Bihar’s ruling alliance may be safe for now, but Nitish Kumar’s national ambitions have been dented
The decision of Chief Kumar Bihar, Minister Nitish to support the presidential candidate of the Bharatiya Janata party, instead of opposition candidate, resulted in a tug-of-war on the issue between him and his alliance partners last week. The battle may have ended by now, with the government alliance in Bihar for sure, but the question remains whether Kumar will ever recover the eminence among the opposition parties.
Kumar became the mascot of the anti-BJP alliance in the Bihar Assembly elections, 2015. He led a large-scale alliance – which included Janata Dal (States) Kumar, the Rashtriya Janata Dal and Congress – to fool the Celebration of saffron in the state. The stature won and took him home to clear national ambitions. It was even discussed as a candidate to be the opposition to prime minister in 2019.
However, the Kumar flip on the crucial issue of the presidential election shook his allies. He is now regarded as independent and as one who is not essentially opposed to the Hindutva Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh project despite his personal differences with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The statement on Tuesday by Janata Dal (states) leader KC Tyagi as former party ally, the BJP, “never hurts at any stage” as an ideological breakdown event, almost bordering on blackmail politics. This was clearly to silence allies Kumar after his decision to support Ram Nath Kovind, opposition candidate Meira Kumar.
Before 2015, the Janata Dal (States) ruled Bihar, in alliance with the National Democratic Alliance led by the BJP until Kumar left before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
The Tyagi outbreak was preceded by a series of statements by senior leaders of the RJD and Congress against the decision to support Kumar Kovind. While RJD chief Lalu Prasad criticized the prime minister of Bihar for a “historical error” last week, his son and Bihar Deputy CM Tejashwi, advised Sunday Leader Janata Dal (States) against “political expediency.”
Ghulam Nabi Azad, leader of the Ghulam Nabi Azad Congress, made a veiled attack on Kumar the next day, accusing him of being “governed by various principles” and accusing him of abandoning ideology in associating the BJP for the presidential election.
Just when it seemed that the name of the call devouring the secular alliance, Kumar and Lalu Yadav have suddenly soldered. His spokesman is suppressed to give the impression that all is well in the alliance in the Bihar power.
The message is clear – whether the rupture would have caused a loss of power for the Rashtriya Janata Dal, which would have meant drifting into a completely uncertain lawn for Janata Dal (States).
Many Janata Dal (state) leaders admit that a new alliance with the BJP would not be the same as before, until Kumar joined the National Democratic Alliance in June 2013, ending a 17-year relationship.
If he is outside the secular alliance in Bihar, Kumar would have enough votes to stay in office if he had been chosen to join the BJP. But it is doubtful that a resurgence of the BJP would have operated under the Janata Dal (States) for a long time before the Lok Sabha elections.