Bihar political crisis: A look at the tweetstorm surrounding Mahagathbandhan's demise

On Wednesday morning, many hours before news of Nitish Kumar's resignation as Bihar chief minister broke, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter and congratulated Kumar for taking a stand against corruption:

Even to the casual observer, the timing of Modi's tweets are both interesting and instructive. It hints that much has been going on in the corridors of power, out of public view.

After Nitish resigned, Lalu Prasad Yadav took to Twitter, accusing him of hypocrisy:

Congress leaders Salman Nizami and Digvijaya Singh also slammed Nitish:

 

But many say this split was inevitable. Ever since Nitish and Lalu put aside their differences and joined hands with the Congress to form the Mahagathbandhan in 2015,  tensions have been bubbling under the surface. This Grand Alliance, projecting Nitish as its face, was a wall built specifically to stem the tide of the Modi wave ahead of the Bihar legislative elections. It was a matter of survival.

File image of Lalu Prasad Yadav and Nitish Kumar. CNN-News18

File image of Lalu Prasad Yadav and Nitish Kumar. CNN-News18

And it paid off, big time. The Grand Alliance routed the BJP, winning 178 out of 243 Assembly seats.  But right off the bat, tensions ran high.

A series of unfortunate events for Grand Alliance

In January 2016, RJD national vice-president Raghuvansh Prasad Singh hit out at the chief minister, blaming him for the state's deteriorating security situation.  In September 2016, just minutes after politician Mohammad Shahabuddin was released from jail, he took a shot at Nitish, calling him a "chief minister of circumstances".

The chief minister responded to the verbal dig and quipped that the people of Bihar had given him a mandate and that they knew whom they had lent their support to. In a move that raised eyebrows, at the end of September, Nitish broke with his comrades and praised the Centre's surgical strikes.  

In November 2016, Nitish bucked the Grand Alliance yet again, calling demonetisation a direct strike on black money and saying that he supported Modi's move.

In January 2017, Modi returned the compliment when he shared a stage with Nitish, praising him for the prohibition drive and calling it an inspiration. Nitish responded by praising Modi as "our honourable prime minister" and complimented him on keeping Gujarat a dry state.

In March, JD(U) leader Ajay Alok took to Twitter, slamming the alliance partners RJD and Congress for the lack of development in Bihar:

 Things began heating up in May, when Nitish skipped lunch organised by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi for Opposition leaders to discuss their presidential candidate and instead had a meeting with Modi. He deputed senior JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav to attend the Opposition lunch in his stead.

In May, Lalu's son Tejashwi and BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi traded barbs on Twitter after Sushil raised questions over two RJD leaders protesting the Grand Alliance. Sushil tweeted:

Tejashwi replied:

On 30 May, Tejashwi, taking umbrage at allegations of corruption levelled against his family by Sushil, slammed the BJP leader on Twitter and challenged him to choose any seat in municipal or ward polls and said “any person nominated by Lalu Prasad would trounce him”.


In June, Nitish decided to back Ram Nath Kovind for president and called to inform Sonia and Lalu that he was doing so because he shared a great rapport with Kovind. In July, the CBI raided Lalu's Patna home, among a dozen other places in an alleged land scam and named his wife Rabri Devi in their police complaint.

The very next day, Lalu's daughter Misa Bharti saw Enforcement Directorate (ED) raids conducted at three different places owner by her in connection with a Rs 1,000 crore benami scam. Two days later, the RJD chief held a meeting of party legislators in Patna and ruled out the resignation of his son Tejashwi as the Bihar's deputy chief minister.

Sonia then reportedly called both Lalu and Nitish over the phone — at the urging of JD(U) leaders who did not want the crisis to spiral out of control — in an attempt to save the Grand Alliance.

On 18 July, Tejashwi, along with his brother Tej Pratap and Congress minister Ashok Choudhary, attended a Cabinet meeting chaired by Nitish.

While it was not clear exactly what transpired during the meeting, it seemed that the Grand Alliance was intact. However, after the closed-door meet, JD(U) leaders stated that corruption charges against Tejashwi were not discussed and that the party was still awaiting for his explanation.

On Wednesday, Lalu emphatically stated that Tejashwi would not resign and stated that Nitish had not asked for his resignation.

Later that day, Nitish quit the Grand Alliance and tendered his resignation as chief minister. Lalu responded by alleging that Nitish had broken the Grand Alliance and had signed up with the BJP because he was facing trial for murdering a man in 1991.

Follow live blog on Bihar political crisis here


Published Date: Jul 27, 2017 10:07 am | Updated Date: Jul 27, 2017 10:11 am


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