RJD-JD(U) realignment: It began cooking after Nitish’s attendance at Tejashwi’s iftaar feast
Insiders said the script was authored by ailing RJD chief Lalu Prasad, central Congress leadership and Kumar himself, who were in touch for last the two months to form a new government in Bihar.
Nitish Kumar’s decision as Bihar’s chief minister to agree on holding a statewide caste census, as demanded by opposition RJD, and his attendance at an iftaar party hosted by leader of opposition Tejashwi Prasad Yadav on April 22 this year were the first signs of the realignment between JD(U) and RJD, which reached its logical end on Tuesday, according to political leaders privy to the development.
Insiders said the script was authored by ailing RJD chief Lalu Prasad, central Congress leadership and Kumar himself, who were in touch for last the two months to form a new government in Bihar. The RJD chief is currently in New Delhi, recovering from a shoulder injury he sustained in June this year.
“For the last two months, secret talks were going on between RJD, JD(U) and Congress leaders in Delhi. The deal was finalised 15 days back between CM Kumar and the ailing RJD chief,” a former minister and senior leader in the grand alliance said, wishing not to be identified.
GA leaders said Kumar’s visit to Tejashwi Yadav’s iftaar party on April 22 this year was a symbolic gesture by the JD(U) strongman to signal that he is keen on a realignment, though it was covered up as a cordial gesture by the chief minister.
NDA leaders too are of the view that the visit was the turning point. “Nitish Kumar believes in symbolism and his visit to Tejashwi’s iftaar had political meaning,” said an NDA leader, adding that BJP could not anticipate that JD(U) would snap ties so quickly. “ It was cooking for a long time,” he said.
Union minister Giriraj Singh too said the realignment had its genesis during the iftaar party.
After the iftaar party, RJD chief’s elder son and MLA Tej Pratap Yadav too had made claims of a realignment. “I had earlier put a board of ‘no entry’ for Nitish Kumar. Now, I have put up an ‘entry board’ for Chacha ji ( Nitish). He came and now we will form government. It’s a secret,” Tej Pratap had said in a video clip, though his statement was not taken seriously.
Tejashwi Yadav too had become moderate in his attacks against CM Kumar in the last few months.
Significantly, insiders in the GA said the realignment was not without obstacles.
“The RJD brass was bargaining for the CM’s post for Tejashwi, who was declared as GA’s chief ministerial face in the 2020 assembly polls. However, a week back, things started moving fast when RJD finally gave up its demand for CM’s post and agreed on Tejashwi becoming the deputy CM,” said a senior RJD leader, wishing not to be identified. He said it has been agreed that ministerial portfolios would be shared on the formula of one minister against five MLAs.
“We will have around 15 ministers, like in 2015, whereas JD(U) would have 13-14 ministers. Congress could get 2-4 ministers while HAM(S) would get one ministerial berth,” the RJD leader said.
“There are chances of deputy CM keeping the home portfolio. There is agreement on RJD’s candidate for Speaker’s post, most likely senior MLA Awadh Bihari Choudhary,” the leader said.