The 34th Chief Minister of Bihar, leading a coalition government with the Bharatiya Janata Party, Nitish Kumar has been in this office since 2005. Before that, he was the Union Railway Minister from 2001 to 2004 in the Atal Bihar Vajpayee government. He had also held the agriculture portfolio in the central government in two phases — from 19 March 1998 to 5 August 1999, and from 27 May 2000 to 21 July 2001. He was the Union Minister of Surface Transport from 22 November 1999 to 3 March 2000.
A member of the Janata Dal (United), Kumar at present represents the Nalanda seat in the Bihar state Assembly.
He has had an on-again, off-again relationship with the National Democratic Alliance government and he has also been critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the past. In 2013, Kumar had severed JD(U)’s 17-year-old alliance with the BJP, but he re-joined the NDA in 2017 after ending the grand alliance with the RJD and Congress.
For the 2019 elections, the BJP has decided to contest on 17 seats in Bihar, with Kumar’s JD(U) contesting in an equal number of seats. While Kumar has the support base of the Kurmi community of Bihar, extremely backward castes, Dalits and Muslims, the BJP has the support base of mainly the upper castes in the state. Political experts say that BJP chief Amit Shah understands that 2014 was an exceptional election, where BJP won only on the back of Modi's popularity with the people. In 2019, however, Kumar is being seen as an important force that BJP will truly need to do well in Bihar.