New Delhi: When five Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) MPs decided to expel party president Chirag Paswan from his post, Paswan laid the blame for the same on the shoulders of Bihar CM Nitish Kumar. According to Chirag Paswan, Nitish Kumar had deputed his trusted lieutenant and party Lok Sabha MP Rajiv Ranjan, alias Lalan Singh, MLC Sanjay Singh and Bihar Assembly deputy speaker Maheshwar Hazari to engineer the split in the LJP. It is not for the first time that Kumar has been accused of breaking his rivals from the inside.

In July 2005, 21 of the 29 LJP MLAs, who had won in the February 2005 elections, joined the JDU to support Nitish Kumar’s bid for the CM post. Among those who were “turned” by Nitish included Bihar LJP president Narendra Singh and Nagmani, a former central minister. This happened even as Ram Vilas Paswan, who was the party president, famously claimed that the key to the next state’s next chief minister was with him. JDU General Secretary, K.C. Tyagi, while speaking to The Sunday Guardian on the political developments that the LJP is witnessing, said that the LJP leaders and the cadre had no belief in Chirag Paswan.

“His own party people have lost belief in his ability to lead the party, hence the present situation. He is not Ram Vilas Paswan. Ram Vilas Paswan reached his position after giving 50 years of his life while working for the weak, he was a Lohiaite, an Ambedkarite and a Socialite. Chirag Paswan, on other hand, has not sat on a dharna for even one hour for that section of society whom he claims to represent. I agree with Pashupati Kumar Paras who has said that if LJP had stayed with NDA, he would have 20-25 MLAs today, his mother would have been a Rajya Sabha MP and he would have been a Union minister. Chirag Paswan damaged his own prospects and his party’s prospects. Our party would have won on at least 45 more seats if he had not done what he did during Bihar elections. He indulged in character assassination of CM, he should not have done that,” Tyagi said.

In May 2014, just months before the LS polls, Nitish Kumar took away senior leaders from the BJP that included former MLA Ram Kishore Singh, MLC Ranbir Nandan Prasad, former party MLA Vijay Kumar Mishra, who is the son of former union minister L.N. Mishra, Rishi Mishra, the grandson of L.N. Mishra, Mohiuddinagar BJP MLA Rana Gangeshwar Singh and another BJP MLA Awanish Kumar Singh who was suspended by the BJP in February 2014 for supporting Nitish Kumar. Singh was later asked by Nitish Kumar to contest the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. Vijay Mishra and Ranbir were nominated as MLCs, while Ram Kishore was appointed member of the Bihar public service commission.Just before the LS elections in 2014, another BJP MLA, Santosh Kushwaha, joined the JDU after which he successfully contested elections from Purnia as JDU candidate. Similarly, in the same month, 13 of the 22 RJD MLAs who had won in the Nov. 2010 polls, egged on by months of effort by Nitish Kumar, reached out to the Speaker of the Bihar Assembly, asking them to be recognized as a separate group.

The group was led by senior RJD leader Abdul Bari Siddiqui. However, the party president Lalu Prasad Yadav, who came to know about this movement in time, moved swiftly. Finally, of the 13, only three MLAs, Samrat Chaudhary, Ram Lakhan Ram Raman and Javed Iqbal, resigned from their RJD membership and joined the JDU. All the three were immediately nominated to the Legislative council and made ministers by Nitish Kumar. Samrat Choudhary later left the JDU and joined the BJP. He is now a minister in the present Nitish Kumar cabinet from the BJP quota.

In March 2018, Nitish Kumar ensured that four of the seven Congress MLCs, that included its former state party president Ashok Choudhary, were inducted into the JDU. The three other MLCs—Dilip Chaudhury, Tanvir Akhtar and Ram Chandra Bharti were earlier suspended from Congress for pro-JDU stance that they were adopting. Ashok Choudhary was later appointed as Education minister of the state. Harkhu Jha, a senior Congress leader and former MLA from Jhanjharpur, while commenting, said it would be wrong to blame Nitish Kumar for these defections. “It is an attraction to power which has led many leaders towards Nitish Kumar. In return, they were rewarded with ministerial berths,” he said.

In Nov. 2018, two Rashtriya Lok Samta Party MLAs— Lalan Paswan and Sudhanshu Shekhar—were inducted into the JDU despite the RLSP being a part of the NDA which also had the JDU in it. The RLSP later merged with the JDU in March this year. In Sept. last year, two Congress MLAs, Purnima Yadav and Sudarshan Kumar were made members of the JDU. In January 2021, the lone BSP MLA from Bihar, Jama Khan joined JDU and was soon appointed a minister by Nitish Kumar. Similarly, Raj Kumar Singh, the lone LJP MLA too, was taken into the JDU by Nitish Kumar in April this year. None of the parties that are active in Bihar can say that their MLAs are immune to Nitish Kumar’s moves. According to a senior JDU functionary, every party carries out such acts to make his or her own party stronger and it would be unfair to single out Nitish Kumar and call him a “champion splitter”. “BJP has been doing it for years now, TMC is doing it right now, Congress has done it. Everyone wants his party to become stronger, even if it happens by sabotaging the Opposition parties,” he said.