Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar will sack ministers belonging to alliance partner and Lalu Yadav’s party Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) tomorrow, sources told NDTV today.
The BJP and Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United), or JD(U), have also finalised a seat-sharing agreement for the Lok Sabha election due in three months.
All BJP MLAs in Bihar have already given letters of support to Nitish Kumar, sources have said.
These developments indicate the JD(U) chief – who dumped the BJP to join the Mahagathbandhan or Grand Alliance in August 2022 – has crossed the point of no return in running the alliance government with the RJD and the Congress.
Nitish Kumar, 72, is in direct talks with Home Minister Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to work out the fine details of his latest coup, sources said.
The Bihar Chief Minister will host a lunch tomorrow of JD(U) and BJP MLAs at his home, after which the MLAs of both the parties will go to the Governor to give their letters of support, sources said.
Nitish Kumar is likely to replace the sacked ministers from the RJD with BJP faces, sources said. He will have a major say in selecting a new Deputy Chief Minister, they said, alluding to the possible exit of Nitish Kumar’s current deputy and Lalu Yadav’s son Tejashwi Yadav.
In the medium term, after 2025, Nitish Kumar may get a high-profile role in the Centre, sources said.
Former Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, who is a Rajya Sabha MP from the BJP, is Nitish Kumar’s choice for his deputy again, sources said.
The Bihar crisis also comes at a delicate time for the newly formed Opposition bloc INDIA, whose members the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Punjab and Haryana, and the Trinamool Congress in West Bengal have declined to share seats with the Congress in the Lok Sabha election.
Nitish Kumar has jumped between the BJP, Congress, and RLD since 2013 so much so that he has acquired the moniker ‘Paltu Ram’. After parting ways with the BJP in 2022, he had taken on the initiative of uniting all Opposition forces to jointly take on PM Modi in this year’s general election.
According to leaders close to the 72-year-old, the January 13 meeting of the INDIA alliance was the turning point. In that meeting, Nitish Kumar’s name was proposed as convenor by Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury and endorsed by almost all leaders, including Lalu Yadav and Sharad Pawar.
However, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi interjected and said a decision on this would have to wait as Trinamool Congress leader and Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had reservations over Nitish Kumar for the role.