Nitish Kumar To Re-Enter NDA After Split With Sharad Yadav

Mr Kumar, who was in Delhi today, met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah. This was their first in-person interaction since Mr Kumar dramatically reconfigured his government in Bihar to include the BJP last month.

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Nitish Kumar To Re-Enter NDA After Split With Sharad Yadav

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar looks ready to re-enter the BJP's national coalition (File)

New Delhi: 

Highlights

  1. Nitish Kumar met PM Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah in Delhi today
  2. Likely to reveal support to BJP's national coalition, NDA next weekend
  3. Nitish Kumar left NDA in 2013 after Mr Modi was named PM candidate
After making it clear that he will make no attempt to make nice with his partner, Sharad Yadav,  Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is ready for his next big move: re-entering the BJP's national coalition, which he exited abruptly in 2013 over its decision to name then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as its prime ministerial candidate.

Mr Kumar, who was in Delhi today, met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah. This was their first in-person interaction since Mr Kumar dramatically reconfigured his government in Bihar to include the BJP last month.   

Sources said that at a major gathering of his party next weekend, Mr Kumar will reveal that he's extending his association with the BJP by becoming a member of the national coalition that it leads. By then, his split with Mr Yadav is expected to be complete.

Mr Kumar last month junked Lalu Yadav and the Congress as his allies to hook up with the BJP. Mr Yadav claims he was neither consulted nor informed about Mr Kumar's plans to swap partners. That's not true, the Chief Minister told NDTV today after his meeting with PM Modi. He added that Mr Yadav is out of line in claiming that the resurrection of their party's relationship with the BJP is not favoured by most of its workers.

"The party has made a decision. He (Sharad Yadav) should accept it," the Chief Minister said today.

Last year, Mr Yadav was replaced as the president of the Janata Dal United or JDU, which he co-founded nearly 14  years ago with Mr Kumar. The Chief Minister's decision to lead the party himself was seen as evidence of profound fissuring with Mr Yadav.

Mr Yadav, like the allies who were benched by Mr Kumar, says that the Chief Minister has "betrayed the mandate of the people" who voted in 2015 for voted for the Maha-gathbandhan or "Grand Alliance" of his JDU, the Congress, and Lalu  Yadav.   With Mr Yadav enumerating his grievances with the Chief Minister on a daily basis, it's unlikely that he will attend their party's three-day national executive that begins in a week in Patna.

It is at this gathering of party workers and leaders that the Chief Minister reportedly plans to disclose that the JDU will, in addition to governing Bihar with the BJP, join  PM Modi's national coalition.  When Mr Kumar stomped out of the same alliance in 2013, it was because he felt that Muslim voters in Bihar would truncate their support for him if he was seen as backing Mr Modi, who was running for PM.  Mr Kumar said that Mr Modi was tainted by the communal riots of Gujarat which took place in 2002 while he was  Chief Minister.

His move backfired.  Mr Modi's towering win included big gains in Bihar, where his party won 32 of the state's 40 parliamentary seats. Mr Kumar's party won just two.

Over the last few months, the Chief Minister steadily worked his way back towards the PM, praising his demonetisation reform at a time when every other opposition leader attacked it for creating rural distress. The PM responded by complimenting Mr Kumar publicly on his controversial alcohol ban in Bihar.

Then in June, Mr Kumar decided to abandon an 18-party front that he had helped create to take on the BJP. He announced he would support the BJP's candidate for President, Ram Nath Kovind.

Weeks later, he checked out of the Grand Alliance, using a CBI case against Lalu Yadav and his son, Tejashwi, who was his Deputy, as his exit point and professing that his conscience would not allow him to continue with partners who were unwilling to offer a detailed explanation of the charges against them, as demanded by him.

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