On January 28, Nitish Kumar, who was uniting the Opposition to take on BJP until yesterday, took oath as Bihar Chief Minister on Sunday with BJP as the new alliance partner.
Nitish Kumar, the leader of Janata Dal-United (JDU), took the oath of office as the chief minister of Bihar for the ninth time, indicating a radical change in alignments. The architect of the former “Mahagathbandhan” parted with the Congress and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) to create an alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
With the introduction of a reorganised team at the Raj Bhavan swearing-in event, which featured important figures like Samrat Choudhary and Vijay Kumar Sinha among others, Bihar’s political scene had been prepared for revival.
Samrat Choudhary, the recently nominated BJP state president and deputy chief minister, is at the centre of this change. Mr. Choudhary, a well-known figure in Bihar politics, has previously promised to remove his turban only once his party wins the state’s election. The 54-year-old, whose political career has taken him through several parties, including the RJD and the JDU, took over as the state BJP president in March of last year.
Mr. Choudhary, an OBC leader from Koeri, has served as Minister of Metrology and Horticulture, Minister of Health, and Minister for Urban Development and Housing in the past. However, 64-year-old Vijay Kumar Sinha is a member of the powerful upper caste Bhumihar group.
Mr. Sinha’s political adventure started when he joined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) student wing, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, while he was a civil engineering student at a polytechnic in Barauni. Mr. Sinha was born to a school teacher in the Lakhisarai region. When Mr. Sinha first appeared in the Bihar Assembly in 2010, that was when he was first introduced to electoral politics. He was named Minister of Labour Resources seven years later.
He was elected Speaker of the Bihar Assembly in 2020. During his time as Speaker, he oversaw events like Nitish Kumar’s tantrum on the House floor and the tense situation in which RJD members abducted him in his chamber in 2021.
The BJP’s deliberate attempt to balance caste issues is highlighted by the deputy chief ministerial team of Mr Choudhary and Mr Sinha. In order to maintain the backing of the majority upper caste base, this calculated pairing seeks to appease OBCs.
Leaders such as Prem Kumar, Vijay Kumar Chaudhary, Vijendra Yadav, Santosh Kumar Suman, Shravan Kumar, and Independent MLA Sumit Kumar Singh are part of the larger cabinet. Like Nitish Kumar, JDU’s Shravan Kumar is a member of the Kurmi community. As per the latest caste survey conducted in Bihar, the Kurmis comprise 2.8% of the overall population.