All is not well between the Nitish Kumar-led Janata Dal (United) and the BJP. The Bihar Chief Minister’s decision to skip Sunday’s Niti Aayog meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the latest in a series of snubs, has further fuelled speculation that two NDA allies may be headed for a split.
Significantly, Nitish Kumar has been giving the cold shoulder to the BJP for a few months now. The Nitish Aayog meet was the fourth meeting since July 17 called by the Union government that the JD(U) chief has stayed away from.
Nitish Kumar’s differences with the ruling BJP throw up several questions: will the NDA regime in Bihar collapse before August 11, and will the JD(U) join hands with former ally RJD to form the government?
According to sources, the JD(U)-BJP alliance in Bihar is on the verge of falling apart. As most JD(U) MLAs are averse to mid-term elections, the party is eyeing tie-ups with the RJD, Congress and the Left Front to retain its hold on power in the state, sources added.
GROWING RIFT BETWEEN NITISH KUMAR AND BJP
Last month, on July 17, Nitish Kumar did not attend a meeting of all chief ministers called by Union Minister of Home Affairs Amit Shah.
Three days later, on July 22, Nitish Kumar skipped the swearing-in of NDA candidate Droupadi Murmu as President, despite backing her in the election.
Nitish Kumar was then called on to attend the Niti Aayog meeting on August 7 but he kept away. While there has been no official word on the reason behind his absence, sources close to the chief minister said he excused himself as he is still recovering from his bout of Covid, reported PTI.
RCP SINGH ADDS FUEL TO FIRE
Former Union Minister and former national president of the JD(U), RCP Singh, resigned from the party on Saturday after party leadership sought an explanation on corruption allegations against him.
In the political corridors of Bihar, it is well known that RCP Singh is on good terms with BJP leaders, while his relationship with Nitish Kumar has soured in recent months. When the Union cabinet was expanded last year, RCP Singh became a minister at the Centre without Kumar’s consent.
According to sources, Kumar and RCP Singh became further estranged after the JD(U) chief did not nominate him to the Rajya Sabha for the third time, and he had to resign from the Union cabinet.
JD(U) national president Rajiv Ranjan Singh (aka Lalan Singh) hinted that the BJP was trying to engineer a split in his party, similar to what happened in the Lok Janshakti Party, which cleaved into two factions led by Chirag Paswan and his uncle Union minister Pashupati Paras.
“Some people wanted to use Chirag Paswan model of 2020 once again in Bihar but Nitish Kumar caught this conspiracy. RCP Singh’s body was in Janata Dal United but his mind was elsewhere,” said Lalan Singh.
NITISH KUMAR CALLS KEY MEETING
In the midst of the political turmoil in Bihar, sources said Nitish Kumar has called a meeting of all party MPs and MLAs in Patna on Tuesday, August 9. However, Lalan Singh has denied the reports. He has also asserted that “all is well” with ally BJP.
RJD MPs and MLAs have been asked to gather in Patna for a key meeting on Tuesday. The members of Parliament, who are in Delhi for the Monsoon session, are expected to arrive in Patna by this evening.
Meanwhile, the Hindustani Awam Morcha led by former Bihar CM Jitan Ram Manjhi, another ally of the NDA, has also called a meeting of all its MLAs on August 9 to reportedly discuss the current political scenario in the state.
DID NITISH KUMAR DIAL SONIA GANDHI?
Amid reports that Nitish Kumar reached out to Congress leadership about the changing political situation in the state, Congress sources have denied that the Bihar CM spoke directly over the phone to party president Sonia Gandhi.
Meanwhile, the Bihar unit of the Congress is likely to hold a legislative party meet tomorrow.
RJD WARMING UP TO NITISH?
Meanwhile, the Rashtriya Janata Dal has also softened its stand on Nitish Kumar and barred all its spokespersons from making statements against him. It is believed that Nitish Kumar and Leader of Opposition Tejashwi Yadav are in touch with each other and there is speculation that both may try to form the government in Bihar before August 11.
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