Three years after a bitter parting of ways between JD(U) and RJD, something seemed to have changed after the 2020 Bihar Assembly election results. Those watching the Vidhan Sabha saw a somewhat different, less mocking Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and a relatively mellowed, less attacking Leader of Opposition in Tejashwi Prasad Yadav.
There was one showdown between the two in the Assembly last year, but Nitish deftly avoided any further face-off with the young RJD leader by remaining absent whenever Tejashwi was to speak in the House.
One, however, did not read too much into it at the time. That was then.
The first sign of a Nitish-Tejashwi camaraderie was seen when the Bihar CM led a 10-party delegation last year to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi to demand a nationwide caste census. Tejashwi was by his side when Nitish addressed the media in New Delhi; at the media meet, Nitish let Tejashwi speak his mind on caste census.
But since all parties, including the BJP, was part of the delegation, not much politics could be read into it. That, again, was then.
A clearer signal of bonhomie was spotted when Nitish received Tejashwi very warmly during an iftaar earlier this year, and even saw him off till the gate of the CM’s residence. In between the trip to Delhi and the iftaar meeting, the two leaders met one on one to “discuss caste census”. But there could have been, it appears now, more than meets the eye.
Another sign of the two parties cosying up to each other came when JD(U) did not react critically following recent CBI raids at Lalu Prasad’s residence in the job-for-land case; nor did the party react to Lalu aide Bhola Yadav’s arrest in the case last fortnight. One wondered if it was the same Nitish Kumar who had snapped ties with RJD after similar raids and registration of cases in 2017.
Last month, when the PM came to Patna to attend the closing ceremony of Bihar Legislative Assembly centenary celebrations, the CM made sure that the Leader of Opposition got to share the dais with Modi — a far cry from the time when Nitish had denied Tejashwi the same opportunity when Modi came to Patna during ‘Prakash Parv’ at the Gandhi Maidan in January 2017.
As Tejashwi said today: “Chacha and bhatija can fight, but they will coexist.”
This, however, is now.