seats, but unfortunately, both fell short of the required 163 seats. In 2003, Samata Party formed an alliance with Janata Dal while still being in alliance with BJP. The Janata Dal United (JDU) was then formed at the helm by Nitish Kumar as the leader. JDU and BJP formed an alliance and came to power as NDA members in 2005. 

17 long years later, Nitish cut ties with BJP in 2013 when Narendra Modi was appointed as the chief ofthe BJP’s campaign committee for the Lok Sabha Polls, 2014. Following this move, he acquired a trust vote with Congress’s support and was re-appointed as Chief Minister with the support of both Congress and RJD.

The Grand Alliance between Congress, JDU and RJD won the 2017 assembly polls but crumpled shortly after two years when Lalu Prasad’s son was alleged to be involved in a money laundering case. Nitish pulled out of the Grand Alliance following this incident. Again in 2022, he broke ties with BJP and joined hands with RJD.

Resignation of Nitish Kumar and breaking ties with BJP

The Bihar assembly comprises 243 seats with RJD leading as the single largest party with 79 MLA followed by JDU with 45, Congress with 19 and CPIML with 17.  In the fast-paced political changes in Bihar, Nitish Kumar resigned as the Chief Minister of Bihar on 9 August 2022, after submitting a support letter from one independent party and seven other parties to Governor Phagu Chauhan. He stated that BJP was “not giving respect” and “conspiring against them” as the reason for his discontinuation of the coalition. He accused the BJP is trying to demolish all parties it forms alliances with. Sushil Modi from BJP denied all allegations that BJP was trying to destroy the JDU. Nitish Kumar, JDU leader has said that all MP’s and MLA’s have agreed to withdraw from the NDA coalition led by BJP in the meeting at his residence, following which he submitted his resignation letter. JDU becomes the third major party to snap ties with BJP after Shiv Sena and Shiromani Akali Dal in 2019, since BJP’s consecutive win in the Lok Sabha elections. The ruling party in Tamil Nadu, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) said that JDU’s withdrawal from NDA has boosted the momentum of the party’s vision to fight BJP at the national level.

Upendra Kushwaha, RJD leader congratulated Nitish Kumar in a tweet for directing a “new coalition in a new form” and also upholding the RJD-led Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance). Nitish Kumar was declared the leader of the new Mahagathbandhan after his retraction of a collision with the BJP.

Mahagathbandan is an alliance formed between political parties in Bihar consisting of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), ), Janata Dal (United), Indian National Congress(INC) and Left parties including Communist Party of India (CPI), Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPIM) and Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist) Liberation [CPIML(Liberation)]. In 2015, Nitish was made the chief ministerial candidate for the Grand Alliance and won the election for the fifth time. Later during that year, due to a spat with RJD for their alleged attempt to break off JDU, Nitish was forced to join BJP and NDA again. However, he faced backlash from Lalu Prasad calling his act a betrayal and the reason for the disorientation of the Grand Alliance. 

What’s next for Nitish Kumar and JDU

A day after splitting with the BJP coalition government, Nitish Kumar is to take oath on 10 August 2022 as the CM for the eighth time along with Tejashwi Yadav as his deputy. This time, he will be backed by RJD, Congress and the Left parties. He was accompanied by Tejashwi Yadav, RJD leader, and members of Congress and left Front when Nitish was staking a claim in the formation of the new government. He broke his allies with the BJP for the second time to form an alliance with RJD. Nitish now has support for his new government from various parties and around 164 MLAs.

In a meeting of the Grand Alliance held at Rabri Devi’s residence, the mother of opposition leader of Bihar State Assembly, Tejashwi Yadav, the MLAs were in consensus to sign a support letter in favor of Nitish. All the parties in the alliance including the left reiterated their open support and welcome for JDU for a coalition sans BJP. Congress has stated that it would support the non-BJP government in Bihar to bolster secular forces. Tariq Anwar, Congress general secretary has said that Nitish Kumar will have Congress as long as he is not with BJP. This hinted at Mahagathbandhan 2.0, resuming from where Nitish Kumar and RJD left off ahead of the 2024 elections.

Bihar’s BJP members fume on the breaking up of ties, teaming up with the opposition and throwing the jibe ‘Paltu Ram’ (one who keeps changing sides), which was first used by Lalu Prasad. Union Minister Giriraj Singh called Nitish Kumar a ‘parasite’ and dared him to contest independently by holding new elections. Ravishankar Prasad, former Union minister, reminded Nitish of the help rendered by BJP when JDU had won only two seats. 

Nitish Kumar warned the Modi-led BJP government as they should be mindful of the 2024 elections. BJP leaders agreed that the shift has caused quite the disorder in the country and a setback for the ruling party, they still have two years until the next elections to work on it.

Conclusion

The political commotion unfolds as Bihar Chief Minister, Nitish Kumar resigned his post after breaking ties with BJP and forming a coalition with RJD. He is faced with serious repercussions for his political shifts. Nitish Kumar has once again joined the Grand Alliance (Mahagathbandan) and staked a claimon the formationof a new government with the support of Congress, RJD and other Left parties. He is to be sworn in as the Chief Minister again with his new ally Tejashwi Yadav as Deputy CM. The state of Bihar is in mayhem now with all the drifting changes.
 


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