It is believed to have been indicated to the JD(U) by the Congress that Mamata Banerjee may have a problem with Nitish Kumar being appointed as the convener. (PTI/File)
Nitish Kumar’s latest statement on dynasty politics, which seemed to be an attack on his ally RJD, and his public gratitude towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a Bharat Ratna to socialist icon Karpoori Thakur have been clear indicators that the JD(U) chief and Bihar CM is keen to return to the BJP fold
For months, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had aimed to become the face of the INDIA bloc as its convener. But it is the dilly-dallying by the Congress over the same and a perceived ‘insult’ of Kumar at the last INDIA meeting that may have proved to be the proverbial last straw for him to now contemplate jump ship to the BJP, sources say.
It is believed to have been indicated to the JD(U) by the Congress that Mamata Banerjee may have a problem with Nitish Kumar being appointed as the convener and she needs to be on board for the same, and that AAP’s Arvind Kejriwal may be needed to convince her. This is seemed to have irritated Kumar so much that he told Congress that they might as well opt for Lalu Prasad Yadav as the convener, and JD(U) rejected the proposition of Kumar being made the convener.
The JD(U) has also had an issue with the importance being given in the INDIA bloc to certain leaders, like Sitaram Yechury and Mallikarjun Kharge, over the likes of Kumar who has been a multiple-time Chief Minister. Yechury, for example, once is said to have spoken right after Sonia Gandhi at the INDIA meetings.
The JD(U) camp also believes that it has been too late already for the appointment of the convener and the same has become redundant, as by now the seat-sharing talks should have been concluded ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. Kumar has been expressing his reservations on the issue, saying the Congress has been busy in state elections at a time when INDIA partners should have been proceedings on seat-sharing talks.
Kumar also has a grouse that though he played the key role of bringing tricky allies like Mamata Banerjee and Arvind Kejriwal on the same table as the Congress, he was not given his due. Kumar’s ambition of a national role is his priority but the Congress is not keen on it, the JD(U) camp feels.
Kumar’s latest statement on dynasty politics, which seemed to be an attack on his ally RJD, and his public gratitude towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a Bharat Ratna to socialist icon Karpoori Thakur have been clear indicators that Kumar is keen to return to the BJP fold. Meetings between Kumar and Lalu Prasad have been few and far between and the latest one on January 15, when Kumar drove down to Lalu’s residence for just 10 minutes, came after a long gap of three months.
With the central role under INDIA being in doubt, Kumar is not keen to hand over the CM’s chair to Tejashwi Yadav as the latter’s father Lalu Prasad Yadav wants. The BJP and the JD(U) have been old partners and despite acrimony since their last split, Kumar knows his party can notch up a good tally in Lok Sabha in Bihar if it allies with the BJP.
The JD(U) had won 16 Lok Sabha seats in alliance with the BJP in 2019, while it won two seats in 2014 when it had contested separately from the BJP.
So will Nitish Kumar do another political palti now, his fourth in the last 10 years? Would the BJP want its own Chief Minister even if it ties up again with Nitish Kumar? We will know by weekend.