Whatever you may think of Nitish Kumar and his politics, one thing that he knows very well is to stay in power. Kumar, who broke his alliance with the BJP and rejoined hands with the RJD, will take oath as the Chief Minister of Bihar for a record 8th time on Wednesday (August 10).
Kumar broke ranks with the NDA coalition on Tuesday to stake claim as head of the rival 'Mahagathbandhan' (Grand Alliance) to be the CM of Bihar again. He also submitted a list of 164 MLAs to Governor Phagu Chauhan. The effective strength of the state assembly is 242 and the magic figure is 122.
RJD's leader Tejashwi Yadav will be the Deputy Chief Minister and the new Cabinet will also have representatives from the RJD and Congress, while the Left parties are likely to give outside support to the new government.
Why he decided to break alliance with BJP: After weeks of tensions between the JD(U) and the BJP, Kumar on Tuesday decided to break the alliance. "It was decided at the party meeting that we quit the NDA. I have, therefore, resigned as the NDA's CM," Kumar said.
While there have been a lot of disagreements between the parties over issues like caste census, Agnipath scheme for armed forces and population control, the continuation of RCP Singh as a central Cabinet minister might have played a big role in Kumar leaving the alliance.
Singh was made a Cabinet minister at the Centre without Kumar's explicit agreement and when his Rajya Sabha term ended, the JD(U) refused to give him another term as an MP.
The CM reportedly told party leaders that he had been driven against the wall by the BJP, which first tried to weaken JD(U), first by propping up Chirag Paswan's rebellion and later through the party's former national president RCP Singh, reported PTI.
Nitish Kumar's political journey: Kumar had started out as an engineer in the Bihar Electricity Board and later joined politics under the support of socialist leader Ram Manohar Lohia. He also participated in the JP movement in the 1970s.
In 1989, Kumar supported Janata Dal and backed Lalu Prasad Yadav as leader of the Opposition in Bihar assembly. But, in 1994, he and George Fernandes started the Samata Party. He joined hands with the BJP in 1996 and became a minister in Atal Bihari Vajpayee's Cabinet.
In 2000, he served as the CM of Bihar for a week as the NDA and allies had only 151 seats. RJD on the other hand had 159 seats. Both fell short of the required 163 mark. In 2003, Nitish Kumar's Samata Party merged with Janata Dal of Sharad Yadav and later in the year, the Janata Dal (United) was formed. In 2005, JD(U) came back to power in Bihar after forming an alliance with BJP.
In 2010, JD(U) again came to power with BJP as its ally and Kumar became the CM. In 2013, JD(U) ended its alliance with the BJP. Kumar won a trust vote with support from Congress but he resigned in 2014. But, within a year, he became the CM again with support from the RJD and the Congress.
The Mahagathbandhan won the assembly polls in 2015. But, two years later, the alliance collapsed after deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav's name came up in a money laundering case. However, Kumar again retained power as he got support from the BJP.
In 2020, Kumar fought the election in alliance with BJP and won with a small margin to take oath as the CM for the 7th time. RJD emerged as the single-largest party with 75 seats but the BJP (74) and JD(U) reached the majority mark.
PM ambitions? After he broke ties with the BJP, many were seeing this move as him projecting himself as a PM candidate for 2024. He may be a strong candidate considering his long experience as Bihar CM but many in the Opposition will still be wary of his U-turns.
"If you assess the personalities in the country, Nitish Kumar is eligible to become PM. We are not making any claim today, but he has all the qualities of a prime minister," PTI reported JD(U) leader Upendra Kushwaha as saying.
Shiv Sena leader Priyanka Chaturvedi said Kumar's political career has been spotless as far as allegations of corruption are concerned, but one thing that goes against him is the number of times he has changed political allies, reported PTI.