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PoliticsIndiaHow Sonia Gandhi played a role in Nitish Kumar's latest ditching act,...

How Sonia Gandhi played a role in Nitish Kumar’s latest ditching act, a top source in INC reveals

While Janata Dal-United [JD(U)] leader Nitish Kumar's eighth swearing-in as the Bihar chief minister, now for the second in alliance with the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), became news, analysts discussed how easy it was for the socialist leader to walk across the street without having to witness south India-like fleeing of MLAs to distant resorts in another state, nobody tried to look into the possibility of players other than the three big parties in Bihar. However, the Indian National Congress (INC) interim president Sonia Gandhi, whose party is hardly relevant in Bihar, was lurking in the shadows. 

JD(U)'s second Mahagathbandhan with the RJD and other opposition parties, ending the coalition with the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), was scripted elsewhere. A high-ranking source in Bihar Congress says the screenplay for the political change in the state was written by a courtesy call. Nitish Kumar had called Sonia Gandhi when she was battling Covid-19.

The Bihar chief minister complained about the 'pressure' of the BJP and said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's party was trying to break his. He sought cooperation from Sonia Gandhi for change in Bihar. Sonia Gandhi asked him to contact Rahul Gandhi as well.

However, Kumar gave the responsibility to contact INC leader Rahul Gandhi to Tejashwi Yadav who happily obliged. Rahul Gandhi agreed also to be in touch with Bhakta Charan Das, the man in charge of the state unit of the INC.

With the talks, the script for the change was ready. Nitish Kumar wanted such a majority that the BJP could not topple the government by making a dent in it. So he remained silent till the strength of his new coalition reached 164 through the Left and INC. Nitish Kumar placed the bet as soon as he got the chance.

Meanwhile, BJP leader and former Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi suggested that the fallout between his party and Nitish Kumar could be linked to the Bihar chief minister's desire to become the country's vice president.

Kumar parted ways with the BJP, alleging that the party was trying to break the JD(U). He joined hands with the political opponents RJD in the Mahagathbandhan on 9 August. Speculation was rife regarding his future with suggestions of his 'national ambitions' doing rounds in the political sphere.

Kumar was a 17-year-old ally of the BJP before he snapped ties in 2013 with the ruse that Modi was "communal". He later joined hands with the BJP in 2017, this calling Lalu Prasad Yadav's regime "corrupt". Kumar said that there was a unanimous decision in the party meeting in the morning "to break off ties".

JD(U) and BJP had fought the 2020 assembly election together and Nitish Kumar was made the chief minister of the alliance though the BJP had, as usual, won more seats. The railway minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in 1996 used the exit of RCP Singh from the party as an excuse in accordance with the script discussed with Sonia Gandhi, it turns out. JD(U) leaders have also been chaffing at the role of Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas) leader Chirag Paswan during the 2020 assembly polls and have indicated that his putting up candidates from seats contested by the party had damaged it.

The JD(U) and RJD had fought the 2015 Bihar election together. The JD(U) had won 71 seats — part of Mahagathbandhan's 170 — in the Bihar assembly of capacity 243, but the JD(U) could win only 45 seats in 2020 when he allied with the BJP, which he used as another scripted excuse to break free of the NDA.

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