In a day of fast moving political developments Bihar’s mercurial Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has split with ally BJP for a second time in eight years and is likely to meet Governor Phagu Chauhan later in the day, sources close to the development said.
Though no official announcements have been made, senior RJD leader Upendra Kushwaha in a tweet congratulated Kumar for leading a “new coalition in new form,” implicitly acknowledging the split and embracing the RJD-led ‘Mahagathbandhan’ (Grand Alliance) to continue in office. The meeting with Governor Chauhan is scheduled for 4 pm, said sources.
A meeting of the RJD-led Grand Alliance, comprising the Left and the Congress, also took place at Rabri Devi’s house, across the street from the chief minister’s residence where all the MLAs are said to have signed a letter of support to Kumar.
Tejashwi Yadav’s letter of support
Leader of the opposition Tejashwi Yadav is likely to visit the CM’s residence to hand over the letter of support any time. The CM is understood to have told party legislators and MPs, at a meeting he convened at his official residence, that he had been driven against the wall by the BJP which tried to weaken his JD(U), first by propping up Chirag Paswan’s rebellion and later through the party’s former national president RCP Singh.
Singh was made a cabinet minister at the Centre without Kumar’s explicit agreement. Consequently, when his term as a Rajya Sabha member ended, the JD(U) refused to give him another term as an MP, thus ending his stint as cabinet minister as well. Following this, rumours of a split in the JD(U) engineered by Singh’s supporters surfaced.
Relations between the BJP and the JD(U) have been worsening for quite some time in the wake of disagreements over a host of issues including caste census, population control and the ‘Agnipath’ defence recruitment scheme. CPIML (Liberation) general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya had told PTI on Monday the crux of the row between JD(U) and BJP also stemmed from the recent statement by J P Nadda, president of the saffron party, who said regional parties “have no future”.
The BJP, meanwhile, has gone into a huddle at the residence of Deputy CM Tarkishore Prasad, where all ministers belonging to the party besides state president Sanjay Jaiswal and other senior leaders are also present. BJP sources said they will wait till Nitish Kumar makes the first move.
In the state assembly, which has an effective strength of 242, requiring 121 MLAs for a majority, the RJD has the highest number of 79 MLAs followed by the BJP (77) and the JD(U) with 44. The JD(U) also enjoys the support of four MLAs of former Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi’s Hindustani Awam Morcha and an Independent. The Congress has 19 MLAs while the CPIML(L) has 12 and CPI and CPI(M) have two each. Besides, one MLA belongs to Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM.