'Can't Beat Modi, Join Him': What's Behind 'Paltu Ram' Nitish Kumar's Possible NDA Return

According to reports, Nitish Kumar may take oath as the chief minister of JD(U)-BJP government on Sunday, with Sushil Modi as his deputy

File photo of PM Modi and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar

The 'will he,-won't he' question surrounds Bihar chief minister and Janata Dal (United) president Nitish Kumar yet again as speculation grows that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is ready to welcome him back.

If and when it happens, it will be Nitish Kumar's fifth swap since November 2005, while being the chief minister. Last, he snapped ties with the BJP in August 2022 to join hands with the RJD, the Congress and other Left parties to form the grand alliance and also to remain in power.

Nitish Kumar may take oath as the chief minister of JD(U)-BJP government on Sunday, with Sushil Modi as his deputy, an report quoted sources as saying.

'Can't Beat Modi, Join Him': Inside Details On Nitish's U-Turn

The speculation in political circles suggests that Bihar's longest-serving chief minister Nitish Kumar has been cut up with the INDIA bloc for not getting a position in the alliance commensurate with his stature and has come to the realisation that "if you can't beat Modi, join him."

According to leaders close to 72-year-old Kumar, the January 13 meeting of the INDIA alliance was the turning point, where Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge was named the convenor of the Opposition bloc.

Nitish Kumar's name was proposed as convenor by CPM Leader Sitaram Yechury and endorsed by almost all leaders, including Lalu Yadav and Sharad Pawar, an NDTV report mentioned, adding that Rahul Gandhi interjected and said a decision as Trinamool Congress leader and Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had reservations over Nitish Kumar being given the role.

RJD's Tejashwi Yadav, who is Bihar CM Nitish Kumar's deputy, had pointed back then that Mamata Banerjee had opted out of the meeting and asserted that her approval should not dictate the decision, given the majority's support for Kumar. Neither Sonia Gandhi nor Mallikarjun Kharge attempted to override Rahul Gandhi at that time, the report said.

Sources close to say that Nitish Kumar, at that time, believed this way he would never attain his goal of ousting Narendra Modi. Consequently, he adopted the mindset of "if you can't beat him, join him," according to the sources cited in the report.

JD(U)-BJP Deal Finalised?

A BJP ally has claimed that the stage is set for the fall of the grand JD(U)-RJD-Congress alliance government in Bihar, and the BJP-led NDA will back Nitish Kumar once he breaks his ties with the RJD, the biggest constituent of the INDIA bloc in the state.

JD(U) spokesperson KC Tyagi told reporters in Patna that his party considers itself an architect of the INDIA bloc and asked Congress leaders like Rahul Gandhi and party president Mallikarjun Kharge to address the concerns that partners like Trinamool Congress and Aam Aadmi Party have voiced.

Reports, citing sources, say that Nitish Kumar may take oath as the chief minister of the JD(U)-BJP-led Bihar government on Sunday, January 28, while senior leader of the saffron party, Sushil Modi, may be sworn in as his deputy.

Hints Dropped By Nitish

Several recent instances, that can now be seen as hints dropped by Nitish Kumar, are being attributed to the speculation that his alliance with the RJD is likely to collapse and the JD(U) leader is planning a return to the BJP-led NDA, which he had quit less than two years ago.

While addressing the rally in Patna on Thursday, Nitish Kumar criticised "dynastic politics", something that Congress is often called out for. Nitish stated that JD(U) followed the path shown by the late leader by not promoting anyone from the family in the party ranks. 

This was followed by the Bihar BJP backing Nitish Kumar on Thursday after RJD supremo Lalu Pasad's Singapore-based daughter Rohini Acharya allegedly "insulted" the chief minister for the dynasty politics post. Bihar BJP leader Nikhil Anand claimed Acharya had used derogatory language against Kumar.

Sharing a screenshot of the purported deleted posts, Anand said, "These are like an arrow released from the bow.” The BJP leader said if Acharya regrets having used words like ‘badtameez’ [ill-mannered] against the chief minister in the post, she should publicly express regret and apologise. 

A section of the media claimed that Acharya had reacted to Kumar's statement against dynastic politics at a JD(U) rally commemorating former Bihar chief minister and socialist icon Karpoori Thakur's birth anniversary on Wednesday. Thakur was conferred with the Bharat Ratna posthumously earlier this week.

Meanwhile, Nitish Kumar is said to also have opted out of attending the Rahul GAndhi-led Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra which will enter Bihar on January 29.