Amid reports of differences with BJP, Nitish Kumar gets RJD invite
Elections are over in Bihar, but not politics. The sudden turn of events within the NDA, despite the unanimous “all is well” refrain from its top leadership, has generated a lot of speculation about the new twist state politics could take in the run-up to 2020 assembly elections.
The Opposition is keeping its fingers crossed, hoping to benefit from the same ‘triangle politics’ of Bihar that routed it in the recent Lok Sabha election.
Senior RJD leader and former union minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, known for his candid comments, even went to the extent of saying on Monday that Nitish Kumar coming back to Grand Alliance (GA) would be a good option.
In Bihar’s politics, JD-U, BJP and the RJD form the three sides, leaving very little room for smaller parties, as was proved during the 2019 Lok Sabha Polls when BJP and JD-U together made a clean sweep. But in 2015 assembly polls, just the reverse had happened, when the RJD-JD(U) combine completely dominated barely a year after emphatic Lok Sabha win for the BJP in 2014.
The politics in last decade in Bihar has amply proved that Nitish Kumar has remained the pivot around which other parties have revolved to make their fortune.
None of the three main parties has shown the capability to do it on their own, even with fringe players. Despite phenomenal successes in neighbouring UP and Jharkhand, BJP, too, has struggled to win elections on its own in the state.
“If Nitish Kumar comes to our side along with other regional parties, it will help beat BJP. In politics, anything can happen. Nobody has given anything in writing that Nitish Kumar cannot return to GA,” said Singh, who has been a strong advocate of all regional parties joining hands to stop the BJP.
RJD leader Mrityunjay Tiwari, too, said that Singh’s statement should be seen in the light of discomfort Nitish Kumar had shown following denial of adequate representation to the JD-U in the union cabinet. “In politics, possibilities never end. Keep watching what happens next,” he said.
The JD-U, however, was quick to deny any such thing. “The NDA is strong and united. If Nitish Kumar said no to symbolic representation in the union cabinet, why should it pain others? Those who want to stop BJP should join hands. We have left one seat each for BJP and the LJP in the state cabinet. There is no confusion in Bihar,” JD-U spokesman Ajay Alok said.
But despite such denials, the turn of events in the last 24 hours point to something cooking. “Nitish Kumar knows his strengths and is well aware of Bihar politics. He will act when he finds it right. Why should he be in any hurry? In politics, nothing is done in impulse. Biding time is also an art in politics,” said former director of A N Sinha Institute of Social Studies, D M Diwakar.
While the state NDA leadership in the morning on Sunday played down Bihar’s cabinet expansion, terming it as a requirement for the JD-U to fill its vacant quota, the evening presented an entirely new picture of JD-U, RJD and the BJP organising separate ‘iftaar’ parties for the Muslim brethren, a common practice in Bihar but something that got delayed this year due to elections.
The BJP top leadership stayed away from the JD-U’S iftaar and vice-versa. What made the ‘iftaars’ interesting was the presence of former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi at the JD-U’S iftaar. Manjhi, who is with the GA, also invited Kumar for the ‘iftaar’ he is hosting Tuesday evening and Kumar has accepted the invite.
At the RJD’S ‘iftaar’ also, invitation had been given to chief minister Nitish Kumar and other BJP and JD-U leaders.
In the evening on Monday, another ‘iftaar’ has been hosted by LJP chief and union minister Ram Vilas Paswan, who categorically said yesterday that Kumar “was, is and will remain in the NDA.”
Both the BJP and the JD-U leaders are set to join Paswan’s ‘iftaar’. Paswan himself went to meet Kumar at his residence with LJP MP Chirag Paswan to extend the invitation.