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PoliticsIndiaNitish Kumar foresees Uddhav Thackeray-like fate: Here's why

Nitish Kumar foresees Uddhav Thackeray-like fate: Here’s why

Patna: Top sources in the Nitish Kumar government say the chief minister of Bihar is apprehensive of a disintegration of his Janata Dal (United) along the lines of the split in the Shiv Sena that was once led by Uddhav Thackeray. The chief minister's confidantes say his concern is hardly paranoid, given the recent comment of BJP chief JP Nadda that regional parties "will not survive".

JDU sources say the BJP seeks to first diminish and then eliminate the allies of Nitish Kumar. "You saw JP Nadda's remark stating that all regional parties will be replaced by the BJP. But the BJP has allies like all of us — they should think about that," Umesh Kushwaha, a senior leader from JDU, said.

While Nitish Kumar reportedly said, "There's nothing serious," during a meeting this morning with Deputy Chief Minister Tarkishore Prasad, who is from the BJP, nobody is taking the chief minister's laboured assurance seriously, not even his aides.

Nitish Kumar, a source said, is foreseeing a sequel to in Bihar, persuaded by the opposition's claim that the BJP tempted Eknath Shinde to break free of Uddhav Thackeray, meticulously planning the replacement government with Devendra Fadnavis again at the helm. This explains why a top aide of Nitish Kumar accused the BJP of "working to break our party".

How JDU, Shiv Sena and Nitish Kumar, Uddhav Thackeray are similar

There are similarities between Uddhav Thackeray's Shiv Sena and Nitish Kumar's JDU indeed. Both the parties are weaker electorally than the BJP. Yet, since the era of Balasaheb Thackeray in and when Nitish Kumar headed the Samata Party that is now called the JDU, the stronger party with a better success rate of winning seats had ended up giving away more seats to the partner that has a poor 'conversion' record. This happened until the 2014 Maharashtra election. While a headless Maharashtra BJP decided to go it alone, making Fadnavis the chief minister only after the BJP emerged as the single largest party, in 2019, it allied with the Shiv Sena again — only to see Uddhav Thackeray betray it in the greed for the chief minister's chair.

Old timers in the BJP say that at the negotiation table, then-leader of JDU Shivanand Tiwari would throw his weight around in a manner that the so-called saffron party would finally give in to the demand of leaving more seats for Nitish Kumar's party before every election. This happened in the latest Bihar assembly election even in the absence of Tiwari — he was denied renomination to Rajya Sabha and expelled from the JDU on 27 February 2014 — and Nitish Kumar retained the post of chief minister despite his party's usual poor performance.

In Maharashtra, Uddhav Thackeray went downhill when Eknath Shinde rebelled and also organised a big revolt by the rank and file of the Shiv Sena. Uddhav Thackeray is now fighting in the to have his portion of the party retain its tag as the real Shiv Sena.

Likewise, Nitish Kumar has had a love-hate relationship with the BJP, breaking away from it in the name of when the national party made Narendra Modi its prime ministerial candidate, fighting the 2015 Bihar election as an ally of Lalu Prasad Yadav and then betraying the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD). The way Uddhav Thackeray managed to become chief minister even in the Maha Vikas Aghadi government, a coalition with the NCP and INC, Nitish Kumar retained the chair even as the partner of Lalu Yadav.

There is, of course, a difference too. Nitish Kumar ditched the RJD to return to the BJP in 2017 while Uddhav Thackeray went down fighting when he was in partnership with the INC and Sharad Pawar's NCP.

Nitish Kumar thinks like the opposition Amit Shah engineers rebellion in allied parties

Nitish Kumar believes Amit Shah has planted in the Bihar government ministers who are close to him. More than the merit of JDU's accusation of amassing 'ill-gotten' wealth against RCP Singh, the once friendly former IAS officer's proximity to the union home minister disturbs Nitish Kumar. In 2021, it was Nitish Kumar who had picked RCP Singh to represent the JDU in the union government, though. But in Bihar, he was perceived as someone cosying up to Amit Shah. The JDU also believes Singh has been fomenting resentment in the ranks of the regional party against the chief minister.

Two months ago, Nitish Kumar refused to extend Singh's term in the Rajya Sabha, which ended RCP Singh's tenure in the union government. This was followed this weekend by the JDU's allegation that RCP Singh was "corrupt". He quit the party on 6 August, levelling charges of vendetta, insecurity and a long-running desire to Prime Minister Modi, with whom Nitish Kumar has always shared an uncomfortable relationship. "Nitish Kumar will not become prime minister in even seven lives," RCP Singh declaimed. 

But Nitish Kumar's top aide Rajiv Ranjan 'Lallan' Singh reasserted today that RCP Singh was taking his cues from the BJP. "When we were asked to provide one union minister," he said, "RCP Singh said that Amit Shah had told him that only he (RCP) was acceptable. And Nitish Kumar said, 'If you have decided with them, then go, what do you want me to say?'"

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