The BJP on Tuesday lost power in the politically crucial State of Bihar as its ally, the JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar, walked out of the ruling coalition and submitted his resignation while simultaneously setting in motion the process to form a new government with the Opposition Grand Alliance.

After he submitted his resignation, Nitish Kumar was elected leader of the Grand Alliance and staked claim to be Chief Minister yet again.

Kumar tendered his resignation to Governor Phagu Chauhan, after a meeting of MPs and the JD(U) MLAs who collectively accused the BJP of “backstabbing” their leader. The State BJP president Sanjay Jaiswal hit back, accusing Kumar of “betraying the mandate of 2020 Assembly polls” for which he will be “punished by the people of Bihar”.

Shortly after the JD(U) legislators meeting, Kumar drove to the Raj Bhavan to resign and declare that he had “quit the NDA and resigned as the NDA’s CM”. He then went to his former ally and RJD supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav’s residence where all leaders of the Grand Alliance, comprising RJD, Congress and the Left, had gathered. Kumar then returned to the meet the Governor again with a letters of support from the Opposition. The RJD is the largest party in Bihar with 79 MLAs, the Congress has 19 and the Left parties including CPI(ML) Liberation, CPI and CPM have 16 MLAs. Former Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi whose four MLA-strong Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) has also expressed “unconditional support” to the new formation. Along with JD(U) 45 MLAs, Kumar has gathered enough strength in the 243-member Assembly to form the new government.

Poaching of members

The main reason for Nitish Kumar taking this drastic step was his growing outrage at the BJP’s central leadership’s expansionist designs which included poaching of crucial members of his own party. The latest flashpoint was over JD(U) former President RCP Singh who became a member of the Union Cabinet but was later termed as a “Trojan Horse” used by the BJP to organise defections in the JD(U).

While Singh was Steel Minister in the Modi Cabinet, he was denied another term in the Rajya Sabha by Nitish and he had quit. Over the weekend, the JD(U) MLAs openly accused Singh of “corruption”, pushing him to resign from the party. This is the second big episode after the 2020 Bihar elections during which the JD(U)’s prospects were sabotaged by Chirag Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) by putting up candidates and cutting into Nitish Kumar’s votes.

The prospect of “Operation Lotus” of the kind performed in Maharashtra where the Shiv Sena was carved out to install a government with BJP support finally pushed Nitish Kumar to join the Opposition ranks.

While Bihar elections are now due in 2025, Nitish’s alliance with the RJD is meant to challenge the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections with the resolve to consolidate the backward caste and Dalit votes. BJP is left only with Chirag Paswan who has just one seat in the Assembly.

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