Bihar Election Result 2020: From Nitish Kumar to Nityanand Rai; who will be next Bihar Chief Minister
While Nitish Kumar is the most likely candidate for chief ministers, the BJP's increased dominance in the state means that the saffron party could now stake claim for the top job
With the Bihar Assembly election done and dusted, the question that now remains is who will lead the state for the next five years. While Janata Dal (United) president Nitish Kumar is the most likely candidate, the party's greatly reduced numbers mean that the Bharatiya Janata Party may now want to stake claim for the top spot.
Here is a list of possible chief ministers of Bihar in the aftermath of the closely-contested Assembly election:
For now, Nitish Kumar is likely to return as chief minister for the fourth time, albeit with a severely diminished mandate. The BJP has, at least officially, backed him for the top job. Deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi has been quoted by NDTV as saying, "Nitishji will remain Chief Minister as it was our commitment. There is no confusion on this."
Kumar was earlier a part of the Mahagathbandhan but later switched sides to the BJP in a political coup in 2017.
Before his tenures as chief minisers, the JD(U) chief has also been a part of Central governments. He became minister of state for agriculture in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government and then briefly the railway minister in 1999. He resigned after the train tragedy at Gaisal in West Bengal in 1999 in which nearly 300 people were killed.
Later, Kumar reworked his social engineering strategy and made a rainbow coalition of OBCs, EBCs, Mahadalits and minorities that helped him sweep Bihar in November 2005 elections, thereby uprooting 15 years of uninterrupted Lalu-Rabri rule.
He had resigned from the chief minister's post after the JD(U)'s massive Lok Sabha defeat in May 2014 after which his protegee Jitan Ram Manjhi became the chief minister. Nitish later pulled Manjhi down to assume power again in February 2015 for a fourth term.
If the BJP decides to throw a surprise and attempts to install a chief minister of its own, a prominent leader who could take up the post is Nityanand Rai.
Rai has been associated with the Sangh Parivar since 1981, when he joined the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) as a student activist. He later ended the Congress' influence in Hajipur, and represented the constituency from 2000 to 2010.
Rai was later the president of the Bihar BJP from 2016 to 2019. He took over as chief of the Bihar BJP a year after the party was defeated by the Mahagathbandhan (of which the JD(U) was then a part).
Amit Shah, while campaigning ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, had promised that the BJP would give an 'important job' to Rai if he wins. Rai subsequently become Minister of State for Home in the Union Cabinet.
As noted by an article in Quint, Rai hails from the Yadav caste, which is the most numerically dominant one in Bihar. Further, unlike many other Bihar BJP leaders, he is not seen as someone who suffers from the baggage of the Nitish Kumar years — which is important in the context of the JD(U) leader's declining popularity.
Sushil Kumar Modi
Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi is considered to be the BJP's 'organisation man' with a formidable clout in the state.
Modi, like Nitish and Lalu Prasad Yadav, cut his political teeth with the 1974-1975 JP (Jayaprakash Narayan) movement. He, however, joined active politics in the mid-1980s and became the leader of Opposition in 1996. This was after Yashwant Sinha had to resign from the post due to the alleged hawala scam, as noted by The Indian Express.
Sushil Kumar Modi has been Nitish's deputy on three occasions, the first being in 2005.
According to an article by NDTV, Modi is considered as the architect of the collapse of the Mahagathbandhan and the alliance between the BJP and JD(U) in 2017. The BJP leader at the time had led an active campaign against the RJD's Lalu Prasad Yadav, accusing him and his family of corruption.
Another BJP leader who is in the fray is "firebrand" BJP leader and Union Minister Giriraj Singh. Giriraj Singh's equation with the JD(U) has not exactly been cordial in the recent past, and he has targeted the regional party over many issues ranging from floods to iftar parties. But with Nitish's popularity having taken a hit this elections, that may not be an impediment.
Singh was first elected to Bihar Legislative Council in 2002. Between 2008 and 2010, he was appointed as cooperative minister in Government of Bihar. In 2010, he was appointed as the Minister of Animal Husbandry and Fisheries Resource Development in the Bihar government.
Singh has often been in the news for controversial statements, many of them targeting Muslims. Ahead of the Delhi election, he had claimed that Shaheen Bagh has become the breeding ground for suicide bombers and a conspiracy was being plotted against the nation from there.
He has also stated that India is 'paying the price' for not sending Muslims to Pakistan and bringing all Hindus back to India after Independence.
Singh is presently the Minister of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries in the Union Cabinet.
With inputs from PTI
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