The Congress on August 9 said it will support any non-BJP government in Bihar to help strengthen secular forces amid hectic political activity in the State where Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has ended JD(U)’s alliance with the BJP.
Sources said the Congress, which has 19 legislators in the Bihar Assembly, will go by what the RJD decides and its presence will help strengthen the coalition.
They added that like in Maharashtra where the Congress helped stitch together the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government by supporting the Shiv Sena which was ideologically different from it, it could align with Kumar who has remained with them in the past.
“Ours is an ideological battle and we are not fighting for power. The Congress will support any non-BJP government and help strengthen secular forces,” Congress general secretary Tariq Anwar told PTI.
“Because Nitish Kumar is leaving the BJP and coming over, we will support him,” he said, adding whatever steps are needed to strengthen secular forces and defeat the communal forces the grand old party will take.
The JD(U) has 45 legislators and RJD has 79 MLAs, while the BJP has only 75 MLAs in the 243 member State Assembly in Bihar.
The CPI-ML has 12 MLAs, CPI-M and CPI have two MLAs each, while one MLA is of AIMIM. The Hindustani Awam Morcha of former Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi has four legislators and one is independent, while one seat is vacant.
Sources in Patna said Mr. Kumar has split with ally BJP and is likely to meet Governor Phagu Chauhan later in the day.
Though no official announcements have been made, senior RJD leader Upendra Kushwaha in a tweet congratulated Kumar for leading a “new coalition in new form,” implicitly acknowledging the split and embracing the RJD-led ‘Mahagathbandhan’ (Grand Alliance) to continue in office.
Mr. Kumar, who has been promised the support of Opposition parties, sought time from Mr. Chauhan, who has given an appointment at 4 p.m., they said.
A meeting of the RJD-led Grand Alliance, comprising the Left and the Congress, also took place at Rabri Devi’s house, where all the MLAs are said to have signed a letter of support to Mr. Kumar.
Leader of the Opposition Tejashwi Yadav is likely to visit the CM’s residence to hand over the letter of support any time.
The CM is understood to have told party legislators and MPs, at a meeting he convened at his official residence, that he had been driven against the wall by the BJP which tried to weaken his JD(U), first by propping up Chirag Paswan’s rebellion and later through the party’s former national president RCP Singh.
Mr. Singh was made a cabinet minister at the Centre without Mr. Kumar’s explicit agreement. Consequently, when his term as a Rajya Sabha member ended, the JD(U) refused to give him another term as an MP, thus ending his stint as cabinet minister as well.
Relations between the BJP and the JD(U) have been worsening in the wake of disagreements over a host of issues including caste census, population control and the ‘Agnipath’ defence recruitment scheme.
CPIML (Liberation) general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya had told PTI on Monday that the crux of the row between JD(U) and BJP also stemmed from the recent statement by J.P. Nadda, president of the saffron party, who said regional parties “have no future”.
The BJP, meanwhile, has gone into a huddle at the residence of Deputy CM Tarkishore Prasad, where all ministers belonging to the party besides state president Sanjay Jaiswal and other senior leaders are also present.