Political circles here were abuzz with speculation of Nitish being sworn in as chief minister for a record ninth time, but constitutional experts pointed out that he is not required to go through the motion of resigning and resuming, and can forge a fresh coalition by sacking RJD ministers and replacing them with those from BJP, which is on board.
Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) of former CM Jitan Ram Manjhi, with four MLAs, pledged its support to NDA; this will ensure the about-to-be stitched ruling combine has a majority in the 243-strong assembly and can accomplish the immediate objective of bringing in a Speaker, most probably from BJP, to replace RJD’s Avadh Bihari Chaudhary.
Nitish will meet his party MLAs Sunday morning followed by a joint meeting of NDA legislators and MPs, most probably at his residence, before either submitting his resignation or dismissing the RJD ministers and submitting a fresh letter of support from BJP and HAM(S) to the governor. “The governor might invite him to take oath in the evening itself. Let us see how things unfold in the morning,” a source close to the developments said.
Bihar CM Nitish Kumar to join NDA alliance again?
BJP may have two deputy CMs, one of them a woman. Unlike the last time, there is a possibility of the second slot going to someone from the “upper castes”, sources said.
BJP MLAs and MPs went into a huddle on Saturday, and are to meet again Sunday morning before gathering at the CM’s residence, bringing the curtains down on the Grand Alliance government in Bihar, sources said.
Don’t have any information on JDU moving out of INDIA: Mallikarjun Kharge
The appointment of new ministers would cap the fast-paced developments, which started unspooling with the dramatic ouster of Rajiv Ranjan Singh Lallan as JD(U) chief (he was instrumental in forging the coalition with RJD), late last month and have since appeared to have gained inexorable momentum.
JD(U) sources said the dramatic turn was prompted by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s condescending language at the last INDIA bloc meeting where he purportedly contradicted Sonia Gandhi to say that an announcement regarding Nitish’s appointment as convenor of the the opposition bloc would have to wait until it was okayed by TMC chief Mamata Banerjee.
The Bihar CM, who took the initiative to forge the opposition alliance only to find himself being sidelined, had already turned down the offer because of Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge’s appointment as president of the INDIA combine. He felt Rahul’s remarks were “insulting”. Efforts by Congress functionaries, Kharge included, and CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury, failed to mollify him.
A tip-off about an alleged effort by RJD to cause JD(U) MLAs to defect turned out to be the proverbial straw on the camel’s back.
BJP, which had publicly announced that it had slammed the doors shut on yet another rapprochement with Nitish, was initially cold to overtures from JD(U) for a revival of their alliance. A rethink was prompted by the considerations of maximising returns from Bihar in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, weakening the INDIA bloc and throwing a wrench in Congress’s effort to counter Hindutva by playing the caste card.
The sudden turn of events is a blow to the ambition of Lalu Prasad, disqualified from contesting elections after multiple convictions in criminal cases, to install his younger son, Tejashwi, as CM before the 2025 assembly polls.
In fact, Saturday was a double whammy for Lalu with his party on the verge of being deprived of office in Bihar and a Delhi court summoning his wife, former CM Rabri Devi, and their daughters Misa Bharti and Hema Yadav on Feb 9, while taking cognisance of Enforcement Directorate’s chargesheet against them in the land-for-jobs scam in the railways.
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