Nitish Kumar may have broken up with the BJP in haste, but there’s no ghosting in this split. His party, the Janata Dal United and the BJP, which was ditched yesterday, exchanged elaborate recriminations today about how their relationship ended.
Nitish Kumar said, “How the BJP treats people is before you.”
“We followed all coalition dharma, it is Nitish Kumar who betrayed it,” said Union Minister Giriraj Singh of the BJP.
Nitish Kumar’s party says that’s a laughable claim and that the BJP, desperate to prevent Nitish Kumar from forming a new alliance, tried to pressure other parties from signing up with him. “Yesterday, they were trying to call RJD leaders, saying you can go but after three-four days. But they no longer have an agent any more. They only had one agent and Nitish ji had him removed,” said Rajiv Ranjan ‘Lalan’ Singh, who is the president of Nitish Kumar’s party.
His comment reiterates the villainous role that Nitish Kumar has conferred upon RCP Singh, who was his trusted aide and the JDU’s sole representative in the union cabinet till July 7. That’s when Nitish Kumar refused to extend his term in the Rajya Sabha, which meant RCP Singh, suspected of having switched loyalty to Amit Shah, had to resign. On the weekend, he was accused by Lalan Singh of corruption. And since then, he has been named by his former party for trying to lure MLAs to defect to the BJP.
Today, the BJP sought to prove that it did, contrary to earlier reports, try to make good with Nitish Kumar once it became apparent that he was upset.
“Only two days back, Amit Shah made a telephone call to Nitish Kumar… he said ‘there’s nothing to worry about’,” said senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi to NDTV today.
For the BJP, it is important to counter the allegation made by Nitish Kumar’s team that it has no respect for allies. BJP President JP Nadda said about a week ago that “Other parties will be wiped out, the BJP alone will survive” has been offered by Team Nitish as evidence that the Prime Minister’s party is not coy about its commitment to sabotaging regional players who choose to partner with it.
Nitish Kumar has established himself as politically curious. He has divorced the BJP (for a second time) and has renewed his vows with Tejashwi Yadav, the 30-something leader who he accused of corruption in 2017 before ditching him. That meant the end credits rolled on the government that the two leaders were a part of along with the Congress for about two years. Before and after that stint, Nitish Kumar was an ally of the BJP. His critics say this proves he has no ideology and chooses partners purely in self-interest. But that is not a new recrimination – and nor has it kept parties who were abandoned by him from giving him another shot.