Tracking Bihar’s Political Pulse: Nitish Kumar Set To Shun RJD, Re-Join Old Ally BJP

As the BJP signals its intention to join forces with the Janata Dal (United) once again, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is expected to keep his position in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government with two BJP leaders as his deputies, following the 2020 Assembly elections outcome.

The BJP may choose a leader from an Extremely Backward Class (EBC) as one of the Deputy CMs, possibly former Deputy CM Renu Devi who belongs to the Nonia community. Renu Devi made history in 2020 as Bihar’s first woman Deputy CM, but she lost her post in August 2022 when Nitish switched sides to Mahagathbandhan and toppled the NDA government. The party insiders say there is no consensus yet on the second Deputy CM. Some of the contenders are former Deputy CM and Rajya Sabha MP Sushil Kumar Modi, current Leader of Opposition Vijay Kumar Sinha, and current MoS for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai.

Nitish Kumar is likely to resign and seek a new mandate to form the government on Sunday, sources say, with the BJP and the JD(U) likely to hold party meetings and later convene a meeting of the alliance to elect Nitish as its leader. Sushil Kumar Modi and Sinha have said they will abide by whatever decision the BJP’s central leadership makes for the party’s sake.

The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) along with the Congress and the three Left parties have 114 MLAs, just eight short of a simple majority in the House of 243 members. The JD(U) with 45 MLAs and the BJP with 78 legislators and the support of one Independent legislator have 124 MLAs, more than the simple majority. Sources say the RJD might try to woo some JD(U) MLAs to prevent Nitish from forming the government with the BJP. RJD national spokesperson and Rajya Sabha MP Manoj Kumar Jha, however, strongly denied it saying, “We do not indulge in such things. But we also want Nitish Kumar to clear the air.”

Meanwhile, Nitish attended the customary high tea function organised by Bihar Governor R V Arlekar at the Raj Bhavan. Deputy CM Tejashwi Prasad Yadav skipped the function. In a message to the Opposition INDIA alliance, JD(U) state president Umesh Kushwaha told reporters, “Though we are still with the INDIA bloc, it should reflect on why things are going wrong.”