Nitish Kumar ditches INDIA bloc, goes back to BJP


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PATNA, Jan 28
Nitish Kumar took oath today as the Chief Minister of Bihar for a record ninth time, at the head of a fresh Government formed in partnership with the BJP.
Mr Kumar is replacing his Ministers from the Rash-triya Janata Dal with those from the BJP and party leaders Samrat Chowdhury, Vijay Sinha and several others also took oath along with him at the Raj Bhavan this afternoon.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated the new Governmnet with a post on X, formerly Twitter.
"The NDA Government formed in Bihar will leave no stone unturned for the development of the State and to fulfill the aspirations of its people. I congratulate @NitishKumar as Chief Minister and Samrat Chaudhary ji and Vijay Sinha ji on taking oath as Deputy Chief Ministers. I am confident that this team will serve my family members of the State with full dedication," read a rough translation of his post.
This is also the fifth time in a decade the 72-year-old has changed camp -- the frequency of the process having earned him the pejorative "Paltu Kumar".
Mr Kumar had parted company with the BJP last in 2022. At the time, the Chief Minister was concerned that the BJP could engineer a split in his Janata Dal United as they did in Maharashtra with the Shiv Sena.
While joining the NDA fold again today, he cited his disappointment with the Opposition bloc, saying though he got the front up and running, very little was being done by the others.
"The new Grand Alliance that we created (in August 2022) is not in a good condition. The situation is not looking good," he said.
"I have been working hard to make a successful, meaningful (INDIA) alliance, but no one else (in the alliance) has been doing anything... Gathbandhan main bhi gadbad chal rahan hai (something is wrong in the alliance). People are not happy," he had told reporters.
Sources, though,  said Mr Kumar has been upset over the lack of clarity in INDIA bloc's poll preparations and being passed over as a possible Prime Ministerial candidate. The delays to seat-sharing talks for the Lok Sabha polls had been a further aggravation.
Mr Kumar met Bihar Governor Rajendra Arlekar this morning and handed over his resignation. The Governor has asked Mr Kumar to continue as caretaker Chief Minister till a new government is in place. Later in the day, he submitted a letter of support from BJP legislators. The Governor has accepted the letter and Mr Kumar is set to return as Chief Minister for the ninth time.
"I have resigned as Chief Minister and ended this government. I was getting suggestions from all around. I had quit an earlier alliance for a new tie-up. But the situation was not okay. So I have resigned," he told reporters shortly after putting in his papers.  
Mr Kumar said he took the decision following suggestions by his party members. "I was facing difficulties in working with this alliance. When I explained this to party members, they advised me to resign," he said.
He also referred to the INDIA alliance and how things were not moving. "I got an alliance forged, but nobody was doing anything," he said, in an apparent reference to the Opposition bloc that aims to take on the BJP in the Lok Sabha polls this year. Mr Kumar was one of the Opposition leaders at the forefront of forging the INDIA bloc. His resignation comes as a massive setback to the Opposition bloc, months before it takes on the formidable BJP in the Lok Sabha polls.
In his first remarks after resignation, Mr Kumar also referred to a credit contest, apparently a swipe at his estranged ally, RJD. "People were claiming that they are doing all the work," Mr Kumar said. A political career that started with taking on the Indira Gandhi government during the Emergency years, Mr Kumar had gained a reputation as a model of good governance in his earlier terms that came right after the corruption-tainted era of the RJD. Over the past decade, his repeated jumps across the political aisle have hit his popularity and his party JDU's electoral weight.
The BJP, which had last year said its doors have closed for Mr Kumar forever, has now joined hands with him again. BJP MLAs and state leaders held a meeting this morning, shortly before Mr Kumar reached the Raj Bhavan. BJP general secretary Vinod Tawde said. "All BJP MLAs have unanimously backed the proposal to form a BJP-JDU govt again for the  welfare of the people of Bihar." Mr Tawde said Bihar BJP president Samrat Choudhary has been chosen as the leader of the party in Assembly.  Vijay Sinha, he said, would be the BJP's deputy leader in the House. According to the BJP sources, both Mr Choudhary and Mr Sinha may be sworn in as Deputy Chief Ministers to Mr Kumar, set for his ninth term in the top post.
The new govt, sources said, will have ministers from JDU, BJP and former CM Jitan Ram Manjhi's Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular). Eight ministers will take oath with Nitish Kumar. These include BJP's two Deputy CMs, BJP's Dr Prem Kumar, JDU's Vijay Kumar Chaudhary, Bijendra Prasad Yadav and Shravan Kumar, HAM's Santosh Kumar Suman and Independent MLA Sumit Kumar Singh. Soon after Mr Kumar's resignation, Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge said he knew this would happen. In a swipe, he added that many people in the country are like 'Aaya Ram-Gaya Ram'. NDTV