The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in Maharashtra plunged into a crisis after party leader Ajit Pawar broke ranks and took the oath as deputy chief minister of the state. The development came as a huge blow to NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, raising speculations about whether a similar situation could unfold in Bihar with the Janata Dal United (JDU) and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar returning to the fold of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
If we analyse the events of the past three to four days, several politically significant incidents have occurred, indicating that a Maharashtra-like-political crisis could also happen in Bihar. Speculations are rife that Nitish Kumar might once again make a comeback to the NDA fold.
What has led to such speculations? Let us try and understand. It is to be noted that Nitish Kumar pulled the plug on the alliance with the BJP in August last year and joined hands with the Grand Alliance.
AMIT SHAH SOFTENS STANCE ON NITISH KUMAR
Ever since Nitish Kumar parted ways with the BJP, Union Home Minister Amit Shah has visited Bihar five times in the past ten months. On each occasion, he vehemently criticised Nitish Kumar in his speeches, declaring that the BJP’s doors are permanently closed for him.
However, what is intriguing is that on June 29, when Amit Shah visited Lakhisarai in Bihar and addressed a public gathering, he did not make a single comment regarding Nitish Kumar or reiterate his previous remark that the BJP’s doors are shut for him.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah with Union Minister Giriraj Singh, Bihar BJP President Samrat Choudhary and Leader of Opposition in Bihar Assembly Vijay Kumar Sinha and others during a public meeting in Lakhisarai district.
Contrarily, Amit Shah attempted to rouse Nitish Kumar’s conscience by highlighting corruption and raised questions about his alliance with individuals facing allegations of scams worth over Rs 20 lakh crore.
Following Amit Shah’s lenient approach, speculation has begun to emerge in Bihar’s political circles that the BJP might use corruption as a focal point to turn the tables on Nitish Kumar once again.
In 2017, the BJP levelled corruption allegations against Tejashwi Yadav, which paved the way for Nitish Kumar’s alliance with the BJP after he listened to his inner voice and broke ties with the RJD.
The names of RJD supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav and his family members have popped up in the land-for-job scam and the IRCTC scam, and investigating agencies have taken swift action in both cases.
This has led to speculation that if Tejashwi Yadav, who has already appeared before the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the land-for-job scam, is arrested in the coming days, then it could serve as a compelling reason for Nitish Kumar to separate from the Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance).
NITISH KUMAR HOLDS ONE-ON-ONE MEETING
Nitish Kumar’s one-on-one meeting with his party MLAs has also drawn eyeballs and has kept the suspense alive over his next move.
When Amit Shah visited Lakhisarai, Nitish Kumar began conducting one-on-one meetings with all his legislators two days prior to Shah’s visit. During these meetings, Nitish Kumar gathered information from his legislators regarding the issues and challenges in their respective constituencies and also urged them to share problems faced by them.
According to sources, Nitish Kumar is also emphasising the need for unity among his legislators, assuring them that he is with them and will continue to support them.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar with his deputy Tejashwi Yadav during distribution of appointment letters for Science and Technology Department, in Patna. These individual meetings with his legislators have led to speculation about Nitish Kumar is apparently afraid of a split within his party. If sources are to be believed, he is trying to gauge the sentiments of his legislators and urging them to stay united.
There are also speculations that Nitish Kumar may be contemplating a shift in his political approach in the near future, which is why he is urging his legislators to remain united.
RJD NOT SATISFIED AFTER PATNA MEETING
Since the opposition parties’ meeting on June 23, Tejashwi Yadav, the Deputy Chief Minister, has been on a foreign tour and has not yet returned. There are speculations in the political corridors regarding this matter as well. The unanimous decision of all opposition parties to project Rahul Gandhi as the prime ministerial candidate during the June 23 meeting left Lalu Prasad and Tejashwi Yadav dissatisfied.
Nitish Kumar has been under continuous pressure from the RJD to become the opposition’s prime ministerial candidate and hand over power to Tejashwi Yadav in Bihar. However, after the opposition parties’ meeting in Patna, where there was unanimous agreement to work under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi, Lalu and Tejashwi seemed unhappy.
This has apparently miffed the RJD because if Nitish Kumar is not projected as the prime ministerial candidate, then he would continue as CM. This means Tejashwi Yadav will have to swallow the bitter pill and continue with the post of deputy CM.
WHAT IS BJP’s REACTION?
After the huge political drama in Maharashtra, former Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar and BJP MP Sushil Modi in a tweet claimed that a similar situation could happen in Bihar too.
Sushil Modi claimed that soon there could be a split in JDU as well, and Nitish Kumar is holding separate discussions with his legislators due to the fear of such a split. He also stated that legislators and MPs of JDU will neither accept Rahul Gandhi nor Tejashwi Yadav, which might lead to a significant rebellion within the party.
Modi’s claim is that after the alliance between the RJD and the JDU, several JDU MPs are at risk of losing their tickets in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, which could further fuel a major rebellion within the party.
Will the Maharashtra episode be played out in Bihar? Will Nitish Kumar once again jump ship and join the BJP-led NDA? Only time will tell.