Bihar Political Crisis: Amid strong hints that the government may change in Bihar, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had a telephonic conversation with Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi. Meanwhile, the Left has also announced its support for the JD(U) if Nitish's government faces any trouble, after news broke of disagreements between NDA partners JD(U) and the saffron camp. While the CPIML(L), which is the largest Left party in Bihar with 12 MLAs, said that it “will extend a helping hand” if JD(U) were to ditch the BJP and set up or join a new coalition, the CPI(M) - the larger party nationally but with two legislators in the state – felt that “if a new alignment were to take place, it would be a positive development”. According to sources, the BJP is waiting for JD(U)'s move and has asked its leaders, workers and lawmakers not to comment on the current political situation in the state. Amid this, both parties will be holding meetings tomorrow to discuss a way forward as the alliance reaches in danger mode. However, those appearing to be in the know of things in both parties insisted that notwithstanding hectic political activity that continued till late Monday evening, a dramatic realignment was not on the agenda of the meetings that will commence simultaneously, right across the street from each other. "I do not see a crisis in the NDA. The chief minister held his Janta Durbar programme where so many BJP ministers were present. The meeting of JD(U) legislators has been called to discuss the fallout of the exit of a senior leader," state minister Vijay Kumar Chaudhary, one of the trusted aides of the Bihar CM, said, referring to the resignation of former JD(U) national president RCP Singh.
- We are not seeing any such possibility (of President's rule) in Bihar as of now. First, it should be decided as to what will happen. We'll take a decision as per Bihar's people's direction, said RJD Rajya Sabha MP Manoj Jha.
- CPIML (Liberation) general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya said, “we will extend a helping hand if the JD(U) breaks up with BJP” and a new government is set up. He pointed out that the party at its Gaya conference had made it “clear that to save the state from the BJP, we will take whatever steps are needed”.
- Taking a more cautious stance, Nilotpal Basu, politburo member of the CPI(M), said, “If a new alignment were to take place, it would be positive development … we would welcome if the influence of the BJP can be negated.”
- Basu, however, added that at the moment his party “was waiting and watching developments” and would not like to elaborate further on the hypothetical situation of JD(U) breaking up with the BJP.
- Ties between the two parties have frayed, after Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar skipped the Niti Aayog meeting, and his party the JD(U) on Sunday announced that that it will not send any representative to the central cabinet.
- This follows a series of disagreements between them over a host of issues including caste census, population control and the ‘Agnipath’ defence recruitment scheme.
- The CPIML (Liberation) won 12 out of the 16 seats which the Left parties managed to win in Bihar in the 2020 assembly elections, while the older and larger CPI(M) and CPI parties bagged two seats each.
- Bhattacharya said the row between JD(U) and BJP stems from the recent statement by JP Nadda, president of the saffron party, who said probably regional parties “have no future”.
- “Our belief is that the BJP will try and do a Maharashtra in Bihar and replace Nitish Kumar as chief minister before 2024 (if the NDA alliance in the state continues),” he said.
- The CPIML(L) leader added his belief stemmed from BJP’s history of breaking up and “gobbling smaller or regional parties” such as the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra and Vikasheel Insaan Party in Bihar.
- In March this year, all three MLAs of the VIP defected to the BJP, while a rebellion within Shiv Sena in June saw the government led by it fall to be replaced by a coalition led by Sena rebel Eknath Shinde.
- The ‘Mahagathbandhan’ (Grand Alliance) of which the Left parties, RJD and Congress are a part, had won 110 seats in the 2020 state elections with RJD securing 75 seats to be the largest party in the state.
- The BJP had bagged 74 seats out of the 125 seats won by the NDA, but with the defection of legislators from its ally VIP, the saffron party is now the single largest party in Bihar.
- However, in case the JD(U) severes ties with BJP and takes the help of the ‘Mahagathbandhan’, it can easily form a government in the politically important state.
Bihar is the most populous of the three north Indian states which also include Punjab and Jammu & Kashmir- where BJP has never had a chief minister from its ranks. It is also the only one which is part of the Hindi heartland and contributes 40 MPs to the Lok Sabha. In the 2019 general elections, BJP won 17 of its seats from the state, and is known to be looking for a larger share from Bihar.
(With inputs from PTI and IANS)