Published: 11th August 2022
#WhatTheFAQ: What's happening in Bihar, and what does it mean for India in 2024?
JD (U)'s Nitish Kumar took oath as the CM of Bihar for the eighth time after dumping the alliance with the BJP. We take a look at the scenario in the state
Another day, another coup. That has been the story of politics in some states in India. This time, it's the all-crucial seat in Bihar that has seen a change in the alliance that leads the government. Why did it come to this for the BJP-JDU alliance in the state? And, what does this mean for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections?
Who is the new Chief Minister of Bihar?
For the eighth time, the leader of the Janata Dal (United) [JD (U)] party, Nitish Kumar, took oath as the Chief Minister of Bihar on August 10. This time around the government he represents constitutes members of his party, and that of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and other opposition parties.
Why did the previous government topple?
In the Bihar Assembly Elections of 2020, the JD (U) contested in an alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). And although the BJP had won the highest number of seats in the state, Nitish Kumar had been appointed Chief Minister. However, according to media reports, Nitish Kumar was not comfortable with this alliance with the BJP, as he felt undermined by members of the latter reporting directly to the party's national chief Amit Shah, instead of him.
For example, BJP's Tarkishore Prasad, who was the Minister of Animal Husbandry and Fisheries of Bihar under Nitish Kumar, declared the controversial film Kashmiri Files tax-free without consulting the CM, as reported by The Wire. Unhappy with the alliance, Nitish Kumar resigned from his post as CM under the alliance with BJP and joined hands with former CM Lalu Prasad Yadav's RJD earlier this week.
What did the BJP say about Nitish Kumar's move?
According to media reports, the BJP did not attempt to prevent Nitish Kumar from quitting the alliance. Leaders in Bihar from the BJP say that Kumar has lost his hold on the people of the state, and the BJP will now look to battle out the next Assembly Election on its own. The party also said that Kumar had betrayed the people of Bihar, and was hurting their interests.
Has such an alliance happened in the past?
Nitish Kumar was a long-standing ally of the BJP since the time of Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 1996. He had first cut ties with the party in 2013, joining hands with the RJD for the 2015 Bihar elections. However, in 2017, he reconciled relations with the BJP once again. When asked by reporters about that move, he said, "Forget about it. That was a mistake."
How does this impact the 2024 Lok Sabha elections?
The JD (U)'s divorce from the BJP means that the ruling national party has now lost three major state alliances (Shiv Sena in Maharashtra, Shiromani Akali Dal in Punjab and JD (U) in Bihar). With an influential leader like Nitish Kumar joining hands with the opposition, the 2024 elections might see the BJP facing stiff competition to take the country three terms in a row. During his speech at the oath-taking ceremony, Kumar said he would work towards developing Opposition unity and questioned if the Narendra Modi-led BJP would manage to win in the 2024 elections.