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Rahul Gandhi Takes a Break from Yatra, Nitish Kumar Makes a Switch Before Its Resumption

IndiaRahul Gandhi Takes a Break from Yatra, Nitish Kumar Makes a Switch Before Its Resumption

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra entered Bihar today, a day after his party transitioned from being part of the state’s ruling coalition to the Opposition due to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s fifth change in political allegiance in a decade.

Mr. Gandhi’s yatra, a strategic move by the Congress to garner support ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, commenced in Manipur on January 14. After traversing through the Northeast, it reached Bengal on Thursday before Mr. Gandhi took a brief break and flew to Delhi.

During Mr. Gandhi’s flight to Delhi, the Congress was part of the Mahagathbandhan government in Bihar led by Mr. Kumar. As he resumes the yatra after a two-day break, Mr. Kumar retains the same post, but his new political allies are the BJP and Jitan Ram Manjhi’s Hindustani Awam Morcha.

The yatra began in Sonapur in Bengal’s Uttar Dinajpur district this morning, reaching Kishanganj in Bihar around 11 am. Kishanganj, a Muslim-dominated area, has been under Congress control since the 2009 Lok Sabha election. The rally is scheduled to move to Purnea tomorrow and Katihar the day after. Both districts are JDU strongholds, making them friendly territory for the Congress when the yatra began. However, the political landscape has shifted.

This visit marks Mr. Gandhi’s first to Bihar since the 2020 Assembly election, which led to the NDA alliance forming the government under Mr. Kumar. Two years later, in August 2022, Mr. Kumar exited the NDA alliance and reunited with estranged allies RJD and Congress. Yesterday, he made another shift, aligning with NDA again.

State Congress leaders have invited the party’s alliance partners in Bihar, RJD and CPI(ML)-L, to the Purnea rally.

During public addresses in Bihar as part of the Yatra, Mr. Gandhi is expected to criticize Mr. Kumar for his latest political reversal. The Congress has strongly reacted to the Bihar flip-flop, with party president Mallikarjun Kharge describing Mr. Kumar as “aaya ram gaya ram” – a term used for politicians who frequently change political affiliations.

The JDU, in response, has accused the Congress of attempting to hijack the INDIA platform. Mr. Kumar, in his first remarks after resigning as Chief Minister, stated that things were not progressing within the INDIA bloc. Senior JDU leader KC Tyagi attributed the alliance’s end to the Congress’s perceived arrogance.

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