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Updated January 28th, 2024 at 18:41 IST

TOP STORY/ More Than CM's Chair, 40 LS Seats in Focus Amid Bihar Political Tussle

The focal point of Bihar's political turmoil goes beyond the Chief Ministerial seat and revolves more around the control and significance of the 40 LS seats.

Digital Desk
Bihar political turmoil
Bihar political turmoil | Image:PTI
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Bihar Politics: All eyes are set on Bihar as Nitish Kumar is set to take oath as state Chief Minister for a record 9th time. After stepping down from his post, Nitish indicated that he was not feeling happy with the way things were in the Mahagathbandhan in the state as well as the INDI bloc that he helped take shape but which failed to adequately recognise his efforts. "You all know how I came to this alliance and also how I worked to bring together so many parties. But of late things were not working well. It was not going down well with those in my party as well", said Kumar, while talking to reporters after submitting his resignation to Governor Rajendra Arlekar.

40 Lok Sabha Seats in Focus Over Chief Ministerial Throne

The focal point of Bihar's political turmoil goes beyond the Chief Ministerial seat and revolves more around the control and significance of the 40 Lok Sabha seats within the state. The intricate dynamics of political negotiations and alliances are underscored by the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) stake in these 40 Lok Sabha seats. The BJP, having secured victory in 39 of these seats in collaboration with Nitish Kumar, underscores the critical role these parliamentary constituencies play in shaping Bihar's political terrain. The struggle for power, therefore, unfolds not just within the realm of state governance but is intricately tied to the pivotal influence held by these 40 parliamentary seats in the ongoing political tussle.  

 

Following this, the BJP might be inclined to endorse Nitish Kumar for the Chief Ministerial position,  political experts familiar with Bihar's political landscape suggest.  The potential agreement on Nitish Kumar as Chief Minister could be seen as a strategic move to maintain and strengthen the BJP's political influence in the region.

How Numbers Stack Up in Bihar Assembly?

The current numbers in the 243-member Bihar Assembly lean favourably towards the JDU and BJP if the parties decide to forge a new alliance. The magic number for forming a government in the Bihar Assembly is 122.

If Nitish Kumar's JDU and the BJP come together, their combined strength of 123 assembly seats positions them well to form a government. Specifically, the JDU has 45 assembly seats, while the BJP secured 78 seats in the 2020 Bihar Assembly elections.

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In the 2020 Bihar assembly elections, the RJD emerged as the single largest party, followed by the BJP in second place, and the JDU in the third spot. Take a look at the current seat distribution in the 243-seat Assembly:

  • RJD: 79
  • BJP: 78
  • JD(U): 45
  • CONGRESS: 19
  • LEFT: 16
  • HAM (S): 4
  • AIMIM: 1
  • IND: 1

Why is Nitish Upset And What Went Wrong?

Nitish has been cut up with the INDIA bloc for not getting a position in the alliance commensurate with his stature and also favours an early assembly poll to go with the Lok Sabha elections, a suggestion which has not drawn a positive response from the RJD, the biggest party in the state's ruling alliance, sources said.

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JD(U) and RJD leaders have also been sniping at each other amid apprehensions among Kumar's supporters that their ally has been trying to undermine him in matters of governance as well as politics.

Kumar's decision to take over as the party president by cutting short the tenure of Lalan Singh was seen as a determined effort by him to take firm control of its organisation amid suggestions by a section of JD(U) leaders that the chief minister's confidant may have grown too close to the RJD or was pursuing an independent agenda.

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The RJD has, however, taken some placatory moves by first agreeing to the relegation of Education Minister Chandra Shekhar to the relatively insignificant portfolio of sugarcane industries.

Acharya also deleted her posts targeting the chief minister without naming him, hours after putting them out. The Bihar BJP accused Acharya, who does not hold any position in the RJD, of insulting Kumar and demanded an apology from her.  

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END of INDI?

The INDI bloc has been marred by incoherence and distrust, with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Singh Mann dealing double blows that their parties, the TMC and AAP respectively, will go solo in the Lok Sabha elections expected in April-May.

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Signs of disconnect among the INDI parties in Bihar will suit the BJP in the run-up to the elections as the same alliance had handed it a big defeat in the 2015 assembly polls before Kumar joined hands again with the BJP-led NDA, which then swept the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. He vaulted into the opposition's alliance in 2022 as the BJP grew increasingly assertive following his party's sub-par performance in the 2020 assembly polls.

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Published January 26th, 2024 at 18:25 IST

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