- Nitish Kumar's allies, Congress and Lalu Yadav, angry with him
- He is backing rival BJP's candidate in election for President
- Congress questions his principles, Lalu alleges "historic blunder"
"People who have one principle make one decision, but those who believe in many principles make different decisions," said the Congress' Ghulam Nabi Azad.
The damage report on the alliance - formed just two years ago - is centered on Nitish Kumar who decided to scoot over to rival BJP for the upcoming election for President of India. Last week, the 66-year-old Chief Minister said the BJP's candidate, Ram Nath Kovind, was a fine choice because he had, in his two years as Bihar Governor, done a remarkable job.
Ram Nath Kovind is a Dalit, making it hard for opposition leaders like Mayawati to object to his nomination. Before a group of 17 opposition parties, led by the Congress, could meet to announce their choice, Nitish Kumar said he would back the BJP's choice Mr Kovind. The Congress felt doubly spurned- not just because its ally had abandoned the opposition league that he helped create in April, but because he ignored its request - made by Ghulam Nabi Azad in person in Patna - to wait till after the opposition conclave to announce his decision.
The Congress then steered the opposition towards former Speaker Meira Kumar, also a Dalit, as the nominee of anti-BJP parties. Mayawati and other fence-sitters were won over by the combination of Meira Kumar's caste and qualifications - five-time parliamentarian, former union minister, first woman speaker of the Lok Sabha.
Her candidature was also designed to puncture Nitish Kumar's claim of a Bihar connect as his main grounds for supporting the BJP nominee. Ram Nath Kovind may have served in Bihar, but Meira Kumar, the opposition's choice, belongs to leading political family from Nitish Kumar's state - her father Jagjivan Ram was a freedom fighter and Deputy Prime Minister.
Nitish Kumar said that foreboding was unearned and said he remains loyal to his Bihar allies, who he ticked off resoundingly and publicly for thrusting Meira Kumar - "Bihar's Daughter"- into a contest that she has to lose. The BJP, its allies, and a healthy number of regional parties who are backing Ram Nath Kovind have more than 60 per cent of the vote.
"He is the one who is ensuring the defeat of Bihar's daughter, not us," said Ghulam Nabi Azad of the Congress in Delhi today, demonstrating that the Bihar alliance has unsubscribed from resolving matters privately. Sources said that it was at Lalu Yadav's nudging that the Congress decided to vent against Nitish Kumar.
Yesterday, Lalu Yadv's son, Tejashwi Yadav, who is Nitish Kumar's 27-year-old Deputy, wrote a self-published column expounding on the dangers of "political opportunism." Nitish Kumar's party took offense straight away, warning that the remark "would weaken ties". That resulted in Tejashwi Yadav stating today that it is "BJP-sponsored media" that's trying to break the alliance, which is Himalayan in its strength.
The BJP and Nitish Kumar were partners for 17 years till he opted out ahead of the last general election, objecting vociferously to the party's picking Narendra Modi as its prime ministerial candidate. With his decision on voting with the BJP for President, it is open season for theories about how the BJP and he are approaching full circle.
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