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Nitish Kumar has changed. It’s as if Bihar has a whole new CM

Those who staunchly believe in democracy in their youth often turn into supporters of totalitarianism as they age. Bihar is seeing it.

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The personality and character of a person changes with time. Some act as Socialists and revolutionaries in their youth but turn into conservatives and advocates of privatisation as they age. Those who staunchly believe in democracy in their initial years often turn into supporters of totalitarianism in their waning age. This pattern of transformation is seen among common people, politicians, and bureaucrats alike. Initially, IAS, IPS officials remain very conscious of their image. After spending 15-20 years in service, that enthusiasm, passion and commitment fade.

The character graph of Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar is no different.

Constant U-turns

Nitish Kumar was once famous for his loyalty, commitment and passion towards strengthening the parliamentary system, first as a member of the Bihar legislative assembly (when he was not the chief minister) and later on as a Member of Parliament. His image has seen a drastic decline since he became chief minister, especially after 2015. This is the same Nitish Kumar who was reluctant to participate in the first rally of the ‘Luv-Kush Samaj’ in 1994, organised by CPI leader Satish Kumar, because the former didn’t want to be labeled as a casteist leader. In Bihar, two electorally important caste groups, Kurmis and Kushwahas are said to be the ancestors of Luv and Kush (the sons of Ram), respectively. Kumar was opposed to the idea of participating in a caste-based rally but attended the ‘Luv-Kush Sammelan’ held at Gandhi Maidan in Patna with a heavy heart. That was then.

The 2020 assembly elections, however, upset his equation in the state when Chirag Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party dented Kumar’s vote bank that he had nurtured for nearly two decades, thereby making him weaker of the two partners in the NDA alliance.

This explains well the merger of Upendra Kushwaha’s Rashtriya Lok Samta Party in Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United), or JD(U). Upendra Kushwaha has been appointed the chairman of the JD(U) National Parliamentary Board to consolidate the caste-based alliance of Luv-Kush Samaj. Just a few months ago, both Kumar and Kushwaha were at each other’s throat. Today, suddenly, both have become fans of one other and turned into allies—all for votes and power.

Nitish Kumar as railways minister in Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s cabinet had tendered his resignation while accepting the moral responsibility for a railway accident. However, the same Nitish Kumar now continues to occupy his post as CM of Bihar despite the heinous rapes of 34 girls in the Muzaffarpur shelter home and the Srijan scam in Bhagalpur. Apparently, his definition of ‘morality’ has changed now.

Also read: ‘Dictatorial’ CM who’s ‘averse to criticism’ – what Bihar assembly ruckus reveals about Nitish

In the year 2000, when he had been sworn in as Bihar chief minister for the first time for just seven days, Nitish Kumar had tried to cobble up a majority through all kinds of tricks with the help of then MP Prabhunath Singh and several others. Kumar extended his silent support to all their nefarious activities by remaining mute. But he was forced to resign in the absence of majority support. Kumar’s morality had already come into question by then.

Again, in 2014, he resigned from the post of chief minister taking moral responsibility after the JD(U) badly lost in the Lok Sabha election. At that point, Jitan Ram Manjhi was hurriedly sworn in as chief minister. It is also known to one and all how Nitish Kumar later indulged in all kinds of endeavours to get Manjhi removed as chief minister.

In the 2020 Bihar assembly election, the JD(U) could only secure 43 seats. The ‘Cold War’ with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over the ‘elder brother-younger brother’ debate continues unabated. The arguments on morality have been forgotten.

Also read: In RLSP merger, a Nitish message to BJP as he rebuilds ‘Luv-Kush’ alliance with Kushwaha

An angry chief minister

The Bihar chief minister gets agitated very quickly these days. In November 2020, Kumar got infuriated while listening to the remarks of the leader of the Opposition, Tejashwi Yadav, on criminal cases against him in the state assembly. Those who know Nitish Kumar from close quarters have perhaps never witnessed this sort of furious behaviour. These days, he is often seen irritated.

Members of the ruling party/coalition are also openly pointing fingers at the speaker in the House. The speaker is being taunted as ‘Vyakool (desperate). In a parliamentary system, will such acts of degrading the speaker ever strengthen either the government or democracy? However, the chief minister is meekly watching all this.

In the past, Nitish Kumar never became visibly angry. No one had ever heard him utter a rough or abusive word. Be it a senior or junior person, he talked to all respectfully. This habit of his was cited as exemplary. But there has been a massive deterioration in his temperament.

