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Has Nitish Kumar handed over the blank cheque to Tejashwi Yadav?

With Nitish Kumar’s gladiatorial avatar to take on Narendra Modi, his de facto chief ministership has already passed on to Tejashwi Yadav.

Vivekanand Jha Ranchi: Indeed Nitish Kumar’s new gladiatorial avatar of taking on Narendra Modi, has already begun to have its reverberations across the length and breadth of India, especially after his Delhi visit, where he purportedly called upon almost all the conceivable faces of the opposition. The euphoric meetings to bring opposition on one platform, which began with Rahul Gandhi, finally concluded with Sharad Pawar. Small wonder then, ever since his jettisoning BJP and striking a new alliance with Laloo’s RJD, Nitish apparently appears gung ho: ‘ Wo jo 2014 mein aaye the 2024 mein rahenge ki nahi’?( Those who came in 2014, will remain in 2024?’), was a well calibrated statement meant to inject some sort of dread in BJP, as well as seeking a meaty role for himself as the prominent challenger to Narendra Modi as the face of the opposition. But then, with the evolving developments happening between his exit from NDA and emerging as the pivot for opposition unity, Nitish Kumar, notwithstanding his grandstanding, has been strategically losing space for himself as well as his party: The resignation of Nikhil Mandal, the JDU spokesperson, on the ground of his failure to defend publicly his party’s alliance with RJD, and his five legislators joining BJP in Manipur today, 13 th of September, are the landmark incidents vindicating that all is not well with Nitish Kumar and JDU.

Importantly, Nitish Kumar, prior to his leaving for Delhi, as well as his return from there to Patna, had made it a point to meet Laloo Yadav. And, if sources are to be believed, his visit to Delhi to meet the opposition leaders from various parts of spectrum, has been orchestrated by Laloo Yadav. Interestingly, Laloo today stands far taller than Nitish Kumar who, if the ground evidence is to be considered, has already surrendered to his ‘ Bare Bhai’ for running Bihar as well as chalking out his course of action for Delhi. Significantly, Nitish Kumar, before jumping the ship, had spoken to Sonia Gandhi to seek her blessings for prevailing upon the whims and fancies of Laloo’s family members. The latter had given him assurance to go ahead, which alone is the surety for Nitish Kumar to save him from the travails accruing from Laloo’s family and RJD. In other words, Nitish Kumar has mortgaged his political career with Sonia Gandhi for saving his chair as well his national ambitions to emerge as the formidable challenger to Narendra Modi at the national level.

Barely into the second month of his new alliance, Nitish Kumar, irrespective of his political postures, is pathetically reduced to the shadow of his self. He is no more the de facto chief minister, but appears to have slipped into the de jure position of chief ministership, with Tejashwi apparently seems to have the de facto control of the chief minister of the state. His assurance on behalf of the government for providing ten lac jobs, appears to convey that he is in the saddle. Moreover, the depleted and vulnerable Nitish Kumar has little manoeuvring space left intact today. Worse still, the hasty exit of Nikhil Mandal from the spokesperson of JDU is the vindication of the fact that, while the top few leaders of JDU, the close lieutenants of Nitish Kumar like Lalan Singh might still remain pliant, the rank and file of JDU has been scorching, ever since Nitish Kumar broke with BJP, seeking to stich a new alliance with RJD. Also, the merger of five JDU MLA’s with BJP in Manipur, is the growing exemplification of JDU’s inevitable slide after it broke away from BJP. Small wonder then, Nitish Kumar’s bravado notwithstanding, his political decline is for all to see; his national ambitions, developing wings at the strength of RJD and Congress, when his own party has remarkably started shrinking, engenders the million dollars question today: has Nitish Kumar committed a political hara-kiri by handing over a blank cheque to Tejashwi Yadav and, in the process, has hurtled JDU towards the path of extinction?

With the benefits of hindsight, what appears ludicrous is this: how a seasoned politician like Nitish Kumar could be so naive to have mortgaged the future of his career as well as the future of his own party, with Congress and RJD, belies all hope and rational justification? Moreover, the cadre level incompatibility between RJD and JDU has already begun asserting, with JDU being already sidelined as RJD has begun dictating terms. Also, the people of Bihar, by default, have begun presuming Tejaswi Yadav as Bihar’s new chief minister with the Nitish Kumar remaining only a ceremonial head much like Dr Manmohan Singh in UPA regime, with genuine power passing on to Tejashwi Yadav. The coming months is pregnant with far greater possibilities of the inevitable friction breaking out between Nitish and Laloo Yadav. Significantly, as both Nitish and Laloo await their interlocutor Sonia Gandhi to return back from her foreign visit, when both will make a beeline for seeking her blessings, the situation as it stands in Bihar is this: Nitish Kumar, in his wisdom, or utter lack of it, has handed over a blank cheque to Tejashwi Yadav in exchange for his national ambitions to emerge as a challenger to Narendra Modi. However, the politics is a slippery ground where anything can happen in a fraction of second. Apparently, what becomes obvious is this: Nitish kumar is playing second fiddle to Tejashwi Yadav barely into the second month of his new innings as the chief minister of Bihar.

Vivekanand Jha, author of Delhi Beckons: RaGa for NaMo, 56 Inches and The Making of Narendra Modi, Unmaking of Jawaharlal.

Vivekanand Jha is the author, academician and a Public Intellectual. He is the Convener of Education pe Charcha.

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