Nitish Kumar made a jab at Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the upcoming Lok Sabha elections after taking the oath as Bihar Chief Minister for an eighth time, continuing in office with a change of partners: “He won in 2014, but will he in 2024?”
Even though Nitish Kumar frequently mentioned “working towards Opposition unity” to topple the BJP at the Center, when reporters asked him whether he wanted to run for Prime Minister, he responded that he is “not a contender for anything.” The point to consider is whether the candidate who ran in 2014 will prevail in 2024, he said.
The fact that Bengal’s Mamata Banerjee, another regional leader with national aspirations, had to call off her march amid accusations of corruption against her party’s members, strengthens Nitish Kumar’s cause.
Nitish Kumar has long been considered a potential opposition contender to Prime Minister Modi if the Congress takes a non-leading role, according to analysts. But as he drifts in and out of partnerships, both with and against the BJP, that is drowned out. He had BJP support and was chief minister up till yesterday. And now, in a new iteration of their 2015 partnership, he is back with Lalu Yadav’s RJD, whose son serves as his deputy in the new cabinet. One of the partners is the Congress.
The JDU-RJD-Congress alliance’s first iteration, known as the “Mahagathbandhan” or “Grand Alliance,” took office in 2015. Two years before, Nitish Kumar ended his two-decade affiliation with the BJP. He left the NDA after Narendra Modi was named the PM face because of his issues with his background, particularly the 2002 Gujarat riots.
But in 2017, he reconciled with PM Modi’s party, left the Mahagathbandhan, and took a new oath. The JDU and BJP remained together for the 2019 Lok Sabha election, and they later triumphed in the 2020 state assembly elections. Nitish Kumar didn’t move from his seat. After two years, he made a new switch.
He stated today that he did not want to serve as chief minister following the BJP’s victory in 2020. “Find out what the party members (JDU) have been reduced to by asking them. I didn’t want to be CM, but I was pushed into it. You may then observe what transpired. In the past two months, I haven’t even spoken to any of you journalists.”
He made a reference to the decline in JDU’s enrollment. “In 2015, how many seats did we gain? Then we stayed with the same group of individuals (BJP), and now look where we have descended to.” Tejashwi Yadav has also stated that the BJP “wants to kill off regional parties” and “usurps its partners,” in addition to those in the JDU.
In a House of 243, Nitish Kumar’s JDU gained 71 seats in 2015 as a part of the Grand Alliance’s 170. With 80 seats, the RJD was the only party with a majority, but as the pact’s leader, he was elected chief minister.
The JDU currently has 45 places available. Despite these numbers, the BJP, which has 77 members, appointed him chief minister in 2020, although with two deputies from its ranks. Why do the change now? According to information obtained, Nitish Kumar and his party were most recently alarmed by the Maharashtra coup, in which the BJP supported a split in the Shiv Sena in order to regain power.
Nitish Kumar today spoke on his future following yet another flip, saying, “Whether I will stay or not… let people speak what they have to say.” He reinforced his position yesterday and declared that “we desire brotherhood in society” and that he “never allowed corruption.” Tejashwi Yadav, who was seated next to him, charged that the BJP was separating people along racial and ethnic lines: “As socialists, we. We all desire that the BJP’s goal in Bihar not be carried out.”