A starring role in this crisis is that of RCP Singh, who quit Nitish Kumar’s party on Saturday evening.Patna:
The long-standing conflict between Nitish Kumar and the BJP has reached an off-the-charts scale. Sniping at each other is par for the course since they got together in 2017. But for the first time, there is a very real and present danger. Here are the 10 latest developments on this big story:Nitish Kumar’s party, the Janata Dal (United), has accused the BJP of two major conspiracies to weaken the Chief Minister’s hold over his party. The condemnation was issued less than 24 hours ago by Rajiv Ranjan Singh aka Lalan Singh, who is the president of the JDU. Lalan Singh says that last year, at the time of the general election, the BJP deployed the “Chirag model” to ensure that Nitish Kumar’s votes were split and this led to his party winning just 43 of the state’s 243 parliamentary seats. This meant that Nitish Kumar was relegated to the status of junior partner in the alliance, a position he has not been able to make peace with.The new remarks by his party are so acrimonious that back-channel negotiators will find their workload fairly heavy. In an attempt at a rapprochement, representatives of the BJP led by Tarkishore Prasad, the Deputy Chief Minister, met with Vijay Kumar Choudhary, a senior minister and close aide of Nitish Kumar, last evening.Sources close to the Chief Minister say he’s not in any mood to be placated; tomorrow, he will meet with all his MLAs or legislators to decide on what happens next. An early reading has reportedly convinced him that MLAs are not willing to face mid-term elections and would prefer a new alliance over that prospect. Tejashwi Yadav, the leader of the Opposition party the Rashtriya Janata Dal or RJD, is reportedly ready to offer support to Nitish Kumar should he dump the BJP. The RJD is the single-largest party in Bihar now. The combined strength of the RJD, the Chief Minister’s JDU, and the Congress, is large enough to form the government.Nitish Kumar’s anger, say sources close to him, rests mainly in what he perceives as a concerted attempt by Union Minister Amit Shah to “remote control” Bihar. To register his protest, Nitish Kumar has skipped several key meetings called by Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Yesterday was the most recent of these boycotts – he did not attend the PM’s meeting with all Chief Ministers, claiming to be unwell, but was present at two government functions in Patna. A starring role in this crisis is that of RCP Singh, who quit Nitish Kumar’s party on Saturday evening. He was a Rajya Sabha MP and a union minister, but Nitish Kumar came to see him as a proxy for Amit Shah, and on the weekend, RCP Singh was accused by his own party, the JDU, of rampant corruption. In preceding months, he was refused an extension of his Rajya Sabha seat, which meant he had to resign as a union minister. Nitish Kumar has these key demands for the BJP: more union ministries (his party had been allocated one, which was given to RCP Singh) and that elections for Bihar be held along with the next general election in 2024 (instead of a year later). In an attempt to make good, Amit Shah in a recent trip to Patna said that Nitish Kumar would be the face of their alliance in the next state election; rebuffing that gesture, yesterday, Lalan Singh of the JDU said any plans for the next election remain undecided.The BJP and Nitish Kumar held a decades-long alliance till 2013 when the latter opted to team with the Congress and the RJD ( led then by Lalu Yadav and now by Lalu’s son, Tejashwi). However, a huge disconnect between Lalu’s sons, who were ministers, and Nitish Kumar led to him ending the alliance after the young leaders were accused of corruption. Nitish Kumar then rebraided his party with the BJP.Nitish Kumar will deliberate on whether, in the next general election, he can take on PM Modi in Bihar at a time when the PM’s approval ratings are seen as immensely high. He is also concerned about whether the BJP, under Amit Shah, is moving quickly to diminish his stature as a regional leader; the Maharashtra example, which saw Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray forced out as Chief Minister, is playing on his mind, said sources.