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Nitish returns to NDA fold
Narendra Modi hailed Nitish Kumar on Wednesday immediately after the latter announced his resignation as the Chief Minister of Bihar. Modi tweeted: "Congratulations! Nitish Kumar for joining the fight against corruption."
Modi said that 1.25 crore people welcomed Kumar's decision and said that it was "the need of the hour to rise above political differences" and fight corruption.
But even as Kumar parted ways with the Mahagathbandhan and called his move as that in the interest of the state, the fact that BJP and JD(U) have been at loggerheads for a while cannot be overlooked.Kumar's JD(U) broke a 17-year alliance with the BJP in June 2013 after the party appointed Modi as the chief of election campaign for BJP's 2014 Lok Sabha elections. After that, Kumar and Modi continued to hold grudge and often targeted each other at public rallies. On similar lines, JD(U)'s view pertaining to BJP, and vice versa, also kept fluctuating after the end of alliance.
Days after BJP revealed Modi as its prime ministerial candidate, speaking on the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots, Kumar had said, "To govern a country like India, you have to take everyone along; sometimes you will have to wear a topi and sometimes tilak (kabhi topi bhi pehenni padhegi, kabhi tilak bhi lagana padega)," according to The Times of India. This was seen as a dig at Modi, who had, in 2011, refused to wear s skull cap offered by a Muslim cleric during his sadbhavna fast.
Modi's attack on JD(U)
Attacking the JD(U)-RJD alliance, Modi had dubbed RJD as "Rozana Jungle Raj ka Darr" in July 2015. Modi had then also said that there was something wrong with Kumar's "political DNA".
Modi's address received criticism as JD(U) leader KC Tyagi said, "Aisa laga jaise koi Nitish Kumar se badla lene ki icchha se aaya hua hai. Mujhe unke bhaashan se niraasha hui. PM ke mooh se jaati ki baaten achi nahi lagti. Jis tarah se unhone yadhvansh ka haavala deke Lalu ji ka zikra kiya, ye kisi desh ke shaaleen Pradhaanmantri ko shobha nahi deta. (It looked like the prime minister was in Bihar to malign Kumar. This is vendetta politics and it doesn't suit a prime minister of a country. I was disappointed.)"
Ahead of the Bihar Assembly polls, Kumar had called the R S S the BJP's ideological mentor. “What is the power of the BJP in front of the R S S… the R S S is like the Supreme Court of the BJP and now they seek to instal an extra-constitutional body to review reservation,” he was quoted as saying by The Hindu.
In November the same year, Modi had also accused Kumar and RJD supremo Lalu Prasad of jointly demanding a review of the policy to provide for religion-based reservation in 2005. While addressing poll rallies for the last phase of the Bihar polls, he launched a fresh attack against the two, saying ‘jungle raj’ now had a twin brother in ‘jantar-mantar’ (black magic), and together the two will “spell doom” for the state. He also criticised Kumar for meeting a tantrik, saying that he was resorting to “black magic as he does not believe in democracy”.
JD(U)'s demand for Sangh-free India
On several occasions, Kumar called for a Sangh-Mukt Bharat in 2016. “ To make India Sangh-free, all parties must come together(Sangh-mukt Bharat banane ke liye sabhi gair BJP parties ko ek hona hoga (to usher in a Sangh-free India all non-BJP parties have to come together),” the new JD(U) chief said at the ‘Advantage Conclave’, reported The Hindu.
Days after supporting Modi's demonetisation move, Kumar met Hardik Patel, the leader of the quota agitation for Patidars — traditional BJP supporters who are currently at odds with the party. Had decided on a slogan: "Modi harao, desh bachao (Vote out Modi, save the nation)," according to NDTV.
In May 2017, Kumar met Sonia Gandhi to discuss the need for forging unity among the Opposition parties to take on the BJP-led NDA.
However, he kept changing his views on Modi. Nitish had in May also said that he was not as capable as Modi, and that he had no naitonal ambitions. Nitish later skipped Sonia Gandhi's luncheon held particularly in the context of 2017 presidential polls, and instead met Modi a day later.
However, days before International Day of Yoga, Kumar backed out from extending support to Modi's campaign and dubbed the event a "publicity stunt", according to India Today.
