Will Nitish jump ship again or is he bargaining hard with BJP

Even after Amit Shah and JP Nadda's declaration that BJP will fight the upcoming assembly elections with Nitish at the helm, Nitish's political move and decisions seem to indicate his double-mindedness

Nitish government’s quick moves to accept both the demands of the RJD and pass a formal resolution to this effect has triggered speculations about changing political situation and alliance in the state ahead of the polls.

Nitish Kumar, Bihar chief minister and Janata Dal-United (JD-U) leader has emerged as a very interesting character in Bihar politics. One moment he shares the dais with BJP bigwig Amit Shah, strongly backing his ally’s Citizenship law (CAA) pitch, the next moment he holds closed-door meetings with the opposition leader and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Tejahswi Yadav.

Ahead of the upcoming Bihar assembly elections, Nitish’s moves have been highly unpredictable.

Even after Amit Shah and JP Nadda’s declaration that BJP will fight the upcoming assembly elections under Nitish’s leadership, the JD(U) leader’s political moves and decisions seem to indicate his double-mindedness giving an impression that he is sailing on two boats, simultaneously.

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Two politically significant resolutions were passed recently in the Bihar assembly; one against implementing the National Register for Citizens (NRC) and the National Population Register (NPR) in the current form, and the other favouring caste-based Census in 2021.

Both issues concern the BJP – a coalition partner in Nitish’s government.

With no formal announcement coming from the Centre regarding the nationwide implementation of the NRC, Bihar becoming the first NDA-ruled state to pass a formal resolution against it is a big move.

Related news: NRC will not be implemented in Bihar: CM Nitish Kumar

Prior to this, RJD was the only party protesting against the NRC besides demanding a caste-based census for the past five years. It was RJD chief Lalu Prasad who first raised this issue in July 2005 and staged a formal sit-in over the issue at Patna’s Gandhi maidan.

Given this background, Nitish government’s quick moves to accept both the demands of the RJD and pass a formal resolution to this effect has triggered speculations of a change of  political alliance in the state ahead of the polls.

The urgency with which both the resolutions were passed back-to-back is also a matter of debate and discussion.

The first resolution about NRC was passed on Tuesday (February 25), shortly after Tejashwi had met the CM in his official chamber in Bihar assembly.

Subsequently, on Wednesday evening, both the leaders met over tea in the chamber of the Assembly Speaker Vijay Kumar Chaudhary after which the resolution favouring caste-based Census was passed on Thursday.

Alleging that the resolutions were passed hastily, senior BJP legislator, Sachchidanand Rai said, “The government is passing the resolutions like a “chhapamar” (hit and run squad). It looks to be a might-is-right-like situation in the state.”

According to reports, none in the BJP were aware of the developments except Sushil Kumar Modi who was informed, that too in the last minute by the CM.

Prem Kumar, a BJP minister also claimed that the resolutions were passed keeping the BJP in the dark.

“The resolution over NPR (National Population Register) was okay but there was no discussion about the NRC,” Kumar said.

Related news: Prashant slams Nitish, asks which side are you on – Godse or Gandhi?

Another BJP legislator who didn’t want to be named said they (BJP) were amazed at the manner in which the adjournment motion, moved by the RJD, for a debate over the NRC was hastily accepted by the Chair that led to the resolution getting passed.

Amid talks of alleged growing proximity between the JD(U) and the RJD, state JD(U) president Vashishtha Narayan Singh strongly denied the gossip.

He also sought to dismiss ‘reports’ of the RJD supporting Nitish should a threat to the JD(U)-BJP government arise.

Vashishtha Narayan Singh asserted that the government is stable by mockingly saying, “Where is the threat to the government when Tejahswi is assuring us his all-out support?”

Political experts describe the developments as sheer ‘blackmailing’ by Nitish government to bargain hard for seats.

“By dallying with the RJD, Nitish is attempting a hard bargain with the BJP, which wants to have equal distribution of seats as was the case during the last Lok Sabha polls,” DM Diwakar, a political analyst said.

Until now, Nitish’s government has been the balancing factor in Bihar politics and whoever joins hands with him stands a better chance of returning to power. That’s his USP which makes all parties queue up before him seeking an alliance.

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