The recently reported political situation in Bihar has raised tensions between the JD(U) and the BJP. In August 2022, Nitish Kumar led the JD(U) out of the NDA and joined forces with the RJD, prompting the BJP to express relief at the departure. However, confidentially, BJP leaders acknowledged that the JD(U)’s exit could affect the party’s 2024 Lok Sabha prospects in Bihar, a critical Hindi heartland state.
Recent discussions between the Bihar Chief Minister and top BJP officials have sparked rumors of the JD(U) rejoining the NDA. According to sources, the return of the JD(U) would not only lift the morale of the BJP but also significantly weaken the INDIA bloc at the national level. These talks, which have been ongoing for several days, have been subject to certain conditions set by the BJP state unit, including the insistence that Nitish should not continue as CM.
Despite these conditions, it is clear that Nitish Kumar is eager to return to the BJP and be a part of the NDA again. It is worth noting that in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the alliance with the BJP helped the JD(U) win 16 out of 17 seats it contested. Nitish recognizes the potential for the JD(U) to secure more seats in alliance with the BJP, particularly given the current wave of support for the BJP due to the Ram Temple in Ayodhya.
The BJP has based its electoral calculations for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections entirely on the absence or presence of the JD(U). The presence of the JD(U) and its 15% vote share would greatly benefit the BJP, significantly impacting the INDIA bloc. Furthermore, the relevance of Nitish Kumar and his JD(U) in Bihar’s electoral landscape cannot be overlooked, particularly in a state where caste plays a crucial role in politics.
While the potential return of the JD(U) to the NDA would be a significant win for the BJP, it could also be a significant setback for the INDIA bloc. The recent snubs from other regional parties, such as the Trinamool Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party, have further highlighted the potential fragmentation of the Opposition. The BJP has indicated that its doors are open to individual leaders and smaller parties, indicating a potential realignment in the lead-up to the Lok Sabha elections.
Overall, the political dynamics in Bihar are evolving, with potential implications for both the NDA and the INDIA bloc. The BJP’s strategic maneuvering and the JD(U)’s potential re-entry into the alliance will undoubtedly shape the electoral landscape in Bihar in the coming years.