Political uncertainty in Bihar

The three-party mahagathbandhan that ensured the defeat of BJP and the return of Nitish Kumar as the Chief Minister of Bihar for the second time, is showing visible strains. The fault-lines have appeared after a year and a half. Nitish was feeling uncomfortable in the company of Lalu and his progeny but his equation with the Congress was quite comfortable. But after his unconditional support to the demonetization decision of Prime Minister Modi last November and his support to the BJP nominee for the presidency now has embittered his relations with the Congress. When Nitish agreed to form the alliance with the Congress and the RJD, he knew both Lalu’s track record and his temperament. In the Assembly polls, Lalu emerged as the leader of the party which had the largest number of legislators. But the RJD did not claim the top post. It went to Nitish as had been agreed upon before the polls.
Nitish’s sudden cosying to the BJP has sprung a surprise to his allies and given rise to speculations about his intentions. Bihar BJP leader Sushil Modi has let it be known that Nitish would be welcome as an ally. Lalu Prasad has maintained a restraint quite uncharacteristic of him. He has said the alliance is in no danger and will continue. But the JD(U) is afraid that Lalu may pull the rug from under Nitish’s feet anytime. It is not clear why. The probe into his sons’ and daughter’s alleged benami property is being conducted by the CBI, not by the State Government. Even if the Nitish Government falls, the inquiries will continue.
Nitish can go back to the NDA where he will be welcomed but his hope of becoming prime minister someday will be doomed BJP will gain in every way. They will have Nitish Kumar in their clutches. It is the people of Bihar who will feel let down. Under Nitish, Bihar has at least remained free from hate crimes like lynching and harassment of the minorities and dalits by self-appointed vigilante groups. The Congress may have already reconciled itself to the inevitable dissolution of the Nitish Government. Unlike Lalu and his RJD, the Congress does not have any mass base either. But that does not seem to bother the Grand Old Party any longer. It knows that for survival it has to follow the policy of alliance with like-minded parties. It has no other go.

Monday, 3 July, 2017