New Delhi: In a political turnaround, Janata Dal-United (JDU) chief Nitish Kumar assumed office as Bihar Chief Minister for the ninth time, signaling a significant realignment of alliances. Breaking away from the ‘Mahagathbandhan,’ Kumar severed ties with the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Congress, opting for a coalition with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The swearing-in ceremony at Raj Bhavan not only marked this political shift but also introduced a reshaped team, with key players such as Samrat Choudhary, Vijay Kumar Sinha, and others, setting the stage for a political renaissance in Bihar.
At the core of this transition is Samrat Choudhary, the newly appointed Deputy Chief Minister and BJP state President. A prominent figure in Bihar politics, Choudhary, 54, had pledged to discard his turban only upon his party’s ascension to power in the state. Taking over as the state BJP chief in March last year, he brings with him a political journey that traverses multiple parties, including the RJD and the JDU.
An OBC leader from the Koeri community, Mr. Choudhary has previously held key positions, serving as the Minister for Urban Development and Housing, Health, and Minister of Metrology and Horticulture.
On the other hand, Vijay Kumar Sinha, 64, hailing from the influential upper-caste Bhumihar community, adds another dimension to the political landscape. Starting his political journey with the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the student wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), during his civil engineering days, Sinha made his electoral debut in 2010 in the Bihar Assembly. Seven years later, he assumed the role of Minister of Labour Resources, followed by becoming the Speaker of the Bihar Assembly in 2020.
His tenure as the Speaker was marked by notable instances, including Nitish Kumar’s outburst on the House floor and a tense episode where he was held hostage inside his chamber by members of the RJD in 2021.
The strategic appointment of the deputy chief ministerial duo, Choudhary and Sinha, underscores a calculated move by the BJP to balance caste considerations. This alliance aims to appease OBCs while retaining the support of the core upper-caste base.
The broader cabinet includes leaders like Prem Kumar, Vijay Kumar Chaudhary, Vijendra Yadav, Santosh Kumar Suman, Shravan Kumar, and Independent MLA Sumit Kumar Singh. Shravan Kumar, from JDU, belongs to the Kurmi community, mirroring Nitish Kumar’s background. According to the recent Bihar caste survey, Kurmis constitute 2.8 per cent of the total population. Bihar’s political landscape has undeniably shifted with this new alliance, promising a dynamic era for the state.