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Modi & BJP set to win Bihar's game of thrones, courtesy Nitish's ghar wapsi

Charu Kartikeya | Updated on: 27 July 2017, 11:35 IST
(Arya Sharma/Catch News)

With his resignation as Chief Minister of the Grand Alliance government in Bihar, Nitish Kumar has paved the way for the return of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) to power in the state.

Nitish's resignation was promptly welcomed by none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Nitish also thanked the PM for his gesture from 'the bottom of his heart'.

Following the resignation, acting Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi had requested Nitish to continue as caretaker CM.

Within no time, NDA MLAs were marching up to the CM's residence, to pledge support to the JD(U) chief as the next CM.

By late evening, the BJP had already sent a letter supporting Nitish to the Raj Bhavan. Nitish is expected to take oath as CM once again on Thursday.

Nitish's alliance partner, Lalu Prasad Yadav, slammed him, saying he will 'create a new record in morality'. The RJD supremo challenged Nitish to call for elections and then see the result.

The numbers

The Bihar Assembly has 243 members and the halfway mark necessary to form the government is 122. JD(U) has 71 MLAs and NDA has 58, taking them comfortably past the magic number needed.

Although the single largest party in the assembly is the RJD, with 80 MLAs, it will not be in a position to form the government, even with the support of the Congress's 27 MLAs, the CPI(M-L)'s 3 and four independent MLAs. This alliance will still be eight seats short of the magic number.

Implications for Nitish

Nitish has succeeded in getting Lalu off his back, which he appeared to have been wanting to for a long time. However, it may be hard for him to explain to his electorate his second political u-turn in just three years.

At that time, he had junked his then-ally BJP to join hands with long-time rivals RJD and Congress to contest the 2015 Assembly polls of 2015 hand-in-hand against the NDA.

This means that the next Assembly polls, scheduled for 2020, will be a tough battle for him and his party. His own support base is only among the Extremely Backward Classes of Bihar, which are not numerically big enough to help him win the polls. By exiting the Grand Alliance, he has lost the Yadav, Muslim, Dalit and a few upper caste votes as well, which were brought in by the RJD and the Congress.

At the national level, till just a few months ago, Nitish was being considered the Prime Ministerial candidate for a united Opposition for the next Lok Sabha polls. He had begun damaging that possibility with his support for demonetisation, 'surgical strikes' and the NDA's Presidential nominee, Ram Nath Kovind, who was the Governor of Bihar at the time.

By formally rejoining the NDA, Nitish would become just another of the nearly four-dozen alliance partners of the BJP, in an alliance over which only one shadow looms large – that of Prime Minister Modi.

Implications for the BJP

This is a big win for the BJP, and especially for Modi. Nitish had broken off with the BJP largely due to an ego tussle with Modi. The PM then put Nitish his place by making the BJP win 22 seats and reducing JD(U) to a mere two in 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

Come 2015, and it was Nitish's turn to prove himself a worthy rival by defeating the BJP in the Assembly polls and becoming CM again.

Nitish took on BJP and Modi more strongly after that, and gave a clarion call for defeating it BJP by ridding the country of the BJP's parent organisation, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

But now, with the same Nitish back in the NDA fold, Modi has had the last laugh. It means the BJP, which had already won big in the two largest states of the east, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, in the Lok Sabha polls, is now in power in both the states.

With Bihar also falling into its lap, the BJP has reached very close to a complete nationwide dominance.

Implications for the Opposition

These developments in Bihar have dealt another body blow to the Opposition, which is already facing a rout in polls in state after state. A large state has slipped out of its kitty, a major alliance has been broken, and a potential leader has also been lost.

The formation of a larger Opposition axis has been stopped in its tracks.

First published: 26 July 2017, 23:36 IST
 
Charu Kartikeya @CharuKeya

Assistant Editor at Catch, Charu enjoys covering politics and uncovering politicians. Of nine years in journalism, he spent six happily covering Parliament and parliamentarians at Lok Sabha TV and the other three as news anchor at Doordarshan News. A Royal Enfield enthusiast, he dreams of having enough time to roar away towards Ladakh, but for the moment the only miles he's covering are the 20-km stretch between home and work.

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