In June, JD(U) had slammed BJP for not addressing mob lynching issues, and for making cow the "national agenda" in a bid to polarise votes, India Today reported. However, in the same month BJP had come out to say Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar had nothing but love for each other. BJP spokesperson GVL Narsimha Rao said, "The coalition in Bihar is riddled with internal contradictions. While there is a natural admiration between the prime minister and Nitish Kumar, the open attacks among the alliance partners signal a massive churn." But now that the JD(U) and BJP have planned to stitch an alliance in Bihar, their take on each other is at least not left to the imagination.
Why Nitish changed mind
CM Joined Hands With BJP After Learning Of Lalu's Offer To NDA To Topple Govt
Though beset with contradictions and led by a chief minister who chafed at the constraints imposed on him by coalition compulsions, the grand alliance in Bihar would not have unravelled so soon had it not been for Nitish Kumar's suspicions of betrayal.
Sources in JD(U) said that though Nitish was not happy with the conduct of ministers nominated by RJD who would take orders from Lalu Prasad, it was the “reliable report“ of the latter offering a deal to BJP which turned out to be the tipping point for him.
JD(U) sources alleged that Lalu's emissaries had approached two Union ministers offering to pull the rug from under Nitish's feet in lieu of the Centre's help with legal troubles facing their boss.
Convicted for his complicity in a corruption case and, as a result, barred from contesting elections, Lalu had won a big battle when Jharkhand high court endorsed his argument that having already been convicted in the fodder scam case, he could not be tried separately for cases which were part of the larger conspiracy to embezzle money meant to buy animal feed for government-run dairy and poultry forms.
The CBI had challenged the verdict in the Supreme Court and, according to JD (U), RJD wanted the Centre to go easy during the hearing. The two Union ministers shared details of the purported offer with the leadership and within no time, news of the conspiracy reached Nitish.
The CM ran his own check and found the “tip-off “ to be credible -a determination which, JD(U) sources said, deepened the divergence. On May 8, the SC struck down the Jharkhand HC order and ruled that Lalu would have to face trial in each of the cases registered against him in connection with the fodder scam. The top court, in fact, passed severe strictures against the HC judge who gave the verdict .
Months of back-room work
There was more than a hint of synchronisation in the events played out in Patna and Delhi as BJP played its cards astutely on Wednesday with a scheduled meeting of the parliamentary board quickly deciding to back Nitish Kumar as CM and seal the deal for a coalition government.
Having already offered outside support to Nitish in case he broke with RJD, the BJP brass revised its public script almost every few minutes as the party first announced that it would would not like mid-terms polls in Bihar and then a little later announced that it would join a coalition.
The two parties worked over recent months to revive their 17-year-long alliance which ended abruptly in June 2013 when Nitish parted ways expressing strong opposition to Narendra Modi being considered as the NDA's prime ministerial candidate.
The tie-up is intended to highlight a common agenda against corruption as also underscore an alliance with a major backward caste leader, a significant factor in Bihar and neighbouring UP.With Modi's own OBC credentials seen as an asset, the pact with Nitish weakens the argument that BJP caters to upper caste interests.
As the high political drama unfolded soon after Nitish sought an appointment with Bihar governor Kesarinath Tripathi on Wednesday evening, BJP moved to leave no confusion about the return of a JD(U)-BJP government in the state. Asked about a reunion with BJP , Nitish bolstered saffron spirits by saying his next move would be in the interest of the state.
Soon after Nitish's resignation, PM Narendra Modi tweeted his approval of the move as he linked it with the war against corruption, one of the major planks of the NDA government including measures like demonetisation and the law to crack down on benami property .
Modi tweeted, “I congratulate Nitish Kumar for joining fight against corruption.125 crore people of the coun try are with him... Rising above political affiliations, fight against corruption is in the interest of Bihar and the country .“ Later, Modi's tweets turned out to be the official BJP line as several of its leaders hinted at joining hands with Nitish, terming it an alliance of crusaders against corruption.
It may be a coincidence but BJP convened its parliamentary board meeting initially about finalising candidates for the Rajya Sabha polls. However, there was a formal briefing about political developments in Bihar after the parliamentary board meet.
Sushil Modi said BJP had decided to support Nitish. “Nityanandji and I called on Nitishji. BJP will support him, will support the government under him, We will inform the governor also,“ Sushil Modi said after a brief meeting with party legislators in Patna. Reports of Lalu Prasad's confidantes meeting BJP leaders to plot against Nitish only served to quicken events. Sources said Lalu's aides urged leniency in a probe against the RJD boss and offered to unsettle the Nitish government in return.