BJP candidate a 71- year-old Dalit Ramnath Kovind in all possibility will be winning the presidential election on July 17 since BJP has the number that they need in the bag. The main motive of Modi and Amit Shah behind fielding a Dalit candidate was to dismantle the ‘Mahagat Bandhan’ (Grand alliance) before the grand elections in 2019 and they appear to be succeeding at it since the parties like JDU, BJD, AIADMK, TRS and YSR have already vowed their support to Ramnath Kovind.
Nitish Kumar however has been evidently unhappy with the Grand Alliance and its inability to choose a presidential candidate. According to the media reports Nitish was extremely upset with the repeated pointless meetings that the opposition held. “You people cannot even decide on a name. We just keep having meetings. If we wanted an election, we should have announced a name before the BJP. This is not Lucknow where you exhibit manners and grace by saying first, you go ahead,” Nitish Kumar apparently told senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad who made a desperate trip to see him in Patna at a local congress Iftar on Tuesday evening.
Nitish was one of the first few of the opposition leaders who came forward openly and announced his support for BJP’s Dalit candidate even before NDA candidate was announced. Now that NDA has filed Meira Kumar, a Dalit woman from Bihar. We would have expected Nitish to change his decision but Nitish has stuck to his decision. Nitish’s decision can be viewed as smart move especially when the times are not really good for his alliance Lalu Prasad Yadav and his family because of all the corruption charges that they are facing, which only puts Nitish in bad light. Also this is clearly not the first time that Nitish has tried to build and rebuild the bridges with Modi and BJP.
Nitish has supported the Modi government openly during the surgical strike and the demonetisation, while the other Sonia and Lalu were still criticizing the government. By choosing Meira Kumar Sonia and Lalu wanted to put Nitish in tough position which they surely have achieved, and that seems to be the reason why Nitish possibly skipped the meeting with Sonia and Lalu on June 22. Lalu Prasad rubbed it in, saying triumphantly “Bihar Ki Beti, Babu, Jagjivan Ram Ki Beti (she is both Bihar’s Daughter and Jagjivan Ram’s daughter).
Nitish supporting Kovind is an evidence to the fact that the ‘Grand Alliance’ is not as strong as it should have been and this is what the BJP would have wanted. Nitish Kumar and Lalu Yadav may claim that all is well in the alliance in Bihar, but Nitish is clearly unhappy with Lalu. With less than 2 years left for the general elections power hungry Nitish might be making the right moves. An alliance with BJP can open up new possibilities for him, how this is to play out is yet to be seen.