• Wednesday, October 05, 2022

HEADLINE STORY

Days after winning Maharashtra, Modi’s BJP gets booted out in Bihar: It’s 1-1 but for how long?

By: Shubham Ghosh

Seasoned politician Nitish Kumar, a mercurial leader from the eastern Indian state of Bihar, took oath as its chief minister for the record eighth time on Wednesday (10) after he called off his alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of prime minister Narendra Modi and joining back the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Indian National Congress with which he had formed a Grand Alliance during the 2015 state elections and formed a government to keep the BJP at bay.

In 2017, Kumar dumped the alliance to join the BJP again after accusing his then deputy Tejashwi Yadav of indulging in corruption. Yadav, who leads the RJD, took oath as the deputy chief minister of Bihar on Wednesday.

The latest political drama in Bihar was an exact opposite to what transpired in the western Indian state of Maharashtra over the past few months.

In Maharashtra, too, a coalition government (Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi) came to power in 2019 featuring the Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress to prevent the BJP, the single-largest party in the state assembly, from forming power. But the model did not sustain long, thanks to a revolt by Sena leader Eknath Shinde, who toppled the government of former chief minister Uddhav Thackeray and became the chief minister himself with the backing of the BJP.

The opposition in India, which is struggling to remain relevant in the Modi era, was demoralised by the events in Maharashtra, the country’s richest state, and the spectre of ‘Operation Lotus’ whereby the BJP is accused of engineering collapse of governments led by its opposition parties kept on haunting them. The situation in Jharkhand, a neighbouring state of Bihar, was also believed to be going the Maharashtra way. Coupled with that, the big losses of opposition candidates in the recently held presidential and vice presidential elections and the enforcement directorate’s raids against a number of opposition leaders hit the anti-Modi brigade equally hard.

And then, Bihar happened.

Kumar’s moves, even though have been slammed for their routine irregularity, will give the beleaguered Indian opposition some respite ahead of the big battle of 2024 when India goes to its next national election.

Akhilesh Yadav, a major anti-Modi face from Bihar’s neighbour Uttar Pradesh has praised Kumar over his move and said it was a good start.

But can the opposition, which is far too disunited, come together after the BJP got ejected from power in Bihar and show Modi and his party a strength of unity?

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