Nitish Kumar a ‘chameleon’, ‘expert’ of betrayal: Congress

New Delhi: The Congress on Sunday called Bihar Chief Minister and JD(U) president Nitish Kumar a “chameleon” and said the people of the state will never forgive this “expert” of betrayal and those making him dance to their tunes.

The party was reacting to Kumar’s decision to resign as the chief minister of Bihar and leaving the ‘Mahagathbandhan (grand alliance)’ in the state while also dealing a body blow to the opposition bloc INDIA.

Kumar had joined the ‘Mahagathbandhan’ in August 2022, when he had snapped ties with the BJP, accusing it of trying to “split” his Janata Dal (United). He had formed a new government with a multi-party coalition that included the RJD, the Congress and three Left parties.

Dubbing him as “Aaya Ram, Gaya Ram”, the Congress said there are many people like him in the country. The expression was used widely in politics in the 90s referring to the frequent floor-crossing and switching of parties.

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said they already knew about Kumar’s decision to leave the alliance, but had not said anything to help keep the INDIA bloc together.

“There are many people like ‘Aaya Ram, Gaya Ram’ in the country. Earlier he and I were fighting together. When I talked to (RJD chief) Lalu (Prasad) ji and (his son) Tejashwi (Yadav) ji, they also said that Nitish is going,” he said.

The Congress president said if Kumar wanted to stay, he would have stayed.

“Therefore, we already knew this, but we did not say anything in order to keep the INDIA bloc intact. If we say something wrong, a wrong message will go out. Lalu Prasad Yadav ji and Tejashwi Yadav ji had already given us this information. Today, it has become true,” Kharge said.

After severing ties with the BJP in 2022, Kumar had embarked on a drive to bring together all parties across the country to take on the BJP and that culminated in the formation of opposition bloc INDIA.

Lashing out at Kumar, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said it is clear that a “political drama” is being created in order to divert attention from the party’s Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra.

He said it is clear that the prime minister (Narendra Modi) and the BJP are “scared” of the yatra being undertaken by Rahul Gandhi, which is set to enter Bihar soon.

The Manipur-to-Maharashtra Nyay Yatra began on January 14 and has traversed through Manipur, Nagaland, Assam and West Bengal. It will culminate in Mumbai on March 20 or 21.

In a post on ‘X in Hindi’, Ramesh said, “Nitish Kumar, who frequently changes political partners, is giving a tough competition to chameleons in changing colours.” The people of Bihar will not forgive this “expert of betrayal” and those who are making him dance to their tunes, he said.

“It is quite clear that the prime minister and the BJP are scared of the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra and this political drama has been created to divert attention from it,” he said.

Ramesh said the INDIA bloc is strong. There are a few speed-breakers here and there, “but we will unitedly fight against the BJP and all parties like DMK, NCP, TMC and SP will fight it together”, he asserted. On the development related to Kumar, Ramesh claimed that this will not have any impact on the Nyay Yatra, and the INDIA bloc will be further strengthened as (TMC supremo and West Bengal chief minister) Mamata Banerjee has herself said this.

“This will further upset the people and I think the people of Bihar will teach the right lesson to Nitish Kumar and the BJP in the election…This is an ideological battle,” he said.

This will be the headlines for a day or two, and it does not look good on Nitish Kumar who had himself called the first meeting (of the INDIA bloc) in Patna and then attended all other meetings of the opposition alliance, Ramesh said.

“But like I said, Nitish Kumar gives a tough competition to chameleons,” he said.

Taking a swipe at Kumar on his changing sides multiple times and forming government with new alliances, Congress leader Pawan Khera at a press conference said the JD(U) leader is creating a new record where he is becoming “the chief minister for the ninth time”.

“If you (BJP) have the confidence of 400 (Lok Sabha) seats then why did you have to do all this. It shows that you know the truth and that is why you are indulging in all such activities. This is the impact of the yatra on the BJP. Wherever the yatra goes it is creating an effect. In Assam, the chief minister came in service of the yatra and became our ‘prachar mantri’. When the yatra is entering Bihar, this is happening in Bihar and when it started, in Mumbai our leader was made to switch over,” he said.

Khera was referring to a case being filed against Rahul Gandhi and other Congress leaders on the instructions of Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, the political developments in Bihar and Congress leader Milind Deora quitting to join the BJP. The Nyay Yatra exposes 10 years of the BJP government at the Centre and the panic in the BJP is evident, he said.

“This is happening as those who give slogans of 400-plus (seats) know the truth in the country. As our (Congress) president has said those who go (quit) have two compulsions, either the ED or the CD. What are Nitish Kumar’s?” he asked.

Khera said one must learn from Kumar the art of how to flip. He said that “we are trying to hold the INDIA bloc together… and efforts in this regard would continue”.

“There are speed-breakers in every yatra, there may be red lights, yellow lights or green lights. Hence, the journey of an alliance is like this as is seen today,” he said.

Kumar submitted his resignation as chief minister to Governor Rajendra V Arlekar on Sunday morning. The governor accepted the resignation, and asked Kumar to continue as the caretaker chief minister till a new government is formed, sources in Patna said.

A new government with the support of the BJP is likely to be in place by the evening, according to the sources.