Nitish Kumar's oath as Bihar CM today after switching allies
Janata Dal (United) leader Nitish Kumar is set to take oath as Bihar's chief minister for the eighth time on Wednesday. This comes a day after he ended the alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and announced a new "Grand Alliance" with the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and other opposition parties. RJD's Tejashwi Yadav will reportedly be sworn in as the deputy CM.
Why does this story matter?
Coalition partners in Bihar since 2017, the JD(U) and BJP were at loggerheads in the recent past due to numerous issues. Before breaking up with the BJP on Tuesday, Kumar skipped several meetings with BJP, signaling his disappointment with the saffron party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA). He was also reportedly unhappy about former Union minister and JD(U) leader RCP Singh's growing proximity with BJP.
What did Kumar say after resigning yesterday?
"I have resigned, I have informed all my MLAs," Kumar stated after the first meeting with Governor Phagu Chauhan to submit his resignation. He claimed the decision to leave the BJP—the second time in nine years—was based on input from his party's legislators. "Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance) of seven parties, one Independent will work closely," he said after his second meeting with Chauhan on Tuesday.
Surprise resignation and claim to form government without BJP
Kumar's announcements after meeting the Bihar governor twice on Tuesday surprised many. First, he resigned as the chief minister of the JD(U) and BJP coalition government in Bihar. Later, he went back to the governor, along with Yadav and other opposition party leaders, to request that they be invited to form the next government on the basis of their combined strength in the Assembly.
How did Yadav react?
Even as JD(U) legislators' meeting was underway on Tuesday, 32-year-old Yadav held a parallel session with the RJD MLAs, where it was agreed that they would support Kumar in forming a new government. It was later also agreed that Yadav would serve as Bihar's deputy CM. "The BJP betrays all its allies and intimidates others," Yadav had said at a news briefing with Kumar.
BJP accuses Kumar of betraying people's mandate
Meanwhile, the BJP has accused Kumar of "betraying the people's mandate" by changing coalition partners in the middle of the term. The BJP has also called for a statewide protest against Kumar's decision. It stated that Kumar's "established trait" was abandoning coalition partners and the people's mandate. Notably, Kumar faced criticism in past, too, for his readiness to compromise principles in exchange for power.
Kumar elected as 'Mahagathbandhan' leader
Kumar was also elected as the new head of Mahagathbandhan 2.0 on Tuesday. After meeting with the governor to tender his resignation, Kumar went to Yadav's mother and RJD leader Rabri Devi's residence in Patna. Later, Kumar and Yadav met with the governor to stake a claim to form the new government. "Let us forget what happened in 2017," Kumar reportedly told Yadav.
What prompted Kumar to part ways with the BJP?
One of the primary causes of Kumar's dissatisfaction with the BJP appears to be the NDA's minimal representation of the coalition members in the Union Cabinet. He had also voiced his displeasure with Bihar Assembly Speaker Vijay Kumar Sinha. However, the breakpoint is said to be RCP Singh's appointment as Union minister, who quit last week after the JD(U) issued a show-cause notice.