Bihar Political Crisis: What Has Nitish Kumar Got By Aligning With BJP?

Bihar Political Crisis: What Has Nitish Kumar Got By Aligning With BJP?

A Congress leader from the state known to be close to Kumar hinted that the Bihar CM was much hurt over not being made the Convenor of the INDIA grouping despite his major role in promoting opposition unity

Sunil GatadeUpdated: Sunday, January 28, 2024, 08:54 PM IST
article-image
Nitish Kumar |

A million-dollar question, this? What has Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar got by dumping the opposition INDIA bloc and aligning with the BJP in a huff?

The development has come as a bolt from the blue for the INDIA grouping, taking baby steps in seat sharing ahead of a tough Lok Sabha election. It has emboldened a resurgent BJP, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been moving heaven and earth for a third term.

There are no easy answers even for veteran Bihar watchers, given that 72-year-Kumar was one of the prime movers of opposition unity, having organised the first conclave in Patna way back in July last, vowing to restrict BJP to a mere 50 seats.

Much dirty linen will be washed in public by Kumar and his friend-turned-foe Lalu Prasad and Tejaswi Yadav of the RJD in the days ahead, giving hints of what went wrong. 

For detractors of the JD-U President, the answer is fair and simple. Kumar has long had the dubious distinction of being branded ‘Paltu Ram” and, therefore, it is no wonder that he has changed sides. 

Prima facie, one thing is clear. The BJP has hit an unexpected jackpot in Bihar but it is still inexplicable why Kumar went along or what forced his way when it looks like he has become an object of ridicule.

A Congress leader from the state known to be close to Kumar hinted that the Bihar CM was much hurt over not being made the Convenor of the INDIA grouping despite his major role in promoting opposition unity. 

Reports had it that the Congress had no objection to the post for Kumar but Trianmul Congress leader Mamata Banerjee vetoed. Kumar faced a crisis of credibility with some allies, for having aligned with the BJP ahead of the last Lok Sabha polls. What came as a shock for Kumar was that none of the regional parties in the grouping stood for him openly.

Kumar has been an ambitious leader and would have wanted to be projected as the PM candidate of the opposition alliance. It is said that the unwritten understanding between Kumar’s party and Lalu Prasad’s RJD was that he should be projected as the PM candidate by the RJD. That is why he promoted Tejaswi Yadav as the next CM. Outwardly, Kumar was saying that he was not after any post. But he was dying to become the Convenor. The post would have given him prospects to grow and a profile that would have helped him manoeuvre his way.

With the Lok Sabha polls approaching, the RJD had become restive, and reports were that it was trying to wean away JD-U MLAs. Lallan Singh was removed as the JD-U chief in a surprise move, by Nitish as he was getting too close to the RJD.  An air of suspicion was enveloping Bihar.

Kumar became the longest-serving Chief Minister of Bihar despite not getting a majority on his own. This speaks volumes of his shrewd politics of self-promotion. The brand of “Sushasan Babu” helped him for some time and the politics of extremely backward classes as well as the prohibition policy stabilised him.

The failure of the BJP to throw up a leader in Bihar helped Kumar. Earlier, Sushil Modi might have been the top BJP leader in the state but Nitish ensured that he remained the perfect Deputy to him.

If one sees the politics in the country for the past decade, the rise of Modi on the national scene started a gradual decline for Nitish, who have remained friends turned foes for some time and vice versa. 

BJP’s tactics in the last Assembly elections to marginalise Kumar and his JD-U despite aligning with him is said to have weakened the Bihar CM and made him see the writing on the wall. To put it bluntly, the man aiming for the sky and seeing himself as the next PM candidate of the opposition had a reality check and his objective turned into survival.

The failure to get a respectable post in the INDIA grouping and the strides by the BJP in unleashing propaganda and a huge election machine might have prompted Kumar to dump the opposition and be on what he felt was the winning side. , 'God is usually on the side of the big squadrons against the small,' he might have thought. At the moment, Modi is head and shoulders above any opposition leader. 

The future will reveal what bargain Kumar has struck with the BJP.  What is clear at the moment is that his actions have not gone down well with his well-wishers and admirers. With BJP putting up two powerful leaders as Deputy CMs, Bihar could witness all the drama and controversy seen in Maharashtra with the advent of Eknath Shinde. 


(The author is a senior journalist based in New Delhi.)

RECENT STORIES

RBI Imposes Restrictions On Kotak Mahindra Bank: A Wake-Up Call for IT Governance In Indian Banking

RBI Imposes Restrictions On Kotak Mahindra Bank: A Wake-Up Call for IT Governance In Indian Banking

Analysis: Trump Trial Busts The Myth That in America, All Are Equal

Analysis: Trump Trial Busts The Myth That in America, All Are Equal

Analysis: Congress Leans Left On Right To Property; How Will SC Decide?

Analysis: Congress Leans Left On Right To Property; How Will SC Decide?

Editorial: Rahul Gandhi’s Povertarian Pitch

Editorial: Rahul Gandhi’s Povertarian Pitch

Dream Girl Missing In Action In Mathura

Dream Girl Missing In Action In Mathura