Bihar Chief Minister
In a dramatic turn of events on Sunday, Janata Dal (United) leader Nitish Kumar assumed office as Bihar’s chief minister for the ninth time, mere hours after tendering his resignation and exiting the Mahagathbandhan coalition. The seasoned politician secured the position with the backing of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), marking a significant shift in Bihar’s political landscape.
Kumar’s oath-taking ceremony saw BJP’s Bihar chief Samrat Choudhary and party leader Vijay Sinha also sworn in as the state’s deputy chief ministers by Governor Rajendra Arlekar.
The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) holds the majority in the Bihar Legislative Assembly with 79 MLAs, followed closely by the BJP with 78. Meanwhile, the Janata Dal (United) boasts 45 MLAs. Additionally, reports suggest that the Janata Dal (United) and the BJP enjoy support from the four MLAs of the Hindustani Awam Morcha.
Before his abrupt departure from the Mahagathbandhan alliance, Kumar’s party was an integral part of the coalition, which comprised the Lalu Prasad Yadav-led RJD and the Congress at the state level, and the Opposition INDIA bloc at the national level.
Explaining his decision to step down, Kumar cited difficulties in working with his Mahagathbandhan partners and revealed that he had resigned following advice from senior leaders of his party.
— ANI (@ANI) January 28, 2024
This move comes on the heels of the Janata Dal (United)’s declaration a month ago, expressing its unwillingness to compromise during seat-sharing negotiations with the Congress in Bihar for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. Notably, Kumar has a history of alliance fluctuations with the BJP, having allied with and later severed ties with the party on multiple occasions.
The veteran politician first parted ways with the BJP in 2013 over its projection of Narendra Modi as the prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. However, in 2017, Kumar rekindled the alliance with the BJP.
Subsequently, in August 2022, Kumar exited the National Democratic Alliance and returned to the RJD-led coalition, subsequently taking oath as chief minister for the eighth time. His steadfastness against aligning with the BJP was underscored by his statement in January 2023, where he declared he would prefer death over such an alliance. Similarly, the BJP had maintained that its doors were permanently closed for Kumar.
Nonetheless, speculation about Kumar’s potential return to the National Democratic Alliance intensified, with BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi asserting that political doors are never permanently shut. Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge responded to these developments by expressing little surprise, invoking the Hindi phrase “Aaya Ram, Gaya Ram” to highlight the transient nature of political allegiances. Kharge claimed that the RJD leadership had forewarned about Kumar’s actions.
As Bihar braces for a new political era under Kumar’s leadership once again, the state’s political landscape remains in flux, with alliances and loyalties continually evolving.
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