Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who is navigating a less-than-smooth alliance with the BJP, said today that he would like to go to the Rajya Sabha someday. That would mean matching the record of two contemporaries – Lalu Yadav and Sushil Modi – who have been members of all houses of parliament and the assembly.
This morning, Nitish Kumar told reporters at his office in the Bihar assembly that he, too, wanted to be member of the Rajya Sabha at some point. So far, he has been a member of the Bihar assembly, legislative council and Lok Sabha.
The comment, made in an informal chat with journalists, triggered huge speculation that Nitish Kumar, who has been Chief Minister for 16 years, is angling for a new role. It is an open secret that he wouldn’t mind the post of Vice President, which falls vacant in the next few days.
Mr Kumar was asked whether he was considering running for parliament from Nalanda, since he has been touring the now abolished Lok Sabha constituency of Barh, which he won five times. Major parts of Barh are now in Nalanda. “No chance,” said the Chief Minister. But when asked whether he would like to be a member of the Rajya Sabha, he said: “I won’t mind going to the Rajya Sabha but for now, I have the responsibilities of Chief Minister. I have been Chief Minister for over 16 years, so I don’t know…”
Mr Kumar’s wish is being interpreted in political circles in different ways. One section of Bihar NDA (BJP-led National Democratic Alliance) leaders are of the view that he has either already been sounded out about a coveted job in Delhi or that he has tossed an idea to the BJP leadership that he would be willing to consider a shift to the capital, but for something substantial.
Mr Kumar won a second straight term in the 2020 Bihar election but with a greatly diminished status in the BJP-led alliance, with his Janata Dal United winning fewer seats than ally BJP and placing third overall.
Over the past two years, the partnership has been strained with the BJP no longer playing second fiddle to Mr Kumar.