Bihar politics: Crisis deepens, Nitish and Tejaswi to meet Governor; 16 BJP ministers to quit, say sources

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PTI

By MM Desk

A political storm is brewing in Bihar with allies BJP and JD(U) showing signs of going off the rails. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is expected to take a big decision at a meeting on Tuesday, August 9, where JD(U) MPs, MLAs and MLCs will be present. Top JD(U) sources have told News18 that the alliance with BJP is “at a dead end”, adding that Tuesday’s meeting is crucial. JD(U) sources also told CNN-News18 that Union Home Minister Amit Shah dialled Nitish Kumar in the morning, but sources in Shah’s office denied it.

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On the other hand, JD(U) has sought an appointment from Bihar Governor Phagu Chauhan.

Members of both houses of Parliament and state legislature, belonging to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s JD(U), converged here on Tuesday to attend a meeting at his official residence, amid speculations of a major political move by the veteran leader, senior party functionaries said. The meeting is scheduled to commence at 11 AM. While the outcome will be known once the meeting is over, more than one of the prospective attendees denied the party’s ties with the BJP having worsened to an extent to call for a realignment. Our party had held many such meetings of MPs and MLAs in the past. We have been told that the current meeting has been called to discuss organisational matters. Never heard about any major crisis in the NDA,” said Ram Nath Thakur, a Rajya Sabha member, low key but known to enjoy proximity to the chief minister by virtue of being the son of late Karpoori Thakur, the latter’s political mentor.

Amid a crisis in the NDA alliance in Bihar, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is expected to take a big decision at a meeting on Tuesday where JD(U) MPs, MLAs and MLCs will be present.

Top JD(U) sources have told News18 that the alliance with BJP is “at a dead end”, adding that Tuesday’s meeting is crucial. JD(U) sources also told CNN-News18 that Union Home Minister Amit Shah dialled Nitish Kumar in the morning, but sources in Shah’s office denied it.

Amid reports of fissures between the two allies, the Bihar opposition — Congress, RJD and Left — have declared open support to Nitish and JD(U).

The RJD, which was in an alliance with JD(U) earlier, said that it was ready to embrace Nitish Kumar and his party if he snapped ties with the BJP. Nitish had in 2017 pulled out of an alliance with RJD over corruption charges levelled against then deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav.

Meanwhile, the RJD has dissolved its media panel and advised all senior functionaries to refrain from making any statement. Sources say that if the RJD and JD(U) sort out who should get the complex issues of who becomes the chief minister and who controls the home department, then the JD(U) will induct RJD ministers without the need to sworn-in fresh chief minister.

The Congress, principal rival of the BJP nationally but a spent force in Bihar, also went into a huddle. “All party MLAs have unanimously resolved to support the new formation that comes into being if Nitish Kumar breaks away from the BJP,” AICC secretary and MLA Shakil Ahmed Khan said.

AICC in-charge Bhakt Charan Das, who is on a scheduled visit, expressed similar sentiments prior to the legislature party meeting but said “no idea” when asked about reports that the Bihar CM has spoken over phone to Sonia Gandhi and sought an appointment on August 11. Allies since the 1990s, JD(U) and BJP have in the recent past squabbled on issues ranging from Agnipath, caste census, population law and ban on loudspeakers. AGENCIES

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