New Delhi: Janata Dal (United) leader Nitish Kumar took oath as Bihar chief minister for the eighth time on Wednesday, barely 24 hours after he pulled out of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance and jumped ship to the Rashtriya Janata Dal-helmed ‘mahagathbandhan’ or grand alliance.
RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav also took oath – as the state’s deputy chief minister.
After the ceremony, Nitish Kumar said his party had made the decision together to leave the BJP. “Whether I will stay or not (till 2024)… they can say what they want, but I will not live in the year 2014,” Kumar said.
Kumar also threw a dare to the BJP, and said: “Those who came to power in 2014, will they be victorious in 2024? I would like all (Opposition) to be united for 2024. I am not a contender for any such post (the Prime Minister’s).”
Tejashwi’s mother and former Bihar chief minister Rabri Devi said this development was good for the people of Bihar. “I am happy, as is Bihar,” she said. Tejashwi’s brother Tej Pratap said they had come to power to work, “for the youth”.
After he left the BJP Tuesday – his second time since 2013 – Nitish Kumar presented a list of 164 MLAs to Governor Phagu Chauhan from seven secular parties, including the Congress.
The effective strength of the state Bihar Assembly is 242 and the majority figure 122.
Capping days-long of hushed speculation, Tuesday saw dramatic events unfold as MPs and MLAs of the Janata Dal (United) endorsed the decision to leave the BJP.
Armed with that mandate, Nitish Kumar met Governor Phagu Chauhan twice – first to submit his resignation and then to stake claim to the government with the support of secular party MLAs. RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav accompanied him the second time.
Later in the evening, Kumar put up a joint show with Yadav, who heads the single-largest party in Bihar.
Yadav attacked the BJP for trying to destroy parties with which it forms alliances. He added: “J.P. Nadda (BJP national president) said they would end regional parties. BJP only knows how to intimidate and buy people. None of us wanted the BJP’s agenda to succeed in Bihar. We all know Laluji stopped the ‘rath’ of Advaniji, and we will not relent at any cost.”
Differences between the JD (U) and the BJP became stark in recent times — in less than two years of forming the government in November, 2020.
At the same time, Nitish Kumar mended his relationship with the RJD, which he had partnered in government from 2015 to 2017 before going back to the BJP. In the 2020 state polls, Kumar led the NDA alliance, but his party got much less than the BJP’s tally.
JD (U) is the third ally to leave the BJP in the last three years, after the Shiv Sena and the Shiromani Akali Dal.