IT was Bihar-talk all the way in Parliament on Thursday. As Nitish Kumar got a sworn-in as the chief minister with BJP support in less than 24 hours after he resigned, he earned the sobriquet ‘CM-portability’.
The result of 2019 parliamentary polls, most BJP MPs felt, was now a foregone conclusion.
The other BJP ally from Bihar, food minister Ram Vilas Paswan declared: “No vacancy for the PM post till 2024’’—implying Narendra Modi will continue unchallenged. A senior BJP minister from Bihar was more nuanced. “Nitish’s return’’, he said, would enhance his own image and also the BJP’s. “Nitish may not have a base like Lalu, but he is a brand - for corruption-free good governance, which is our slogan!’’ So, it was made-for-each-other match.
Not everyone spoke in superlatives though. A section within the JD-U was of the view that Nitish is caught between the devil and the deep sea, and he has taken the plunge, apparently for “good of Bihar’’. But, politically both the JD-U and Nitish “were more or less on the last legs’’, was the unanimous verdict.
Rumblings within JD-U
The same sentiments prevailed in the JD-U camp in Delhi. MP Veerendra Kumar, who heads JD-U Kerala unit, openly opposed Nitish Kumar’s decision to align with the BJP. He said he was shocked and was even considering resigning his Rajya Sabha seat. Another JD-U Rajya Sabha member Anwar Ali too threatened to resign from RS and the party.
Sharad in a sulk
The political realignment of JD-U has come as big face loss for its former chief Sharad Yadav. In protest mode, he not only met Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi but also called a meeting of JD-U MPs at his residence. Not denying that Yadav was in a deep sulk, Jaitley said that he was confident it was temporary. “He’s my good old friend, I’ll convince him,” Jaitley added. Sources close to Yadav claimed that he was bothered about the Muslim-Yadav MLAs who got elected on JD-U tickets, may split the party.
Which party will break?
There was a betting on which party will break-JD-U, RJD or the Congress. Nitish Kumar in alliance with the BJP has a wafer thin margin in the Bihar assembly-just seven more than a simple majority. The buzz was that Congress being the smallest party, may fall prey. Ashok Choudhury, the Gathbandan’s education minister, claimed that their 27 MLAs were united.