30 Jan 2024

How Nitish Kumar's Party Switch will Impact INDIA Alliance and What Will be Broader National Impact

On Sunday, Nitish Kumar made a significant political move by joining the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). This decision dealt a substantial blow to the Indian National Development Inclusive Alliance (India), a coalition opposing Narendra Modi in the upcoming 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

Nitish Kumar, the Chief Minister and leader of the Janata Dal United (JDU), played a pivotal role in forming the 'India' alliance. His departure marks a strategic shift, impacting the dynamics of the political landscape.

Timing of Nitish Kumar's move 

The timing of Nitish Kumar's move coincided with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's 'Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra' entering Bihar, creating a potential advantage for the NDA. BJP strategists appear to have chosen this moment to enhance the NDA's position, providing a psychological edge over the 'India' alliance, currently grappling with seat-sharing issues in multiple states.

The BJP gauges that the recent consecration of the Ram temple in Ayodhya has fostered a favorable environment for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's popularity, particularly in North India, potentially leading to his third term in power. Recent victories in assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Rajasthan have bolstered the BJP's influence in Hindi-speaking states.

BJP feared that 2019 results might not be replicated

Nitish Kumar's earlier association with the grand alliance in 2022 had caused unease within the BJP-led coalition in Bihar. Despite Rashtriya Janata Dal's dominance with 79 assembly seats, the BJP-led alliance had clinched an impressive 39 out of 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar during the 2019 elections. However, fears lingered that the 2019 results might not be replicated with Nitish Kumar aligning with the grand alliance.

2020 assembly elections witnessed a setback for JDU

The 2020 assembly elections witnessed a setback for JDU, with its seats reduced to 42. Allegations surfaced that BJP's support for Chirag Paswan, the son of Ram Vilas Paswan, had played a role in diminishing JDU's chances of victory. Although LJP did not secure many seats, it allegedly garnered enough votes to impact 32 constituencies.

With Nitish Kumar now aligning with the BJP, there is optimism among BJP strategists about replicating the 2019 electoral success in the upcoming 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

Questions about Nitish's ideological commitment

While Nitish Kumar's switch may have little impact outside Bihar, it has raised questions about his ideological commitment. Despite being a six-time MP and holding a significant position in the central government, Nitish Kumar has not emerged as a national leader with influence beyond his home state.

Looking ahead to the 2024 elections, the RJD, led by Tejashwi Yadav, has gained traction by delivering on promises such as job creation. The emphasis on increased reservation for marginalized communities could potentially mobilize support against the BJP's aggressive Hindutva agenda. 

Nitish Kumar's departure from the 'India' alliance marks a significant turn, but the broader national impact remains to be seen..

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