Jolted by Manipur MLAs’ Crossover, Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) Dares BJP to 2024 Duel

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The JD(U) and BJP are on the warpath again, this time after five of six MLAs of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s party joined the ruling BJP in Manipur, triggering a showdown between the ex-coalition partners over each other’s future.

Bihar BJP MP and Kumar’s former deputy Sushil Kumar Modi took to Twitter on Friday night to take a dig at the JD(U) over its MLAs switching sides, and said the party would soon meet its end in Bihar too. “After Arunachal, Manipur is also JDU free. Very soon Laluji will make Bihar also JDU free,” he tweeted in Hindi.

Calling him a ‘lame duck chief minister’, BJP’s Amit Malviya said Nitish Kumar is seeing his party’s footprint shrink in Bihar and outside, but he dreams of becoming the prime minister.

Not one to keep quiet, JD(U) national president Rajiv Ranjan Singh asked the BJP to not “daydream of liberation from JD(U)”. He also accused the BJP of not adhering to coalition “dharma” in Arunachal Pradesh, where all seven of its MLAs have now merged with the ruling party, and pointed out that PM Narendra Modi had to hold 42 rallies to win 53 seats in Manipur in 2015.

“Want to remind you that both in Arunachal and Manipur, JD(U) won seats by defeating @BJP4India. So don’t daydream of liberation from JD(U). Was what happened in Arunachal Pradesh because of your adherence to the alliance commitment?” he tweeted in Hindi.

He added: “…and once again in Manipur @BJP4India’s moral conduct is in front of everyone. You must remember that in 2015, the Prime Minister held 42 meetings, only then 53 seats could be won. In 2024, the country will be free from jumlebaajs….just wait.”

In a setback to the JD(U), which ended its tie-up with the BJP in Bihar, five of its six MLAs — Kh Joykishan, N Sanate, Md Achab Uddin, former DGP L M Khaute and Thangjam Arunkumar — joined the BJP in Manipur. Khaute and Arunkumar had previously sought to contest the assembly polls on BJP tickets but joined the JD(U) after being denied BJP tickets. The decision of the MLAs was considered valid since the number of MLAs who switched sides was greater than two thirds of the total.

In 2020, six of seven JD(U) legislators had joined the BJP in Arunachal Pradesh, and last week its lone MLA in the north-eastern state also crossed over to the BJP.

National role?

Nitish Kumar, since returning as the chief minister of the Mahagathbandhan government, has kept his cards close to his chest about his national ambition.

However, a poster put up outside the party headquarters in Patna ahead of the party’s two-day national convention on Saturday and Sunday read “Pradesh mein dikha, desh mein dikhega” — implying that the country is to see Nitish Kumar’s ‘good governance’, apparently projecting him for a national role.

Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao who met Nitish Kumar in Patna said the opposition parties are yet to sit and decide about the futre course of action for the 2024 general election.

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