BJP, Opposition on tenterhooks as Nitish seeks time to meet Governor today
- Nitish, Tejashwi to march to Raj Bhavan today
- Nitish Kumar ends alliance with BJP in Bihar
- Nitish and Tejashwi to meet Governor together
Chief minister Nitish Kumar has sought time from Raj Bhavan to meet the Governor at 4 pm on Tuesday amid indications that ruling JD(U)'s alliance with the BJP is on the brink.
"Expect explosive news," a senior leader from his party said ahead of the meeting. A senior source from the BJP who asked not to be named said, "Expecting this alliance to survive is like a very sick patient's family refusing to give up hope," reports ndtv.com.
Parallel meetings of the JD(U) which helms the Bihar government, and the Opposition RJD were on in Patna amid speculation of a major political move by the Chief Minister, reports PTI.
The meeting of JD(U) MPs and MLAs was being held at the chief minister's official residence, party sources said.
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.
The BJP is also holding a meeting at Deputy Chief Minister Tarkishor Prasad's residence and among those present there include party's state unit president Sanjay Jaiswal.
Other Opposition parties — the Congress and the Hindustani Awam Morcha Secular (HAMS) — had also called a meeting of legislators on Tuesday.
“If Nitish quits the NDA, we will not leave him all by himself; we will support him,” RJD vice-president Shivanand Tiwari said to a reporter’s question.
Nitish is an old hand at switching sides, his serial somersaults earning him the moniker of “Paltu Ram” (turncoat).
Neither the BJP nor the Opposition Grand Alliance can form the government in Bihar without the JDU, unless one of the bigger parties splits or sworn enemies BJP and RJD join hands.
The RJD now has 79 seats in the 243-member Assembly, followed by the BJP (77), JDU (45), Congress (19), the Left (16), HAMS (4) and the AIMIM (1). There’s an Independent MLA while one seat is vacant.
Nitish parted ways with Lalu Prasad and joined the NDA during Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s days, before dumping the BJP in 2013 when Narendra Modi was declared the alliance’s prime ministerial candidate. He tied up with the RJD and the Congress to win the 2015 Assembly polls, and then returned to the NDA in July 2017.
Ties between the ruling partners had worsened since the 2020 elections that turned the JDU into the junior partner with fewer seats, with Nitish suspecting the BJP of using former ally LJP, led by Chirag Paswan, to slander him and cut into his votes.
The current rancour has its roots in 2021, when the BJP apparently outmanoeuvred Nitish into letting then JDU president R.C.P. Singh accept a Union cabinet post.
Nitish had in 2019 decided not to join the new Modi government at the Centre, miffed at being offered only one cabinet seat.
The tensions deepened when Nitish refused to re-nominate RCP for the Rajya Sabha last July, forcing him to resign from the Union ministry.
The latest showdown was triggered after JDU members alleged that RCP had bought 58 plots of land in nine years. RCP quit the JDU on Saturday following the allegation and castigated Nitish over his functioning as chief minister and his alleged dream of becoming Prime Minister.
The JDU, mindful of the role Chirag had played earlier, now suspects the BJP might be using RCP to split the party or poach on its vote bank.
JDU national president Rajiv Ranjan Singh aka Lalan Singh on Monday raked up the circumstances in which RCP had been inducted into the Union cabinet last year.
“R.C.P. Singh came and informed Nitishji that Amit Shah had said his name was on the list of those who would be made cabinet ministers. So, Nitishji said, ‘Go and become a minister’,” Lalan said.
“How can the BJP decide who will become a Union minister from the JDU?”
Lalan said his party had called a meeting of its legislators, including the MPs, to discuss the situation arising out of RCP’s resignation from the party.
The JDU and the BJP have differed constantly on issues such as the National Register of Citizens, uniform civil code, population control, namaz at public places, the wearing of the hijab at government educational institutions, loudspeakers at religious places, the Pegasus spyware scandal and a caste census.
Nitish has avoided attending programmes convened by the Centre for the past one month, the latest example being the Niti Aayog meeting chaired by Prime Minister Modi on Sunday.
Sources close to him said he was being driven by a desire “to challenge Narendra Modi and take a shot at the post of the Prime Minister in the 2024 general election”.
Additional reporting by J.P. Yadav from New Delhi