Patna: In a significant development, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi today and pledged to remain with the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). This comes after his abrupt switch from the Mahagathbandhan alliance and return to the NDA in late January.
The Janata Dal (United) leader had joined hands with the BJP again on January 28, after severing ties with the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Mahagathbandhan (grand alliance) which was then in power in the State. This was Mr. Kumar’s second political U-turn in two years and his fifth switch in loyalties over the last decade. He then took oath as the State’s Chief Minister for the ninth time, along with two Deputy CMs from the BJP and six Ministers. On February 12, the new NDA government will seek a vote of confidence in the State Assembly.
No More U-Turns: Addressing the media after the meeting, Kumar declared, "Ab idhar-udhar jaane ki baat nahi hai. Ab yehi rahenge [Now, there is no need to go here and there. Now, I will remain here]." This statement aims to dispel concerns about his past political maneuvers and signals a commitment to the NDA.
Seat-sharing talks later
On the question of seat-sharing arrangements for the upcoming Lok Sabha poll, Mr. Kumar said, “These things will be discussed later.”
Out of Bihar’s 40 LS seats, the BJP and JD(U) had each contested 17 during the last election in 2019, leaving six seats for their other ally, the Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas). The BJP had then won all 17 of their seats, while the JD(U) had won 16 seats. This time round, both parties will find it hard to spare seats for each other, as their other two allies — the Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) led by former CM Jitan Ram Manjhi, and the Upendra Kushwaha-led Rashtriya Lok Janata Dal — will also have to be given some seats.
Seeking Special Package: The Chief Minister reportedly raised the demand for a special package for Bihar during the meeting. This package could encompass various development initiatives and financial assistance aimed at bolstering the state's economy.
Floor Test and Rajya Sabha Polls: With a floor test for his new government scheduled for February 12th, Kumar seeks to secure his position. Additionally, six Rajya Sabha seats from Bihar will be up for grabs on February 27th, making for another crucial political battleground.
Meeting BJP Veterans: Kumar is expected to meet senior BJP leader L.K. Advani to convey his congratulations on receiving the Bharat Ratna award. This move further underscores his efforts to solidify his alliance with the BJP.
Impact on Bihar Politics: Kumar's return to the NDA and his commitment to stability have significant implications for Bihar's political landscape. It remains to be seen how the Grand Alliance will respond and how seat-sharing negotiations within the NDA will unfold in the lead-up to the Lok Sabha elections.