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With support for Nitish Kumar, BJP adds Bihar to its kitty

The likely reunion of Janata Dal (U) and BJP will restore Nitish Kumar as the Bihar chief minister and put another state in BJP’s kitty.

india Updated: Jul 27, 2017 10:15 IST
Kumar Uttam
Kumar Uttam
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Nitish Kumar,Bihar news,Nitish Kumar news
BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi arrives at Nitish Kumar's residence in Patna on Wednesday. (PTI Photo)

The BJP wasted no time on Wednesday to come to the support of Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, who resigned from the post citing certain ‘circumstances’ that prevailed in Bihar. (Live updates)

Less than an hour after the party’s high command announced the formation of a three member panel to consult MLAs over its next course of action, party’s Bihar unit accepted Nitish as its leader.

“We are not in favour of mid-term elections,” Union minister JP Nadda had said after BJP’s parliamentary board meeting. “The BJP is committed to politics of development and stability. We welcome the fight against corruption in Bihar.”

A three-member committee has been formed to chalk out the future course of action, Nadda said, adding that the central leadership will take a call based on the panel’s report.

Bihar BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi was quick to announce party’s support for Nitish. BJP will join the government, he said.

The likely reunion of the two parties will restore Nitish as the Bihar chief minister and put another state in BJP’s kitty.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was first off the blocks to congratulate Kumar after he tendered his resignation. “Congratulations! Mr Nitish Kumar for joining the fight against corruption. 1.25 crore people are welcoming and supporting his honesty,” he said in a series of tweets. “For the bright future of the country, and especially Bihar, it is the need of the hour to rise above political differences and join the fight against corruption,” Modi said.

It was Modi’s rise as BJP’s campaign committee chief in 2013 that prompted Nitish to break ranks with the NDA. As Bihar chief minister between 2005 and 2013 – when BJP was part of the alliance – Nitish never allowed Modi to enter his territory for political rallies.

Modi defeated Nitish on his turf in 2014 Lok Sabha polls, and the Bihar leader settled score with the Prime Minister in Bihar assembly election in 2015.

But 2017 is different. “You can add two and two,” a BJP leader said. “Our remarks on political instability and Nitish’s hint that he cannot continue in the opposition camp any more.”

A formal agreement between Nitish and Modi will deal a blow to the Opposition’s effort to cobble together a front against the BJP in 2019.

Nitish was the brains behind the move, having first floated the idea of the merger of offshoots of erstwhile Janta Dal. It did not work.

Sources close to Nitish said he was getting impatient at how Opposition was approaching the next parliamentary election. The “burden” of running a government whose deputy CM is allegedly involved in corruption was too heavy for Nitish to carry on his shoulder, they said.

First Published: Jul 27, 2017 07:18 IST