By Dr. Gyan Pathak
The last one week has triggered a range of speculations regarding the direction in which Bihar politics is moving which included the claim that chief minister Nitish Kumar will be moving to play a greater political role in New Delhi and the counter claim that he will remain CM of Bihar until 2025. However, despite the claims and counter claims, the political picture is still hazy, but the continuance of the speculation indicates a political underflow in the state which may be heading towards a new era of politics.
All these began with when the by-election results of the Bochahan Vidhan Sahba were out in which the opposition RJD candidate Amar Kumar Paswan defeated the BJP candidate Baby Kumari by a margin of 36,000. The opposition interpreted it a result of lost illusion of the people suffering from the misrule of JD(U)-BJP misrule. However, CM Nitish Kumar said the result was not very meaningful, but added that people are supreme who vote for whoever they like. He was not looking concerned at all with the defeat of the BJP candidate, moreover betraying his happiness within in his expressions and body language, that was picked up by the political pundits as indication of “something is wrong between Nitish and the BJP”. It was despite Nitish’s opinion that the by-election result must not be too much analyzed. The question is why Nitish Kumar desires so? Is there something veiled that too much analysis may reveal?
As for the speculation that Nitish Kumar may be quitting Bihar Politics by resigning from the post of Chief Minister for playing a greater national political role in New Delhi, there are several reasons. Nitish Kumar is one of the most senior non-BJP politicians in the country who entertains great respect from the leaders across the political parties in the country. There was also a time when he was considered as a potential Prime Ministerial candidate to lead the non-BJP government at the centre. It is also well known how he opposed the rise of Narendra Modi in the NDA on account of Gujarat riots of 2002 and had come out of the alliance. He has ruled Bihar for a long time which might have pushed him in a situation in which he has no charm left there. His ambition, therefore, may be pushing him towards playing a greater role in national politics, for which the right time might have come since Lok Sabha elections are only two years away.
It is why when Nitish Kumar recently moved out of the designated official residence of the CM at 1, Anney Marg to a house at 7 Circular Road, there started speculations in the political corridors in Patna that he would soon resign from the post of Chief Minister. Nitish Kumar himself has not yet reacted on such speculations, but one of his ministers and senior JD(U) leader Sanjay Kumar Jha has asserted that Nitish would remain the CM for the full term and continue in the office till 2025.
“In Bihar, the NDA has been contesting assembly elections under the leadership of Nitish Kumar since 2005. … We have got the mandate for a period up to 2025. … I want to make it very clear that Nitish Kumar will continue as the chief minister of Bihar till 2025,” Sanjay Jha asserted. However, when asked as to why Nitish Kumar moved to another house other than the designated official residence? Because of the ongoing repair works which were pending for last few years, he replied.
The reason provided was, however, not being taken seriously in the political corridors in Patna, since people had seen Nitish and his son Nishant moving to the new house with all bag and baggage. The CM’s cows were also moved to the new house. It has created doubts among people because no one vacates one’s premises for only some repairs.
“We all get our houses renovated. But when did we last see somebody moving out with all belongings, including cattle?” questions former Lok Janshakti Party president Chirag Paswan who is now leading a faction now after a split in the party. Moving to a huse other than the designated official bungalow for renovation purposes was “not as simple as it seems,” he asserted.
The speculations have another reason too. Nitish Kumar walked down to participate in an iftar party hosted by the opposition RJD leader Tejasvi Yadav at his residence situated at a stone’s throw distance. He talked there with Tejasvi and his mother and former chief minister Rabri Devi. Nitish Kumar himself tried to stop the speculations regarding shifting sands of politics in the state by counter questioning how was it possible not to go in such an event when one was invited too fondly?
Even this reply is not considered plausible, since Nitish Kumar took five years to walk down to Tejavi Yadav’s house. Keeping away five years, walking down to Yadav’s, and the sudden increase in fondness, are themselves indications of some change, perhaps also in politics.
If we look at the recent attitude adopted by Nitish Kumar, it gives a fair idea that he is not at the same page with the BJP. He took diametrically opposite stand in respect to BJP and the Central leadership on a range of issues such as population policy, Pegasus snooping, caste census, CAA, and also regarding special status of Bihar. Nitish Kumar is known for springing up surprises and political turns, who was with Lalu Yadav in the beginning, deserted him, joined NDA, snapped old ties with BJP over Narendra Modi’s tainted Gujarat performance during 2002 riots, embraced RJD under Lalu Yadav, again deserted him to rejoin NDA he is with even now. Will he align with a united opposition front in making against the BJP at the national level or remain with NDA? What will be his next move is therefore a million dollar question. (IPA Service)