Hours after ending his alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Janata Dal (United) supremo Nitish Kumar, while talking to reporters in Patna on Tuesday after staking claim to form the Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance) government under his leadership, stressed on the point that that it will be now “seven Mahagathbandhan allies versus the BJP” in Bihar now.
“It was not just my party and Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) which had been impressing upon me to distance from the BJP, five other parties (RJD, Congress, CPM, CPI (ML) and CPI) too thought along similar lines. Now, the Grand Alliance has seven parties,” Nitish said, indicating that there was a need for a united fight against the BJP in the prevailing political situation.
While refraining from commenting on his national plan and his Prime Ministerial ambition for the 2024 general elections at this stage, Nitish, who is considered to be among the country’s most astute and seasoned politicians, pointed to a Bihar template of Opposition unity comprising the Congress, Socialist and Left parties with a common goal of taking on the BJP.
RJD leader Tejashwi Prasad Yadav sought to supplement the points Nitish did not make directly. “We will not allow BJP to fulfil its nefarious design now. We are together now and are not afraid of any political vendetta,” Tejashwi said, charging that the BJP lost virtually all its allies because it would try to “subsume” them sooner or later.
JD(U) national spokesperson KC Tyagi told The Indian Express: “Bihar has been a model of assimilative coalition politics since 1967, when the Left, Bharatiya Jan Sangh and Socialists had come together against the Congress. The country also saw a good coalition model given by AB Vajpayee and Jyoti Basu. But things went haywire from there when BJP started trying to diminish the influence of regional parties.”
Referring to the JD(U)’s alliance with the BJP-led NDA under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Tyagi said, “We had been demanding a coordination committee in the NDA for a long time. Now that we are part of the Grand Alliance in Bihar, it is heartening to see an all new coalition of the Congress, Left and Socialists taking shape. Nitish Kumar has shown the way. Any coalition can only succeed if we respect each other rather than try to corrode each other.”
Another senior JD(U) leader said: “Nitish Kumar calling up Sonia Gandhi before joining UPA / Grand Alliance speaks a lot. Now that all seven Bihar parties have come together, this experiment should be replicated at the national level with the Congress taking the lead. We still have ample time to prepare for the next Lok Sabha polls but the process of stitching together a national alliance against the BJP should begin.”
The RJD and the JD(U) also pointed to exploring the possibility of similar alliances by convincing like-minded parties in some other states. RJD national spokesperson Subodh Mehta said: “Everyone knows BJP plays politics of vendetta. Our leaders Lalu Prasad and Tejashwi Prasad Yadav are not cowed down by all this. Now that Nitish Kumar is with us, we should expect that the Bihar model of Opposition unity is replicated at the national level.”
An RJD leader referred to the CPIL(ML)’s performance in the 2020 elections to the 243-member Bihar Assembly polls, when the party had surprised many by winning 12 seats, explaining why the Grand Alliance is enthused over its rainbow coalition. “It proves that Bihar continues to have spaces for all parties and ideologies, where the Socialists, BJP, Congress, and Left all would have their presence. This is why Bihar would continue to be final frontier for the BJP,” he said.