Nitish Kumar today declared that his deputy Tejashwi Yadav would lead the ruling coalition in the 2025 Bihar election, virtually starting the countdown on his own term as Chief Minister.
“I am not the Prime Ministerial candidate or Chief Ministerial candidate. My goal is to defeat the BJP,” Nitish Kumar said at a meeting of MLAs belonging to Bihar ruling coalition.
“Tejashwi has to be encouraged,” he added.
Since yesterday, Nitish Kumar has dropped several hints that he sees Tejashwi Yadav, a fierce critic not long ago, as his political heir.
“We are doing a lot. And if there’s anything left to do in the future, then Tejashwi will keep working and will get it all done. Those who want to divide us, don’t try to create trouble at anyone’s bidding. We must stay united and work together. There should be no friction,” the Chief Minister said on Monday, at the launch of a dental college in Nalanda.
Tejashwi Yadav, who was on stage, figured twice in the speech.
“Tejashwi is here, I have done whatever I could to take him forward, I will take him even further ahead. You all can see and understand everything. All our officials are working well. Listen to what I am saying. This is not my personal view. Whatever we are doing, we are following the path of Gandhi,” he said.
Many read between the lines to interpret the comments as Nitish Kumar’s way of declaring Tejashwi Yadav as his heir apparent.
Today’s comments left no room for doubt.
Reacting to Mr Kumar’s effusive endorsement, Tejashwi Yadav said: “For now, 2024 (national election) is the goal. Everything else will come after that.”
As leader of opposition, Tejashwi Yadav was one of Nitish Kumar’s most aggressive baiters, frequently deriding him as a “tired and spent” leader who needs to retire. The bitterness dated back to 2017, when Nitish Kumar dropped Tejashwi Yadav as his deputy, dumped the RJD and revived his alliance with the BJP.
That changed dramatically in August, when Nitish Kumar dumped the BJP and formed a new government with the RJD and other opposition parties, making Tejashwi Yadav his deputy for the second time.
Last month, Tejashwi Yadav called himself “the luckiest person” and weaved in a compliment for his boss.
“Who could be a luckier person than me? My mother and father have been Chief Ministers and leaders of opposition. I have been Deputy Chief Minister twice, leader of opposition once, and have the opportunity to work under the leadership of the most experienced Chief Minister. Who can be luckier than I?” he said.