Why Nitish Kumar Forged An Alliance With BJP Again

For the BJP, an alliance with Nitish Kumar will not only help the party win more seats but it will be the biggest setback for the Congress-led INDIA alliance as Nitish was instrumental in cementing this alliance. 

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar with his deputy Tejashwi Yadav, in Patna Photo: PTI

In a major bid to ensure a big win in upcoming general elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has once again cracked the deal with Nitish Kumar. 

Nitish Kumar resigned from the chief minister post and announced that he would be taking oath with new alliance partner Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). "I have resigned as the Chief Minister and have also told the Governor to dissolve the government," Nitish Kumar said soon after meeting the Governor on Sunday morning.

This would be the 8th time that Nitish Kumar is taking oath as a chief minister in the last 18 years. He was with the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD)-led Mahagathbandhan - Grand Alliance - which includes Congress and Lleft parties. He had won the 2020 state assembly elections with the BJP but dumped the alliance in August 2022 and joined hands with the Grand Alliance. 

According to sources, BJP and JDU went through tough bargaining and they came to a term when both sides felt comfortable. Sources said that the central leadership of BJP was more inclined to go with Nitish Kumar whereas state leaders had opined not to go with him.

Central leadership wanted to win as many seats as possible in Bihar and they felt that it could be possible only if Nitish Kumar was on their side.

Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United)- JDU has about 16 per cent fixed votes, no matter if he is with the RJD or BJP or as an independent. During the 2014 general elections, despite a wave generated by Narendra Modi, JDU secured 15.8 per cent votes when it fought alone. In the 2019 general elections, it secured 21.81 per cent votes, up by 6 per cent due to the 'Modi effect'. 

In the 2015 assembly elections, JDU secured 16.8 per cent votes when it was with Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD). In the 2020 state assembly elections, JDU was with BJP and despite Chirag Paswan’s all-out efforts to diminish JDU, the party managed to secure 15.39 per cent of votes.

“BJP’s central leadership is more concerned about the 2024 general elections. They know that Nitish has fixed votes which will help the party win many seats in the state. That is why despite state leaders' resistance they cracked the deal with him,” Patna-based journalist Chandan says. 

For the BJP, an alliance with Nitish Kumar will not only help the party win more seats but it will be the biggest setback for the Congress-led INDIA alliance as Nitish was instrumental in cementing this alliance. 

“It will be an embarrassing situation for the INDIA alliance as the BJP will advertise that the man who played a pivotal role in forming the INDIA alliance is now with the BJP. The move of Nitish Kumar will hugely impact the morale of the INDIA alliance partners,” political analyst Mahendra Suman says. 

“This way BJP has killed two birds with one stone,” he added.

For JDU, according to party sources, the deal was aimed at ensuring the Chief Minister’s chair for Nitish in the 2025 assembly elections. 

A source in JDU told Outlook, “Mamata Banerjee, Arvind Kejriwal, and other major INDIA alliance partners are not happy with Congress' attitude, so it will impact the prospect of the alliance in 2024 general elections. If the INDIA alliance performs poorly, which is very possible, then it will have an impact on the 2025 assembly elections in Bihar. We don't want to take that risk.”

"On the other hand despite the all-out efforts of Nitish Kumar in forming INDIA Alliance, he didn't get anything, so there was no point of staying with it," the source said.

The source added that BJP is currently ready to accommodate them on their terms which includes more Lok sabha seats, a special announcement for Bihar, and more cordial relations with BJP’s state leadership. 

Nitish Kumar had started his political career as a socialist leader from his college time. He claims to be a shishya of Jay Prakash Narayan. He had a long alliance with the BJP and he was the central minister during the Atal Bihar Bajpayee government. Despite being with the BJP for so long, he carefully kept his socialist and secular image intact to a large extent and that is why he is still acceptable to Congress, RJD, Left as well as other anti-BJP parties. 

Nitish forging an alliance with the BJP did not come suddenly. The discussions had been going on for the last six months. 

JDU leader KC Tyagi was included in Nitish’s core team as the party’s spokesperson and special advisor in May last year to deliberate with the BJP and after things went smoothly between both the parties, JDU MP Lallan Singh, who is considered to be close to RJD and critical to BJP, was removed from the post of JDU’s national president. 

“He always wanted power at any cost. So wherever he sees more opportunities he goes with them,” veteran journalist Ganga Prasad told Outlook.