Tuesday, 5 July, 2022
HomeOpinionHaving played all sides, Nitish Kumar has nowhere to go

Having played all sides, Nitish Kumar has nowhere to go

He can’t go solo, can’t go back to Lalu, can’t live with Modi.

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Nitish Kumar should have been a happy man. His party won 16 of the 17 seats it contested in Bihar. Getting the BJP to concede 17 seats in the pre-poll alliance was itself a great achievement.

Yet, Nitish Kumar got no time to savour the victory. There is no state, not even Karnataka, where political churning is faster than in Bihar. Nitish Kumar got one meeting with Amit Shah in Delhi after the result, wherein he was offered one cabinet berth for his party. Take it or leave it. A humiliated Nitish Kumar returned to Patna, seething. He expected at least the courtesy of a negotiation.

In an election rally speech in 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said Biharis are “the most intelligent” people in India. Now, as the Bihar 2020 assembly election approaches, the Gujarati duo of Modi-Shah may well have tamed the Bihari intelligence.

Also read: BJP wants to attack Nitish Kumar over Bihar encephalitis deaths, but just can’t do it

Nitish’s Janata Dal (United) won two seats when it contested the 2014 Lok Sabha elections without an alliance with the BJP. So, the 16 seats it has won this time, it is clear, is thanks to its alliance with the BJP.

Given that the BJP agreed to contest an equal number of seats with the JD(U) in the Lok Sabha, why should it not demand the same in the Vidhan Sabha? Of course, it will, never mind the JD(U)’s assertion that it is the senior most of the National Democratic Alliance partners in Bihar. Take it or leave it, the BJP might say, knowing fully well that Nitish Kumar cannot return to his 2015 mahagathbandhan with Lalu Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Congress.

Paltu chacha can’t take a U-turn

Breaking that mahagathbandhan is going to haunt Nitish Kumar in 2020. Having complained of then-deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav’s corruption, how will Nitish Kumar go back to the RJD, even though the RJD’s Raghuvansh babu thinks deja vu is not a bad feeling.

Even if Nitish Kumar agrees to do so, how will he possibly offer the deputy CM’s post again to Tejashwi? And how will Tejashwi take it? The bitter public acrimony between both sides makes a rapprochement untenable. Having been called “paltu chacha” by Tejashwi, Nitish can’t possibly do his next paltu act in favour of Tejashwi.

Without something in hand, why would Tejashwi make the switch? He’s anyway been sulking so badly that he’s making Rahul Gandhi’s handling of defeat look better.

An RJD-JD(U) coming together will look ridiculous before the public eye. The people of Bihar will laugh at both of them and might end up voting for the BJP.

Also read: Leaderless & desperate, RJD wants to ally with Nitish Kumar again to help reboot party

Unhappy marriage

An assertive, dominant BJP with a powerful Modi government is an existential threat to Nitish Kumar and his party. The BJP may not throw the baby out with the bathwater anytime soon, but the timing will be of the BJP’s choosing. It has the upper hand now. Much will depend on the seat negotiation for the 2020 assembly election.

The BJP might contest the election with Nitish as the CM face, but its effort might be to win enough seats between itself and Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) and get a simple majority. Having done so, it may discard Nitish Kumar after the results.

The fear of a dominant BJP making Nitish Kumar irrelevant must be giving him sleepless nights. He is flexing his muscles: he won’t participate in Yoga Day celebrations, increase his party’s footprint in the alliance government’s cabinet, revive the hoary demand of special status to Bihar that nobody cares about, let his vice president Prashant Kishor work against the BJP in West Bengal, and so on. Yet for all this muscle flexing, he has no bargaining chip with the BJP. He can’t threaten to go back to the RJD.

Divorce is unthinkable 

Contesting the 2020 Bihar assembly election all by himself, with no alliance, is also not an option.

This will only help divide the opposition votes and bring the BJP to power in Bihar, giving Bihar its first BJP CM and reducing the JD(U)’s relevance to history books. Unlike Naveen Patnaik, Nitish Kumar has never had the courage to contest the Bihar assembly election on his own. He gets the jackpot in any alliance but when he goes solo, he fails miserably. His caste base is too small, his party cadre non-existent.

His greatest asset is his own image, and that too is now taking a beating. The deaths of more than 150 children attributed to encephalitis are just the latest in a series of events that have highlighted how Bihar’s governance leaves a lot to be desired.

Also read: Bihar CM is biding for a time when brand Nitish will be stronger than brand Modi

Too many young voters in Bihar have no memory of Lalu Yadav’s infamous Jungle Raj, and are therefore unable to make the comparison between Lalu and Nitish. In contrast to the Jungle Raj years, Nitish Kumar looked so much better that he was able to build a good governance image for himself. But now, Nitish Kumar’s story has become stale, and young, unemployed voters might easily be swayed by a call for a change of guard. Nitish Kumar, therefore, still needs the BJP’s shoulders to stand on.

He could, of course, leave the NDA anyway, in case he is being offered a threateningly low number of seats in the pre-poll alliance. Suicide is more honourable than execution. The result in both cases is the same.

Views are personal.

