- Nitish Kumar returns as Chief Minister with BJP as his ally
- He ended partnership with Congress and Lalu Yadav last evening
- Senior colleague Sharad Yadav skipped swearing-in this morning
Since last evening, when Nitish Kumar prime-timed his resignation and truncated his existing alliance to return to his ex, the BJP, Sharad Yadav has not said a word. And he was in Delhi, not Patna, when Nitish Kumar took oath as Chief Minister for a sixth time. Sharad Yadav met Rahul Gandhi shortly after the Congress Vice President attacked Nitish Kumar for choosing "selfish gains". The alliance that Nitish Kumar killed yesterday included the JDU, the Congress and Lalu Yadav.
At two recent meetings of an 18-party front which included the JD(U), Sharad Yadav assured the attendees that his party was committed to fighting the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
His guarantee was made amid a sea of evidence to the contrary. Nitish Kumar backed demonetisation in November, distinguishing himself as the only opposition leader to endorse Prime Minister Narendra Modi's shock decision; in June, just two months after he helped assemble an anti-BJP front, he went renegade as it faced its first challenge in the election for the President of India; the JDU, he said, would vote for the BJP's choice. Nitish Kumar did not attend that meeting - or the one that followed to shortlist the candidate for Vice President, who will be elected next month; it was Sharad Yadav who represented him. Annoyed opposition leaders noted that the Bihar Chief Minister had found the time to attend two meals hosted by the PM while skipping their conferrals.
Nitish Kumar has pitched his break-up of his alliance with Lalu Yadav on the corruption charges against the latter's son, Tejashwi Yadav, who was No 2 in the Bihar government. But the signs of a carefully plotted re-hitching with the BJP were virtually neon last night- the BJP took barely an hour after he resigned to proclaim it would tie up with him, the Prime Minister and Nitish Kumar exchanged warm tweets, and by this morning, a new government was in place ahead of a trust vote tomorrow.
Lalu Yadav has already urged that Muslim legislators from the JDU must "vote with their conscience" tomorrow. Ali Anwar, an MP from the party, has said "This is a disaster, a tragedy. I will share my objections if I am allowed at a party meeting." But RCP Singh, another senior JDU leader, sarcastically observed that Anwar Ali had no problem in twice being elected to the Rajya Sabha with the BJP's backing. "His term is ending soon and he fears we won't give him another shot so he is making these statements," he said.