THE CITIZEN COMMENT | 23 OCTOBER, 2020
Credibility at an all time low
Win or Lose, the one seemingly astute political player who seems to have photoshopped himself out of the larger picture is Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. The Bihar elections that have thrown up its usual (Yawn!) alliances, and political slang matches have showcased Kumar as a politician without much of a future. Except in state politics, at the mercy of the larger parties to support him, as his wicket seems near collapse.
It is difficult to remember that just a few years ago Nitish Kumar was being floated as a possible candidate for Prime Minister in the non-BJP parties camp. From an intelligent politician with a plan, Kumar moved into the realm of an over ambitious, sullen, politician with a sense of entitlement that had clearly triggered off aspirations and resulting frustration. His relationship--- never sound to begin with---with Rashtriya Janata Dal’s flamboyant Lalu prasad Yadav soured rapidly with Kumar moving into the BJP led camp that he had vociferously opposed to win an election.
This went down badly with the electorate that had voted him in with resounding enthusiasm, and Kumar soon found that the relationship with the BJP too was fraught with challenges. And some of these demeaning, in that he was a junior partner despite being the CM, and was made conscious of his limitations over and over again. And what made it worse was that he had run out of options, as his former RJD colleagues and others were not willing to get him back. The doors had been shut by the voters, in fact, in the increasingly polarised electoral field.
The elections should have come as a relief, as the last years of governance according to sources in Bihar have not been easy for Kumar who has had to take the flak directly for every act of omission and commission in the alliance government. The spreading pandemic, the return of migrant workers, the joblessness, the sheer desperation of survival in the state has all been laid squarely at Nitish Kumar’s door. Not just by the opposition but also by his major ally, the BJP, that is preparing to improve its graph in Bihar at the expense of Nitish Kumar.
Meanwhile potshots from the smaller allies are hurting the Chief Minister as well. After Ram Vilas Paswan’s death his son Chirag Paswan has lost no time in targeting the CM. Also fired by ambition, the younger Paswan sees a competitor in the almost 70 year old Nitish Kumar and is not too happy about the BJP’s declaration to keep supporting him for CM. In a tweet now Chirag Paswan has stated, “Last time, honourable Nitish Kumar ji became the chief minister with the blessings of Lalu Prasad ji and then betrayed him and became the chief minister with the blessings of the Prime Minister. This time, he is taking blessings from Narendra Modi but what if he jumps to Lalu Prasad’s camp.”
The RJD is in no hurry to scotch this rumour either, as it works against Nitish Kumar and weakens his political standing. It is clear now that while Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party has pulled out of the NDA alliance it continues to support Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP that is hoping to emerge as the single largest party in the state now. Paswan has kept up a steady tirade against Nitish Kumar, but there are no chinks in his praise for the PM and the BJP. However, he is a small player in Bihar with more noise than substance. And yet some nuisance value that he is exercising against the CM these days.
Nitish Kumar is nobody's fool. And knows that he can be CM only on the BJP’s sufferance. He would, as many of his aides whisper, would not mind going back to the non-BJP fold but the terms and conditions there too would now be too exacting for him to meet. He has lost the goodwill of the people, with the BJP now playing the role of the opposition on the ground, quietly promising the voters a good government sans Nitish Kumar. And hence, is bereft of a plan.
Sad, for a politician who could have touched the skies but instead has barely risen from the earth.