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  1. No, Nitish ji is very much relevant and still has options. But history will perhaps not leave him. The things Nitish Kumar did to Modi ji at personal level – is definitely not forgetable by any means by any body, more so by a person who has time and tide in his side.
    Popularity and aura make person forget his own limitations some times. It was rather too easy for an average good administrator to become very popular given the legacy Lalu ji left in Bihar. Nitish ji no doubt did very well and he definitely had been commanding respect of not only Bihar but the nation too. But he led a tiny regional party with no considerable cadre. He dreamt of becoming Prime Minister and could not digest Modi ji being nominated Prime Ministerial candidate and did all the things whimsical he wanted. He thought the impossible – making BJP change its leader! And in asserting so he crossed all the limits. He was, after all, nobody to decide as to who will be leader of BJP ….. the biggest of the NDA parties. May be at that time he had the tacit feeling (or may be support) of BJP’s first benchers not accepting Modi ji as their leader. But this was just unbecoming of him. The BJP (with Modi ji as unquestionable leader) would never forget and forgive it. Now when BJP has all the numbers in its favour, why should it care for this type of unreliable ally with so much of personal bitterness for it’s leader! After all, democracy is all about numbers and a party has to be pretty realistic to digest the numbers and decide it’s strategy according to that number. The BJP is still kinder to him perhaps because of his friendly relations with state BJP, particularly Sushil Modi Ji – his old partner of Bihar agitation days.
    Otherwise, Nitish ji, ideologically, is more close to RJD and others than to BJP – leaving aside RJD’s tainted record. In fact, he put all his force behind Lalu ji making him succeed Karpuri Thakur ji as leader of opposition paving the way of Lalu ji being Chief Minister of Bihar later. When Janata Party disintegrated, BJP and Lok Dal were two formidable parties – all socialist orientation leaders being in Lok Dal, Lalu ji became the star with Nitish ji in his support.
    Therefore, historically and practically RJD is the natural ally of Nitish ji in Bihar given the fact Nitish ji would no longer have any national ambitions.
    But there are practical issues to be sorted out. Given the fact that Lalu ji is off the seen and his successor Tejashwi is completely demotivated and demoralised. Tej Pratap is already in different world altogether. It would be quite easy for Nitish ji to bargain anything with RJD as it is almost in the brink of existential crisis and it will be more than ready to accept anything. They know it too well, only Nitish ji may be a game changer for them.
    But the bigger question is whether Bihar will accept it … this analysis would be available with the poll expert Vice President of Nitish ji, who may study and report back to him. In fact, Nitish ji needs him more than Mamata di.
    But of course, it would be wrong to say that Nitish ji is short of options – the best thing in his favour is that public love and respect him. He has really done a lot for Bihar and people would not like to loose him. Being in NDA will make him risk his top job – being with RJD would definitely secure his job provided Bihar forgives him and forgets misdeeds of RJD.
    Another very ideal option would be to remain in NDA, bargain his position and in failing, go SOLO! What will happen at the worst …. Will not get through. So be it ….
    Let him have the courage to sit in opposition too!

  2. Another ‘statesman’ miserably believing in appeasement and ‘don’t antogonise muslim male voters’ has already dug his grave only to be self buried soon. Only wait and watch.

  3. For India there is a requirement to have Nationalist political party without any alliance with regional party for good governance and noncompromising with the regional party.
    In the given situation Congress & BJP should decide for centre there will be no compromise formula with regional party hence there will be threat to regional party

  4. Nitish Kumar has survived for long on the shoulders of his alliance partners. He has been extremely lucky in the same. Now it’s payback time and it looks as if he luck has run out.

  5. Great person, or we can say cm of bihar nitesh kumar whatever he have done in bihar that all are good.or any person or any one.if bjp want continue then go alongwith.else no need to touch a fit.or never go with rjd,

  6. Nitish can do anything to remain CM, as he can’t become PM. Remember, he did not permit Modi to campaign once. Second time he withdrew invitation for a meal. He has now accepted alliance with the same party. His arrogance is superlative. He didn’t accept resignation of Sushil Modi and other BJP ministers when they fell apart. Instead, his arrogance forced him to dismiss them. He also tried to punish people by resigning after results of 2014 general elections. But, came back forcing Manjhi to exit. I find moneyed people having BPL cards but poor are denied the same. Rs 2000/- given to farmers have not been paid to them. For years I kept writing to him for help a 90% disabled get a disability certificate after collectors, Civil Surgeon and even Chief Secy refused to answer mails, but he also followed the suit. I had to approach Zee TV people to impress upon collector to arrange issue of the certificate. Old age pension is paid after six months and even later. Govt servants are not paid salary for 12 months plus. Corruption in all departments is at its zenith. Look at the education system, 100 plus school have zero percentage pass results. Health department need no discussion. 100s of children have lost their lives. Patna was to get Metro first, but the ministers do not need metro. So no progress. Public transport like buses do not run on road rail bridge because bus mafia has something else in mind. People are born there to migrate. Shame.

  7. The fall of Nitish Kumar in Bihar means a great loss for poor people. As he is doing great things for the poor as well as disabled person with projects like BUNIYAD. This project is especially designed for disabled people and the geriatric population. And such so many projects are running by Bihar govt under his leadership. No other state has such projects for poor as well as older population.
    Jai Hind

    • He had enough switching in the past 5 years. No more somersaults. He burning all sides and having no legacy to continue, BJP will wait his slow exit. BJP will not be in a hurry. Opportunism has its own end.

  8. CM Nitish Kumar had two assets. Personal character and administrative ability. His changing loyalties over the last six years show him to be a complete opportunist. The horror stories of misgovernance coming from Bihar leave the latter in shreds. The only thing working for him at the moment is the virtual destruction of the Lalu Yadav family’s political future. The Congress, as usual, is irrelevant.

  9. Time both JDU and RJD unite which can give run for money to BJP as well as Congress. In such scenario, it is better Congres and BJP should join together!!!!! (pun intended).

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