With Nitish Kumar back at the helm of Bihar as Chief Minister, his new cabinet boasts a fresh face in the form of Samrat Choudhary, who has been sworn in as one of the two Deputy Chief Ministers. Choudhary’s meteoric rise within the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in a state where the party seeks to shed its “pro-upper caste” image is a story of political intrigue and ambition.
Hailing from a politically active family, Choudhary’s father, Shakuni Choudhary, was an army officer turned politician who navigated the turbulent waters of Bihar politics, shifting allegiances between the Congress, Lalu Prasad’s RJD, and Nitish Kumar’s JD(U). This dynamic environment undoubtedly shaped Samrat’s own political journey.
Samrat followed his father’s footsteps, becoming a minister in the RJD government led by Rabri Devi. However, after the party’s defeat in 2005, he remained on board for some time before joining a rebel faction in 2014. This move saw him switch sides once again, landing him in the JD(U) government under Jitan Ram Manjhi.
Three years later, Choudhary’s loyalty shifted again, this time to the BJP. His fiery oratory and belonging to the prominent Koeri caste, a key OBC group, attracted the party’s attention. He quickly rose through the ranks, becoming a state vice-president and later, a member of the legislative council. After the NDA victory in 2020, he was appointed a minister in Kumar’s government.
In March 2023, Choudhary’s leadership qualities earned him the coveted position of state BJP president. This move came with a symbolic twist: he started wearing a turban, vowing to remove it only when the BJP returned to power alongside Nitish Kumar.
The political landscape of Bihar took an unexpected turn in January 2024, with Nitish Kumar resigning from the Mahagathbandhan and returning to the NDA fold. This brought Choudhary and Kumar face-to-face once again, now as colleagues at the helm of the state.
The former critic of Kumar now faces the delicate task of forging a strong working relationship with his one-time bete noire. His ability to navigate this political terrain while ensuring the “Luv Kush” alliance (referring to Kurmis and Koeris) remains strong will be crucial for the BJP-led coalition’s success in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections and beyond.
From rebel to Deputy CM, Samrat Choudhary’s rise in Bihar politics is a testament to his political acumen and ambition. His future success, however, hinges on his ability to navigate the complex political landscape of Bihar and forge a strong working relationship with the man he once fiercely criticised.