Issue Brief on “The Return of the Mahagathbandan in Bihar and its implications on the NDA”

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On 9 August 2022, the Janata Dal (United) broke off ties with the BJP-led NDA government and chose to align itself with its old partners such as Lalu Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal, the Indian National Congress, and the left parties.[1] In effect, the new Mahagathbandan (Grand Alliance) now controls 2/3rds of the Bihar Legislative Assembly. Nitish Kumar, the leader of the JD(U), had previously formed a similar partnership with these parties in 2015, only for this alliance to dissolve acrimoniously in 2017. By allying with different parties over the years, Nitish Kumar has managed to serve as the Chief Minister of Bihar for over 15 years.[2]

The decision of the Janata Dal to break away from the BJP is curious, in the sense that the saffron party has more legislators in the assembly than JD(U). However, Nitish Kumar and JD(U) leaders have felt that the BJP is undermining their party by encouraging defections and having ministers directly report to Amit Shah, rather than the Chief Minister of the state.[3] In fact, in the last three years, JD(U) is the third key ally to sever its ties with the BJP after the Akali Dal and Shiv Sena. In 2014, the NDA  consisted of 29 parties, but now only 17 are left at the central level.[4]

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