Nitish Kumar
Nitish Kumar

Politicians, cricketers and actors seldom retire; more often than not, they are shown the door.

Nitish Babu may be an exception to the rule: On Thursday, he announced his retirement from politics. But Nitish is no MS Dhoni and most political observers felt he had read the writing on the wall – a grim foreboding of what lies ahead; so, he was simply positioning himself for the post-poll scenario.

Others saw in it a desperate gambit to wean away voters by reminding them that he was 69 years old, worn out and fatigued, and they should save him the blushes of an ignominious exit.

Predictably, the Johnny-come lately, Tejaswhi Prasad Yadav, welcomed the announcement and declared, "Nitish Kumar is worn out" – a theme on which he has harped during the campaign.

Nitish, of course, has had a long uninterrupted innings since February 2005. Nonetheless, had the going been indeed good for the party, he would not have tried to strike an emotional chord by declaring: "This is the last day of the election campaign, this is the last meeting. This is my last election. All is well, if it ends well.’’

Lest it is seen as a flippant remark, Nitish’s office also put out a press release which said: "The Chief Minister has announced that Bihar assembly election 2020 is going to be the last of his political career."

However, a ‘last election’ may not necessarily mean political ‘sanyas’, pointed out a veteran journalist. Rather, it could be a hint to the BJP and PM Modi that he would be better ‘deployed’ at the Centre, given that the NDA is walking on crutches ever since it was deserted by the Akali Dal and the Shiv Sena.

Prem Ranjan Patel, BJP spokesman, feels Nitish was expressing his angst at the ruckus in some of his rallies. ‘‘Nitish Kumar is very sensitive and was disturbed at the unseemly protests in the rallies. However, people of Bihar will not allow Kumar to relinquish his pre-eminent role in State politics. ‘‘He is the Vikas Purush and his presence is essential for growth of the state. There is no alternative to Nitish Kumar".

Among those who welcomed the announcement was BJP leader and Union Minister Giriraj Singh, but he has his personal good reasons for doing so.

Congress leader Randeep Surjewala was blunt and reasoned that Kumar has possibly realised that the JDU-BJP alliance is on a sticky wicket and he has therefore conceded defeat. ‘‘He should apologise to the people of Bihar and retire gracefully,’’ pointed out Surjewala.

The last word came from Tejaswhi Prasad Yadav. ‘‘I have been proven right. He was not able to handle Bihar. He is worn out and wants to retire. We have been saying this for a long time. He has understood the ground reality".

LJP president Chirag Paswan was less gracious. "Nitish Kumar announced his retirement without submitting the report card of the last five years. Saheb, ab hum kisse hisab mangenge.’’

There was no word from JD-U leaders and curiously no attempt to dissuade him from walking into the sunset. Shivananad Tiwari, RJD vice-president, summed it up. ‘‘He has used the only emotional weapon that was in his quiver to soften the electorate. It is a stunt."

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Free Press Journal