Nitish Kumar tweeted a list of 35 invitees who had confirmed their presence at the November 20 swearing-in which will see him become Bihar’s chief minister for the fifth time — including his first stint for seven days in 2000.
As Nitish rolls out the red carpet for political leaders like former PM HD Deve Gowda, NCP’s Sharad Pawar and nine chief ministers including West Bengal’s Mamata Banerjee and Delhi’s Arvind Kejriwal, he may well succeed in providing the first contours of an emerging anti-BJP front at the national level — a direct fall-out of the BJP losing the Bihar assembly elections.
Tomorrow’s function would signal the beginning of changing political equations after Modi losing some of his clout post the Bihar election.
Nitish Kumar knows he has the potential to become the nucleus of an anti-Modi front which may start to take shape before the West Bengal assembly elections in 2016. RJD chief Lalu Prasad has spoken of going to Varanasi – the PM’s Lok Sabha constituency — to launch a campaign against Modi but the focus is on Nitish Kumar who has emerged stronger after the Grand Alliance’s thumping victory. If it was Narendra Modi who won round one against Nitish in 2014 by becoming PM and the NDA winning 31 of 40 Bihar Lok Sabha seats, Nitish has won round two in this clash between them. In doing so, he poses a realistic challenge to Modi.
The swearing-in could also serve as an occasion for a “patch up” with Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav most likely to attend Nitish’s swearing in — UP CM Akhilesh Yadav has already confirmed his participation. The SP had walked out of the Grand Alliance just before the Bihar polls; it may well have to rethink its political formulations before the 2017 UP assembly elections.
The presence of two Shiv Sena ministers and the likely presence of SAD leader Sukhbir Singh Badal are also indications of Nitish’s growing popularity. Though Nitish may not talk about his national ambitions at such an early stage, other anti-BJP camp leaders have already started to look up to him as someone who could stop the Modi juggernaut.
Meanwhile, the RJD and Congress will join the Nitish Kumar government with the formula of one minister for every five MLAs. Thus, the Congress is set to get five ministers, the RJD will get 16 and the JD (U) 15. Each party is likely to hold a few positions vacant from its quota – there is talk of Lalu’s two sons becoming ministers and the RJD not insisting on the deputy CM post for now.