Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today said the BJP “will come down to 50 seats” in the 2024 elections “if all Opposition parties fight together”. “I am working for that,” said Mr Kumar, whose likely national role is driving political conversations ever since he dumped the BJP last month to form a new government with old allies, Tejashwi Yadav’s RJD and the Congress. He has so far skirted questions about his ambitions.
His latest call for Opposition unity came in his speech at his party JDU’s executive meeting in Patna, where two resolutions were passed: One authorising Nitish Kumar to work for Opposition unity, and the other saying there’s an “undeclared emergency” in the country under the BJP.
Mr Kumar, speaking to reporters earlier, confirmed he’ll be visiting Delhi to meet with top leaders of other parties for an anti-BJP front. The three-day visit will begin on Monday, news agencies reported.
On five of six JDU MLAs in Manipur having joined the BJP, he said they had visited him in Bihar and were happy over the party ditching the BJP-led NDA. “Just imagine what’s happening. How they are breaking off MLAs who won from other parties,” he said.
The Manipur switch yesterday led to a round of rhetoric between JDU and BJP.
BJP MP and Nitish Kumar’s former deputy, Sushil Kumar Modi last night said the JDU will collapse in Bihar as well. On its national prospects, the senior BJP leader said, “Posters and hoardings do not make anyone the Prime Minister,” referring to publicity material at the JDU office that had Nitish Kumar-versus-Narendra Modi analogies in new slogans.
“If a leader only has 5-10 MPs from his party, how can he become the PM?” Sushil Modi told reporters. “Nitish-ji just wants to be in the news. He knows he cannot become even a candidate for PM.”
— Sushil Kumar Modi (@SushilModi) September 2, 2022
JDU President Rajiv Ranjan Singh ‘Lallan’ hit back at claims of JDU splintering in Bihar, saying Sushil Modi “should not daydream”. He accused the BJP of not adhering to “coalition dharma” in Arunachal Pradesh, where JDU MLAs merged with the ruling party even when they were allies in the NDA.
The Centre’s actions in Opposition-ruled states like Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, and Jharkhand, he said, “show BJP’s fear and desperation ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls”. Asked if it could happen in Bihar as well, he said there’s politics in every vein of the state, thus nothing would happen here. On Manipur, he claimed the MLA’s switch was “due to money power”.
As for the JDU’s fate there now, since five of its six MLAs broke away — more than two thirds — their move did not violate the anti-defection law. In Arunachal Pradesh, six of seven JDU legislators had joined the BJP in 2020; and its lone remaining MLA did so last week.