Will Lalu Prasad Yadav Give Another Chance To Nitish Kumar? What He Said

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Nitish Kumar and Lalu Yadav are long-time friends and enemies (File).


The dramatic INDIA-to-NDA jump by Nitish Kumar last month – dumping the Congress and long-time frenemy Lalu Prasad Yadav to realign with the Bharatiya Janata Party, and inviting fierce jabs from former allies – was seen as the Janata Dal (United) boss burning bridges, perhaps so comprehensively that even the Bihar Chief Minister’s ‘paltu Kumar’ avatar may not be able to rebuild them.

Such, however, may not be the case, with Mr Yadav telling news agency ANI, “(J)ab aayenge toh dekhenge, khula hi rehta hai darwaaza… (When he comes, we will see… door is always open.”

Lalu Yadav’s surprising comment came days after he ran into Nitish Kumar at the Bihar Assembly, as the former’s party was nominating Manoj Jha and Sanjay Yadav to be its Rajya Sabha candidates.

That was the first time the two – who have dominated Bihar’s political landscape for decades, and have fallen in and out of favour with each other several times in the past – had met since Nitish Kumar cut ties with Lalu Yadav and went back to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP.

Mr Yadav’s son, Tejashwi Yadav, who was twice the Deputy Chief Minister under Nitish Kumar, has been less forgiving, and ripped into his ex-boss during the trust vote this week.

READ | “Are We Here To Entertain You?” Tejashwi Yadav Takedowns Nitish Kumar

However, judging by what the JDU leader said last week, (another) U-turn is off the table.

Nitish Kumar declared to reporters “…we (the BJP and the JDU) were together earlier (but) twice I went ‘idhar, udhar (here, there)’. Now I have come (back). I will be there permanently now.”

READ | “Will Stay Permanently With NDA Now”, Says Nitish Kumar

That said, the relationship between the two veterans is the stuff of legend.

Dubbed ‘bada bhai, chhota bhai (big brother, little brother)’ in Bihar political circles, the two have been inseparable, in thought if not practice, since the 1970s, when they were student leaders.

That does not mean they haven’t had their bitter moments, apart from regularly trading jabs when placing each other in the ‘enemy’ column. They fought each other bitterly in the post-Mandal era.

In fact, the ‘paltu‘ sobriquet was bestowed on Nitish Kumar by Lalu Yadav.

What Happened In Bihar This Time?

Last month, with a general election looming large and after spending months stitching together an unlikely alliance of opposition parties (the INDIA bloc), Nitish Kumar triggered an avalanche of political uncertainty by snubbing Congress MP Rahul Gandhi’s ‘Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra’.

The immediate triggers were said to be tension between the JDU and the RJD over matters of governance, and a barbed social media post from Lalu Yadav’s daughter, Rohini Acharya.

NDTV Explains | The Tweet That Led To Shock Nitish Kumar Move

Being passed over by the INDIA bloc for key posts, including a potential prime ministerial candidate, and delays over seat-sharing deals, reportedly added to Nitish Kumar’s distinct unhappiness.

Whatever the reasons for the switch, it underlined the volatile nature of Bihar’s politics, and the added to the many flip-flops of Nitish Kumar, who has now jumped between (and squabbled with) various allies six times since 2013, and has been sworn in as chief minister nine times in that period.

READ | New Alliance, Same Nitish Kumar – Bihar Chief Minister’s Record 9th Oath

His back-and-forth with Lalu Yadav includes dumping the BJP to ally with the RJD (and Congress) in 2013, and then leaving the Mahagathbandhan to return to the BJP’s side four years later.

Fast forward five more years, and, in 2022, Nitish Kumar then quit the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance and re-joined the Mahagathbandhan. And now, the JDU boss has flipped back to the NDA.

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