Hectic parleys as cracks widen in Bihar alliance | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Hectic parleys as cracks widen in Bihar alliance

By, Patna
Jan 26, 2024 05:36 AM IST

In Patna, one RJD leader confirmed that senior leaders of the party, including former Union minister Jai Prakash Narayan Yadav, met Lalu at his 10 Circular Road residence, but called it an “informal meeting”.

Bihar’s capital was abuzz with rumours that chief minister Nitish Kumar of the Janata Dal (United) could break his alliance with Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), dissolve the state assembly, and rejoin the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – with the Congress, currently part of the grand alliance ruling the state, and the fledgling INDIA bloc of opposition parties being collateral damage.

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar. (Santosh Kumar/HT)
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar. (Santosh Kumar/HT)

The official word from the JD(U) was that there is nothing wrong with the alliance, but it is clear that all is not well between it and the RJD. Both Kumar and the state’s deputy chief minister (and Lalu’s son) Tejashwi Yadav held meetings of their respective parties on Thursday, ostensibly to discuss the road ahead, even as state BJP leaders were summoned to Delhi to meet party chief JP Nadda and Union home minister Amit Shah. Shah, Nadda, national general secretary Vinod Tawde, who is in charge of Bihar, state BJP president Samrat Chaudhary, national general secretary (organisation) BL Santhosh and party leader Sushil Modi were present for the meeting. Former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi also separately met Shah and Nadda.

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In Patna, one RJD leader confirmed that senior leaders of the party, including former Union minister Jai Prakash Narayan Yadav, met Lalu at his 10 Circular Road residence, but called it an “informal meeting”. He also confirmed that the RJD chief had spoken to Kumar in the afternoon, but claimed it had little to do with politics, and that they spoke of “Republic Day preparations”.

Simultaneously, JD(U) leaders, including MP Rajiv Ranjan Singh and ministers Sanjay Jha and Vijay Choudhary, also met Kumar but they too, at least publicly, played down reports of a political crisis. Emerging from the meeting, Choudhary said, “The government is running smoothly.”

On Wednesday, while participating in the centenary celebrations of socialist Janata leader Karpoori Thakur (awarded the Bharat Ratna on Monday by the Union government), Kumar spoke up against dynastic politics, a comment widely seen as aimed at the RJD. On Thursday, Lalu Prasad’s daughter Rohini Acharya wrote on X: “Those who claim to be socialist change their ideology like wind; what is the point when the problem is with self. There is no reason to get dejected as the inevitable will happen. Often some people are unable to see their own deficiencies but throw mud at others”.

The comment was seen as a response to Kumar, whose party was part of the NDA till 2013, then broke and allied with the RJD and the Congress till 2017, then re-entered the NDA fold and stayed there till 2022, before breaking up with the BJP and partnering with the RJD and the Congress again.

RJD MP Manoj Jha said the media was trying to read a lot between the lines and too quickly. “In politics and during election time, a lot of things happen. If we have to unitedly fight for a bigger cause, small differences don’t matter. We should not speculate too much on the basis of a tweet that was not from any party functionary,” he added.

JD (U) general secretary KC Tyagi said: “Who is she (Rohini)? Children should not speak on matters of elders. That is our tradition also.”

Still, it wasn’t immediately clear whether Kumar’s comment was the trigger or just a symptom.

It is believed that JD(U) leader Lallan Singh, who recently gave up the party chief’s post at the insistence of Kumar who took it on himself, was becoming too close to Lalu Prasad, and that Kumar was upset at what he saw as an effort by the RJD to make inroads into the JD(U). HT also learns that Kumar isn’t exactly pleased at the evolution of the INDIA bloc, an alliance which he got together, but where he sees his role shrinking. In a January meeting of members of the alliance, Kumar declined to be the convener of the opposition alliance, citing lack of consensus as West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav were not present at the meeting. The parties decided to appoint Congress national president Mallikarjun Kharge as the alliance president and kept the decision on convener in abeyance.

BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi, once known to be close to the Bihar CM, also defended Kumar. “What is important is that Nitish Kumar has so sharply attacked the dynastic alliance despite knowing the reality of his alliance partner. But then, Nitish Kumar is a tough bargainer and one never knows what he will do,” Modi told reporters.

A senior BJP leader said that what Nitish Kumar had said about dynastic politics was something Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been reiterating for long to ensure clean and vibrant democracy. “ The opposition alliance is disintegrating because of this reason only. The BJP central leadership is watching the developments. At present, it is premature to say what turn Bihar politics will take,” he added.

Poll strategist Prashant Kishor said the Bihar CM has a clear formula. “If he has to go with the BJP, he talks against dynastic politics and if he has to go with the RJD, he speaks against communalism.”

Manjhi said the sole objective of Lalu was to install Tejashwi as CM, which Kumar would never allow.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Arun Kumar is Senior Assistant Editor with Hindustan Times. He has spent two-and-half decades covering Bihar, including politics, educational and social issues.

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