Congress in a bind on possible alliance with Nitish

Author: 
Arun Srivastava

After Nitish Kumar walked out from the grand alliance, Rahul Gandhi, then Congress general secretary, had accused him of sacrificing his credibility and rules for power. Power makes a man lose his credibility, he had stated.
Annoyed with Nitish’s shifting of loyalty, Rahul had even remarked; “I knew about this planning of BJP and JDU and it was under discussion for 3-4 months and that Nitish Kumar has forgotten all the rules and regulations of politics.” He had remarked; “Satta ke liye vyakti kuch bhi kar jaata hai, koi neeyam, credibility nahin hai.”
But after taking charge of the presidentship of the party, it appears that Rahul has forgotten his previous stance on Nitish. Had it not been the case, his senior party man Shakeel Ahmad Khan would not have suggested that Nitish Kumar was a big leader and efforts should be made to bring his Janata Dal (United) and all like-minded secular parties under one umbrella.
Khan’s statement came after RJD leader Tejashvi Yadav refused the overtures from the close aides of Nitish to accommodate him in the grand alliance. In this backdrop it obviously implied that he was speaking the party line. This sudden change in the stance and approach of the Congress is bizarre. How could a person who till yesterday was described as a betrayer and championed the cause of the BJP and its leader Narendra Modi be branded secular? This simply underlines the desperation of the Congress.
What is surprising is that Khan slammed Tejashvi’s stand, saying he “should not have said that the doors are shut for Nitish”. Obviously, he is echoing his master’s voice. One wonders what authority Khan has to slam Tejashvi Yadav? “It is high time Tejashvi learnt to act maturely and mark his words. He should understand that the focus, at present, is not on 2020 Bihar assembly polls, but on the 2019 Lok Sabha elections,” Khan said.
His most preposterous action has been to seek an explanation from Tejashvi about this refusal to accommodate Nitish. “If doors can remain open for NDA allies Hindustani Awam Morcha-Secular (HAM-S) leader Jitan Ram Manjhi and Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) leader Upendra Kushwaha, why should it remain closed for Nitish?”
Leaders like Khan have been primarily responsible for sounding the death knell for the Congress. They are driven by their own personal gains than the benefit of the party. While he has yet to spell out his electoral strategy, whether he would join hands with the secular forces, he has already fixed an appointment with BJP chief Amit Shah on July 12 possibly to discuss seat sharing. Lalu Prasad has not commented on Khan’s proposal, but it has not gone down well with the Rashtriya Janata Dal.
Nitish’s maneuvering to join the grand alliance is nothing but a shrewd attempt to increase his bargaining power to claim more seats in the BJP-led NDA. When he meets Amit Shah, he is sure to bargain hard.
Khan’s remark has put the Congress in an awkward situation. In the wake of this development the RJD’s top leaders are toying with the idea of going it alone in the LS polls if Congress insists on Nitish’s return. However, they are confident that Rahul Gandhi would not allow leaders like Khan to spoil the pitch. Tejashvi’s close relationship with the Congress president could salvage the situation. Some RJD leaders have even cautioned Congress to maintain restraint as it is a small force in the state and must understand the poll dynamics.
The RJD leaders also refer to earlier statement of Nitish wherein he said: “victory of Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led National Democrat Alliance in 2019 Lok Sabha polls was a foregone conclusion as nobody has the strength to take on the prime minister." Kumar's made this statement hours after Janata Dal (United) veteran Sharad Yadav had voiced his disapproval of the party's alliance with the BJP. (IPA)

Thursday, 12 July, 2018