Nitish Kumar had walked out of the 'Mahagathbandhan' coalition in 2017 to partner with the NDA. Today, he broke ties with the BJP a second time, resigning as Bihar CM; and is now on his way to helming a new government with RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav on board.
The Nitish Kumar-Lalu Yadav partnership is set to make a comeback in Bihar following the Janata Dal (United)’s decision to break ties with the BJP. Nitish Kumar met Governor Phagu Chauhan and resigned from his post as Bihar chief minister on August 9.
RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav and other Opposition leaders have sworn allegiance to the ruling coalition in Bihar. Around 160 MLAs of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the JD(U) are supporting Nitish Kumar’s claim to head a new government, Hindustan Times reported.
Nitish Kumar had walked out of the grand alliance or ‘Mahagathbandhan’ with RJD and Congress in 2017 to partner with the BJP.
In a political career spanning four decades, Nitish Kumar has changed partners several times. His move to turn on allies earned him the moniker ‘paltu Ram,’ (turncoat) a name that was given by his on-and-off ally Lalu Prasad.
Here’s a look at the key moments in his political career through the years:
Friends with Lalu
Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad Yadav were students when they met and joined Jayaprakash Narayan’s agitation. In those days, Nitish Kumar referred to Lalu as his ‘bade bhai’ (elder brother). Nitish Kumar was elected to the state Assembly in 1985. In 1989, he backed Lalu to become the leader of the Opposition in the Assembly. The following year, Lalu Prasad became the Bihar CM and Nitish Kumar played a key role in his success.
Those who knew both the leaders back in those days say Lalu always sought the advice of Nitish before taking any major political or administrative decision, The Times of India
However, Nitish Kumar rebelled against the CM in 1994 and partnered veteran socialist leader George Fernandes to form the Samata Party. In 2003, the Samata Party merged with Sharad Yadav-led Janata Dal (United).
Allies with BJP
After ending the alliance with Lalu, Nitish Kumar switched loyalty to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 1998. He served in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government in various capacities between 1998 and 2004 under the leadership of then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
In March 2000, the JD(U)-BJP alliance helped Nitish Kumar become the Bihar CM for the first time. However, his stint was short-lived as the NDA and its allies had 151 MLAs, less than the majority mark of 163. In 2005, he took oath for the second time as CM and completed his term. With the BJP as its coalition partner, Nitish Kumar returned to power in 2010. However, in 2013, the BJP-JD(U) alliance crumbled following then Gujarat CM Narendra Modi’s appointment as the chairman of the BJP’s Lok Sabha election campaign committee.
Back then, Nitish Kumar had said the NDA should have a leader with a “clean and secular image.”
In the 2014 general elections, Nitish Kumar went solo in Bihar and managed to get only two of the 40 Lok Sabha seats. He resigned, taking moral responsibility for his party’s poor performance at the Lok Sabha elections.
The following year, Nitish Kumar allied with Lalu Prasad Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Congress to form the Mahagathbandhan, which won the elections and brought him back as the CM.
In July 2017, he resigned after corruption charges were levelled against deputy CM and RJD leader Tejashwi Prasad Yadav. This brought an end to the Grand Alliance.
Back in power
Nitish Kumar came back to power within a few hours of his resignation after he joined the principal Opposition, the NDA.
RJD supremo Lalu had, however, held Nitish Kumar responsible for the disintegration of the Grand Alliance.
“Tejashwi was just an excuse... Match was fixed between him and BJP to form a government together,” PTI had quoted Lalu as saying back then.
Lalu accused Kumar of being an “opportunist” politician and a “paltu Ram.”
“Everybody knows that in your (Nitish’s) political career you took help of so many people and deserted many,” he had said.
Ties with NDA
Cracks with the NDA started appearing before the 2020 Assembly polls when the BJP started to rethink its decision to field Nitish Kumar as the chief ministerial candidate again. Even though the alliance won the elections, they continued to have differences in opinion on multiple issues, which finally brought an end to the alliance today.