You are here: Home » Politics » News » National
Business Standard

Nitish Kumar caught between a rock and a hard place

His 'ghar wapsi' hasn't helped him as BJP is treating him more like an unwanted guest than the repentant prodigal son

Amulya Ganguli | IANS 

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar (File Photo)
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar (File Photo)

must have realised by now that his 'Ghar Wapsi' hasn't helped him. The is treating him more like an unwanted guest than the repentant prodigal son.

The Bihar Chief Minister's sense of being redundant in the BJP's scheme of things is likely to intensify in view of the reports that the intends to contest 25 of the 40 parliamentary seats in Bihar in 2019, leaving a paltry nine to the Janata Dal-United.

Of the remaining six, the is considering giving four to the Lok Janshakti Party of Ram Vilas Paswan, another somewhat morose camp follower of the saffron brotherhood, and two to Upendra Kushwaha's Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP).

If this kind of seat-sharing really does take place, then may well have the last laugh. His glee will be shared by for more than one reason.

First, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader knows that he will be able to present the downsizing of in the saffron camp as an insult to Bihar.

Secondly, is aware that the more sinks in public estimation, the greater will be the RJD's gain.

The only way out for the Chief Minister is to focus on development. Considering, however, that 'vikas' is Narendra Modi's trump card, the will take care to project any sign of growth in Bihar as the Prime Minister's achievement rather than the Chief Minister's.

Therefore, can be said to be caught between a rock and a hard place.

On one side is the who are perhaps the most hard-boiled pair in the country today, combining their political and official clout with a highly effective publicity machine backed by scores of vitriolic trolls and abusive bloggers who saturate the Internet with their extravagant praise for Modi and venomous tirades against his purportedly anti-and anti-Hindu opponents.

is hardly visible in the company of these boastful, swaggering allies.

On the other side of him is the equally cunning and resourceful Lalu Prasad, whose self-confidence will be boosted by the possibility of the minorities turning to him in even greater numbers at a time when the Hindutva brigade is growing stronger in the absence of a major challenge from its adversaries.

As a result, Lalu Prasad's fabled MY (Muslim-Yadav) combination in Bihar comprising 16 per cent Muslims and 11 per cent Yadavs will be as stable as ever.

These supporters are unlikely to be bothered by the charges of corruption against father and son in the Yadav family. has successfully weathered such storms before, including being debarred from holding office, but his support base has remained solid.

The may also be able to rope in a section of the Janata Dal-United who are with If the latter's claim that 72 of the 125 executive members of the party are with him is true, then may well think that he has made the biggest mistake of his life.

Even if the Chief Minister cannot be compared, as a commentator has done, with the other Kurmi leader in the BJP's company, Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Anupriya Patel, there is little doubt that will continue to play second fiddle to Modi and Amit Shah in the foreseeable future.

His position may suffer a further decline if the goes ahead with a rally of Kurmis to demonstrate that it doesn't want to depend only on to secure the votes of the Kurmis, who comprise six per cent of Bihar's population.

However, their traditional connections with the Koeris or Kushwahas (nine per cent) raises the voting percentage to a respectable figure.

In Modi's cabinet, Minister of State for Human Resource Development Upendra Kushwaha represents the Koeris. The Kurmis and Koeris are associated with Luv and Kush, the sons of Lord Ram.

For Nitish Kumar, who was considered to be prime ministerial "material" when in the "secular" camp not long ago, his present status in the BJP-led Democratic Alliance (NDA) cannot be a matter of pride.

True, there is no final word in If the economic slowdown, farmers' distress, the sense of insecurity among Muslims -- as noted by former Vice President Hamid Ansari -- and the belief among the so-called Left-Liberals that the country is becoming increasingly intolerant erode the BJP's support base in next year's assembly elections, then the may lose some of its arrogance, thereby giving the likes of more political space.

But it goes without saying that he will find it extremely difficult to regain his earlier prominence in life.

Instead, he will be seen as someone who was spooked by the RJD's formidable presence in Bihar to run for cover, presumably because the Janata Dal-United's own vote bank of Kurmis and a few other non-Yadav castes is not substantial enough.


(Amulya Ganguli is a political analyst. The views expressed are personal. He can be reached at amulyaganguli@gmail.com)

First Published: Sat, September 23 2017. 12:40 IST
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU