Analysis: Nitish Kumar – A Shrewd, Yet Politically Promiscuous Player

Analysis: Nitish Kumar – A Shrewd, Yet Politically Promiscuous Player

Changing of colours is not the only quality of a chameleon; the other interesting quality is that it can move its eyes independent of each other

Abhay MokashiUpdated: Friday, February 02, 2024, 11:41 PM IST
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Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has faced a lot of flak from the opposition and from a minuscule section of the media for changing political loyalties once again, but he should be complimented for having his ear to the ground and understanding the pulse of the people, though that quality is selective.

The selectivity lies in not understanding the issues of unemployment, poverty and social justice, to mention just a few. He has grown up in politics in the shadow of Ram Manohar Lohia and above all Karpoori Thakur, but he does not carry any of the qualities of either of the two leaders. He is an insult to the life and principles of Karpoori Thakur.

The shrewd politician that he is, Nitish Kumar knows that most of his supporters, as well as a large section of the public at large, will accept with muted silence his withdrawal from the government formed in alliance with the Rashtriya Janata Dal, Congress and the Left, to join hands with the Bharatiya Janata Party to become chief minister once again. He has been proved right to a great extent, as a large section of the population in Bihar and in the country is least affected by his switching of sides. It would be rather foolish to expect the people to react to issues like political defections and toppling of governments, when they are silent on more pressing issues like unemployment, inflation and the state of the nation’s economy. People are more interested in god and places of worship to the extent that just as people remember Nero playing the fiddle when Rome burnt, generations later today’s public will be remembered for indulging in religious frenzy while India’s democracy was being stripped.

Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge has compared Nitish Kumar to a chameleon, but by saying so, he meant the changing of colours, in the latter case political colours. Changing of colours is not the only quality of a chameleon; the other interesting quality is that it can move its eyes independent of each other. Nitish has this quality, which went unnoticed by the I.N.D.I.A partners. While being a part of I.N.D.I.A or rather one who played a leading role in the formation of the anti-BJP front, he was flirting with the BJP, like the famous Hindi song of yesteryears, “Kahin pe nigahein, kahin pe nishana”.

By his moves, Nitish has proved that he is a politically promiscuous person, with no scruples and changing partners repeatedly. Anyway, given the state of mind of a large section of the society, a politician need not have scruples, rather a scrupulous person can be said to be a misfit in today's politics. This has been proved by the background of most of the popular and successful politicians like Narayan Rane, Eknath Shinde and Ajit Pawar, just to name a few from Maharashtra. As a society, we have come to adore unscrupulous persons in politics and business, where politics itself has become a business.

The stand taken by Nitish Kumar is a smaller attack on democracy as compared to many other acts by leaders and political parties. Governments have been pulled down or formed by managing defections, which get endorsements from Governors and presiding officers of legislative bodies.

At the centre of all this is the BJP, yet the party continues to be popular; rather, its popularity is increasing day by day in a kind of a geometric progression. The more onslaughts on democracy by the party, the greater its popularity.

We are repeatedly told that India is the mother of democracy. This is an insult to India, as, if she is the mother of democracy, she has not given a proper upbringing to her children who are now at the helm of affairs in the country.

Defections are engineered and those charged with corruption become political bedfellows. We do not know if the Ganga really has the powers to wash away the sins of those who take a dip in it, but the BJP surely has superpower to cleanse those who align with it of the corruption charges they carry.

Many politicians in the country have realised that their situation is like that in another Hindi song “Tumhi ne dard diya hai, tumhi dava dena”. So, for them the words are, “you have charged me with corruption, you absolve me of it” and the BJP has been kind enough to do so across the country. Those wanting to wash their sins have to go to the Ganga, but political leaders with corruption charges are blessed that the BJP comes to their doorsteps to absolve them.

Even as some people were coming to terms with defections being part of Indian politics, the shocking incidence of nullification of eight votes in the Chandigarh mayoral elections has come to light. Prima facie this is manipulation and tampering as was seen on camera. It exposes the extent to which people can go to grab power; this is a dangerous sign.

In the light of all that is happening, we should introduce a different system in our electoral process, where a non-BJP candidate is allowed to contest with the clause that in case of being elected, s/he will join hands with the BJP. Another method could be to have preferential system of voting where non-BJP candidates will get preference from the voters to join the BJP, in case the BJP candidate fails to win. This will ensure that nobody is held guilty of defection.

Better still would be not to hold elections and waste money, given the number of defections. That day may not be far.

The author is a senior journalist and media trainer. He tweets at @a_mokashi

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