In 2010, then chief minister of Gujarat Narendra Modi had sent relief for a flood-hit Bihar. But Nitish Kumar cancelled a dinner meeting with Modi after duly inviting him because he felt Modi was insulting the state by bragging of the relief. Later on, Nitish Kumar said he preferred to be buried in soil than join hands with the BJP again. But today he is aligning with the BJP to stay in power. He had also openly espoused the idea of making no compromise on the issue of special status of Jammu and Kashmir. But he went on to support the BJP’s abrogation of Article 370. The JD(U) now supports the BJP’s stand on all contentious issues – be it the farm laws, privatisation, Ram Mandir, or the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.

Also read: ‘Like Kim Jong-un’s diktat’ — Bihar opposition slams Nitish govt’s circular on protests

No longer democratic

The Nitish Kumar government has introduced the Bihar Special Armed Police Bill 2021. The proposed law will empower the Bihar military police to search anyone’s house without a warrant from the court or magistrate. It will give the Bihar police unlimited power. Freedom and liberty of an individual will come to end. The Opposition was rightfully opposing this Bill inside the House when — to ensure the passage of this contentious Bill — marshals and police personnel were summoned inside the House by the speaker, and the protesting MLAs were beaten up. Is this a parliamentary act?

The chief minister, fond of citing parliamentary traditions, watched in silence. He quickly absolved himself and put the entire blame on the speaker and the Opposition.

Nitish Kumar again indulged in a fit of fury — pointing fingers towards Congress leaders in a fiery manner, he told them that they were spoiling themselves by aligning with the Rashtriya Janata Dal. Nitish Kumar’s anger can now be deduced from his body language itself. This is the change of character taking place with time and age.

The author is former speaker of the Bihar legislative assembly. Views are personal.

Edited by Neera Majumdar.

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  1. Whatever this author may write, Nitish Kumar is a far better CM compared to Lalu or his son Tejashwi. Bihar is in safe hands as long as Nitish is at the helm. It’s only the opposing politicians who are trying every possible way to defeat Nitish.

  2. People voted him to power because of two things – 1. He’s not corrupt Laloo, or his semi literate son, 2. BJP was in support of Nitish Kumar.

    Everything is a hogwash. His only role is to keep Laloo types out of power and save Bihar from reverting to jungle raaj. Ask women in Bihar.

  3. Nitish Kumar was once the pride of Bihar. Due to his utter selfishness and shamelessness, his stature has gone even beneath Lalu Yadav.

    2020 was the election made for RJD (yes, Biharis were ready to bite this bullet as they had choice between the devil and the sea) but Nitish stole the election using local spineless and shameless district magistrates in half dozen seats.

    Modi hates Bihar and Biharis. He will do nothing to stop this rot.

    Yadav brothers of RJD are too reckless (Elder one is a dickhead) to be given command of 12 crore people’s fate.

    Congress is in rots in Bihar due to Gandhi Family’s control of the party.

    BJP leaders of the state are deeply casteist, misogynist, regressive, Brahministic dickheads.

    So, there’s a need of a new forward thinking party to come up and save Bihar before it becomes true basket case of whole India.

    Otherwise, Bihari rich men and intellectuals (like me) will continue to migrate and settle in Delhi leaving behind all the shit as is the case with H1B visa seeking aspirational Indians.

  4. If CM Nitish Kumar was an author, one would say he has got a severe attack of writer’s block. Unclear what his politics is now all about. It does not seem to be about the welfare of the people of his state, 100 million of India’s least prosperous but amongst the most industrious.

  5. Not casting aspersions on the integrity of this autor/ politician, but I would like to make a broader point. Recently I have seen a creeping trend in this website of allowing coloumns by active politicians. Not only that, the frequency is increasing. I dont think this is a welcome development for any media publication. For example, let me point out the case of Yogendra Yadav. Mr Yadav is a failed politician, who tried to piggy back on Anna Hazare’s movement. Unfortunately he was jettisoned by kejriwal in a rather brutal manner and since then Mr Yadav has been running his own political outfit. Every other day he gets space on the pages of this website and spews venom against the Government. From Mr Yadav’s point of view, there is nothing wrong in it! He is anti BJP, he is a politician. He is doing what he is supposed to do. But from Print’s perspective, is this justified? Can regular coloumns by Mr Yadav be considered ‘Journalism’ OR ‘Commentary’ OR ‘Analysis’? In conclusion, my appeal would be this – Once in a while any reputable publication/ website SHOULD invite politicians to comment on a pressing matter. BUT making these politcians a regular on your platform can be devastating. Just my opinion.

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