PATNA: It was on Wednesday that Nitish Kumar took oath as the Chief Minister of Bihar for the eighth time. But sources told The New Indian that the decision to snap ties with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in one of the most important states in the Hindi heartland started in June this year.
According to sources in the Janata Dal (United), Kumar was quite angry with his alliance partner, the BJP. A frustrated Kumar decided to call Congress interim chief Sonia Gandhi to take her view. The call, the source said, was made on June 1 after Sonia Gandhi tested positive for Covid.
“Nitish Kumar briefed Sonia Gandhi that he wanted a change in Bihar and needed her help,” the source said. “Sonia Gandhi gave her nod to the move and asked Nitish Kumar to speak to her son and former party president Rahul Gandhi,” the source added.
Meanwhile, sources also said before talking to the Congress leadership, Kumar had already spoken to Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav.
“But it was not only about the alliance; it was also about the Grand Alliance (Mahagathbandhan). Tejashwi Yadav himself called Rahul Gandhi and informed him about the development in the state,” sources said. “He told Rahul that Kumar was under tremendous pressure and that there appeared to be a significant difference between the JD (U) and the BJP,” they said.
“Tejashwi told the Gandhi scion that now there is no return. He insisted that, along with RJD and JD (U), Congress also needs to come along. Yadav also said that the BJP might try to poach MLAs of other parties,” sources said. Tejashwi also informed the Congress leader that he had already spoken to the Left parties about the latest developments.
Rahul gave a go-ahead to Tejashwi. He also asked the RJD leader to keep Congress Bihar in-charge Bhakta Charan Das in the loop. Das shared a cordial relationship with Kumar owing to their days in the Samata Party in the 1990s. Rahul also asked Das to keep party general secretary (organisations) KC Venugopal updated on every move.
With everything falling in place, Kumar officially took the big decision to sever ties with the BJP – five years after the two parties came together in 2017.
Kumar had forged an alliance with the Congress, the RJD and the Left parties ahead of the 2015 assembly elections. However, he decided to move out of the alliance two years later, in 2017. Interestingly, Kumar first formed the government in the state in 2005 with the help of the BJP. He snapped ties with the party in 2012.
Before parting ways with the Grand Alliance in 2017, Kumar had asked Rahul to hold a talk with Lalu Prasad Yadav’s family that he was facing issues in running the government.
“This indicated that Rahul Gandhi was having a good rapport with Nitish Kumar and it was the reason why Kumar asked Tejashwi to inform the Congress leader about the developments in the state,” a source said.
Nitish Kumar and Tejashwi Yadav ensured that the Mahagathbandhan had 164 seats in Bihar’s 243-member assembly.”It took the large-heartedness of both Nitish and Tejashwi to iron out their differences and cobble up the numbers to ensure the BJP had no chance for horse trading,” sources revealed.
Sources said that August 9 was chosen to announce the date of snapping ties with the BJP as well as the reformation of the Mahagathbandhan. It was also decided that Congress, rather than the RJD and JD(U), would announce the formation of a new government in Bihar.
Das told reporters about the new government in Bihar and then went directly to the residence of Rabri Devi, the former CM and wife of Lalu Prasad Yadav and mother of Tejashwi Yadav, along with party leader Shakeel Ahmed Khan.
After announcing the name of Nitish Kumar as the Chief Minister of Bihar, Das then asked Khan to keep the Congress flock together in support of RJD and JD(U).
Sources also said that with the reformation of a Mahagathbandhan government, the Congress felt that it had avenged the BJP’s game in Maharashtra, where they plotted the fall of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government.
Sources also revealed that the reformation of the Mahagathbandhan government is a message to the Hindi heartland that the BJP is far from being invincible. The alliance leaders feel that this is only a trial, the real game will begin in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.