PATNA: Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal United is back in folds of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance or NDA after nearly four years of separation. A patch-up between the long-lost partners was announced at the party's national executive meeting this morning in Patna.
The BJP and the JD-U, partners for nearly two decades, unchained acrimoniously in 2013. However, when last month Nitish Kumar ended his mahagathbandhan or Grand Alliance with Lalu Yadav's RJD and the Congress and formed the government with the help of the BJP, the reunion seemed inevitable.
On July 26, Nitish Kumar had quit as Chief Minister after Lalu Yadav's son, Tejashwi Yadav, refused to quit the Bihar government despite being caught in a corruption scandal. "My conscience told me to quit," said Mr Kumar, who was praised by PM Modi for his "fight against corruption" minutes later. Hours later, PM Modi's party, the BJP came out in support of Mr Kumar. The two staked claim to form government soon after.
A few years ago, Nitish Kumar had ended a long alliance with the BJP. He partnered with the Congress and former bitter rival Lalu Yadav to stop the BJP from winning the Bihar assembly elections in 2015.
But it was an uncomfortable alliance, made more uneasy by Nitish Kumar repeatedly breaking ranks with his allies to back the BJP-led Centre on issues like demonetisation and the roll-out of the landmark Goods and Services Tax (GST), which were criticised by the rest of the opposition. It was seen to signal that Mr Kumar was open to switching sides ahead of national elections in 2019.
The corruption charges against Lalu Yadav and his family gave Nitish Kumar the exit route he needed.
- Published in India