BJP pushed out of power in India’s Bihar

Nitish Kumar. Photo: Reuters

The Bharatiya Janata Party was today pushed out of power in the key eastern Indian state of Bihar when its five-year-old ally Janata Dal (United) led by chief minister Nitish Kumar parted ways and joined hands with anti-BJP forces Lalu Prasad Yadav-headed Rashtriya Janata Dal and Congress.

Nitish (71) took the oath as the chief minister this afternoon a day after he resigned from the top post, leaving the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government and formed a new government hours later with the RJD, the Congress and other parties, reports our New Delhi correspondent.

RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, 33-year-old son of ailing Lalu, was sworn in as deputy chief minister. The cabinet expansion will take place after August 15, reports said.

This is the second time Tejashwi became Bihar deputy chief minister after occupying the post in 2015.

Soon after he was sworn in today, Nitish, the longest-serving chief minister of any Hindi-speaking state, said JD(U) had collectively decided to exit the alliance with BJP.

BJP leader of Bihar, Sushil Kumar Modi, has claimed the new government will fall before completing its term in 2025.

The former deputy chief minister told reporters in Patna, capital city of Bihar, that Kumar will "ditch the RJD and try to split it, taking advantage of RJD boss Lalu Prasad's illness."

An electrical engineer by qualification, Nitish, a socialist leader by origin and coming from an extremely backward caste Kurmi, led the Janata Dal (U)-BJP coalition from 2010 before he snapped ties with the saffron party in 2013.

But in 2014, Nitish resigned as chief minister following his party's drubbing in parliamentary elections in May 2014. In 2015, Nitish joined hands with RJD and Congress and won an emphatic victory in Bihar assembly polls. Two years later in 2017 Nitish ditched RJD citing "corruption" by Tejashwi and returned to the alliance led by BJP.

In the last assembly elections in Bihar in 2020, Nitish's party in coalition with BJP returned to power even though Janata Dal (U) finished as the third largest party with just 45 seats in the 243-member state assembly. BJP got 74 seats, one less than RJD in 2020 poll, but allowed Nitish to be chief minister.

Since 2015, Nitish has earned for himself the formidable reputation of a pragmatist politician without ideological baggage and always ready to engineer new alliances that keeps him on the right of power at least at the state-level.


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