The Curious Case of Resignation and Re-Election of Nitish Kumar

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Recently, there was a great upheaval in the political situation in Bihar due to the announcement of an alliance of Nitish Kumar and BJP. On July 26, 2017, the Chief Minister of Bihar, Nitish Kumar resigned from his post but with the BJP’s support, he was reinstated as the Chief Minister at 5:00 P.M. on the same day. He ended the 20-month old coalition of JD[U], RJD and Congress which had helped him defeat BJP in the last State Legislative Assembly elections. The Governor of Bihar opined that he cannot work in the current political situation of Bihar but did not say anything about the alliance in the working of the Bihar government in future. Nitish Kumar gave reasons for his resignation in the manner that he was trying his level best to have good governance in Bihar but the situations like corruption allegations against Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav were not letting him do the same.

Aftermath of the Resignation

Following the resignation, the future of Mahagatbandhan is in question. The Congress has already started lamenting this action and RJD has accused him of fooling the citizens of Bihar. Soon after the resignation, the Prime Minister of India congratulated Nitish Kumar for joining the “fight against corruption” by quitting the coalition of JD-U, RJD and Congress. Lalu Prasad Yadav accused Nitish Kumar of murder dating back to 1990s under Section 302 under the Indian Penal Code. He might have been one of India’s CM accused in arms’ and murder case.  BJP was the mastermind behind everything as per Yadav. Everyone knows that Nitish Kumar is aligned towards BJP  since beginning.

The Senior Bihar BJP leader Sushil Modi held in the press conference that the BJP would support the current move by Nitish Kumar. The BJP and JD[U] members are going to meet Governor in order to elect Nitish Kumar as their Chief Minister. JD(U) sources have been indicating that Nitish is in no mood to compromise on corruption issues and is not likely to strike any bargain with RJD over the matter. He is also not happy with Congress’s (also part of the Bihar Mahagathbandhan) tacit support to Lalu and his family over corruption allegations. The Opposition BJP has made it clear that it would take up Tejashwi’s benami property and shell company charges in a big way and corner the Nitish government in the upcoming Monsoon session of the Bihar Assembly. He is known for resigning if he is placed in adverse situations. He resigned as a railway minister after the Gaisal train accident in 1999, then as chief minister when he couldn’t muster majority support in 2005, and again in May 2014, when JD(U) badly lost the parliamentary election. The 243-member Bihar Assembly has 80 MLAs from RJD, 71 from JD(U), 27 from Congress, 53 from BJP. Even if the RJD get the support of Congress it will be 15 short of the halfway mark. Meanwhile, the state unit of BJP has already declared that if needed it would extend outside support to Nitish.

The Governor of Bihar heavily criticised

Keshari Nath Tripathi, the governor of Bihar, has been questioned on his past records. The Governor’s discretion to analyse the possibilities of formation of Government thereby bypassing the calling of the single largest party to form the government has been questioned. The Governor of Bihar has been the Speaker of Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly, where due to his controversial interpretation of the Anti-Defection law, gave a chance to Kalyan Singh to manage the BSP MLAs and offer them seats. While acting as the Governor of Bihar, he gave more than required time to JDU rebel Jitan Ram Manjhi to gather support from different areas of Bihar.  Therefore, the Chief Minister of Bihar, Nitish Kumar has criticised the role of Tripathi as the Governor of Bihar.

The Alliance

The alliance can be seen from three different angles. Firstly, the consolidation of the Muslim vote in future might be in favour of RJD considering the present position of Nitish Kumar. Nitish might need Lalu to get all the base votes as the intention of BJP will be to demolish JD[U] from the bottom.  Now some of the Lalu’s supporters are forecasting that the alliance will lead Lalu to come back in power as the party will be having better bargaining opportunities. But people are scared of the diminishing political image of Lalu Prasad Yadav as a leader. Coming to Nitish Kumar, it is being apprehended that there may be a fall in JD[U] due to overruling of every disagreements among the party members by Nitish Kumar. People are also scared of the role of Modi-Shah duo both inside and outside the party.   BJP might get a lot of clout due to the above alliance. There are high chances that BJP might leave Nitish Kumar to his own fate during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Considering the realities of politics in Bihar, there is a black spot on RJD’s role as a political party due to allegations of corruption on it. This strengthens the chances of RJD to keep itself in alliance with the JD[U]. The BJP has  felt that the RJD-JD[U] alliance is a nightmare   after its loss in 2015 State elections. Therefore, BJP might require JD[U] in fighting elections in Bihar. Coming to the Muslim vote, Nitish Kumar would still be having an upper hand as he has earned the same on his own. He has performed better than any other political parties in regards to any community, caste etc. Therefore there is a high probability of Nitish Kumar gaining power in both 2019 Lok Sabha elections as well as in 2021 Assembly elections. He may be able to keep BJP in its secondary position in Bihar.

The third possibility of the above alliance can be that Nitish Kumar will be able to keep a check on the pattern of work of BJP as he has a  strong persona unlike others who had joined hands with BJP earlier. BJP is strong enough from inside and outside of its political domain. It is really hard to shake the party. But critics of the political situation have opined that the Modi reign might face a great setback because of the opposition of the pattern of Modi’s working like ruling dictatorially through the demonetization measure. This opposition mainly comes from the parties allies.

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