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Is Nitish Kumar on the verge of another political somersault ?

 Nitish Kumar, an expert in the political messaging, has made it clear by his abstinence from signing the letter to prime minister seeking the immediate stop of different agencies harassing the opposition. Unequivocally, Nitish Kumar refusing to do so, especially when he has been vocal against the Modi government for its arbitrary steps to disintegrate the opposition, sets at rest his firm attitude towards corruption: he believes that ongoing investigation against Laloo is not the witch hunt of Modi government, but the genuine investigation against the massive fraud commited by Laloo Yadav in the past when he was the railway minister.

Vivekanand Jha Ranchi: Nitish Kumar, over decades of his political career, has proven himself a master acrobat, whose political calisthenics can put even the greatest of gymnasts and acrobats to shame. In the course of my visit to Patna, in the year 2016, when I hat a meeting with the then Chairman of the Bihar Vidhan Parishad, Sri Awadhesh Narayan Singh, he apprised me the state of situation prevailing in Bihar: how, even invoking the name of BJP and Narendra Modi was a taboo then. Miraculously, when I was on a sojourn to Delhi, one of the senior bureaucrats dropped a bombshell: ‘ Look, you people continue to write day in and day out, yet see, how these politicians blow into smithereens the last vestiges of political principles and scruples: Nitish Kumar had taken a u-turn; ditching Laloo in no time, he had befriended his immediate foe: his erstwhile friend BJP. Thus Nitish Kumar had proved to be the most untrustworthy face of politics.

The incumbent chief minister of Bihar

As the proverb goes, ‘, ‘once beaten twice shy’, exceptionally though, has failed to apply in case of Nitish Kumar: those at the receiving end of Nitish’ treachery, instead of treating him as an abhorrent contagion, paradoxically appeared ever eager to embrace him if he so willed. This Nitish had ceaseless temptations to somersault: Paltu Chacha, the nick name slapped upon him by Tejaswi, forgot all about Nitish Kumar’s betrayal when he once again decided to dump BJP in favour of RJD. Nitish Kumar was now expediently in nuptial bonding with Laloo. However, given the habitual impulse of Nitish Kumar to ditch his alliance partner, I kept my finger crossed: I sensed Nitish Kumar would be losing his significance and political importance while remaining an ally of RJD. Besides, his party’s inner revolt, ever sharpening after the realisation dawned on his party leaders that Nitish Kumar, unconscionably though, was conceding greater space to his ally, RJD, and in the process, he was subtly, yet definitively, was losing his strategic space and heft to RJD. Also, Nitish Kumar’s abdication of his authority and power, engendered the dual power command: Tejaswi was increasingly looked upon as the chief minister of Bihar whereas Nitish Kumar was left looking in other direction.

The former chief minister accused of corruption under the job for land scam.

With the benefits of hindsight, Nitish Kumar, whose ambitions to become the prime minister was an open secret. However, his severe limitation brought about by the inconsequential position of his party at the national level, hobbled his ambition developing any tangible wings. A shrewd politician as he is, sooner than later, the realisation quickly dawned upon him that all his dreams had no solid template, especially when Congress had been strengthening its aspiration around Rahul Gandhi taking on Modi, Nitish Kumar realised the fragility of his aspiration. The grand success of ‘Bharat Jodo’ mission has further sharpened the candidacy of Rahul as an opposition mascot to take on Modi phenomenon. Where then is the chance of Nitish Kumar to be declared as the joint opposition candidate, Nitish realised it, and is now beginning to feel uncomfortable in the company of RJD. He knows in 2025, It would be Tejaswi, not Nitish Kumar, who will be showcased as the chief minister of Bihar. Thus the obsolescence of Nitish Kumar is staring nakedly at his face, in the wake of the increasing dominance of RJD in the state politics.

The deputy chief minister of Bihar, being paraded as the next chief minister of the state.

In hindsight, Nitish Kumar in 2017, had purportedly ditched Laloo and joined BJP against the severe charges of corruption levelled against the former. Incidentally, the same situation revisits Nitish yet again: The CBI had ordered an enquiry into Laloo Yadav’s job for land scam, which is an extremely serious corruption charges levelled against the former chief minister. No wonder, Nitish Kumar who has publicly taken a stand against corruption, cannot be seen to be protecting it. Thus the letter sent to prime minister Modi by eight party leaders–RJD, NCP, Shiv Sena of Uddhav, Trinamool, Rashtriya Sangharsh Samity of Chandrasekhar –surprisingly excludes the name of Janata Dal United. Nitish Kumar does not want to be seen supporting corruption. Apparently, as the investigation against Laloo deepens, Nitish Kumar’s restlessness too will. Hence against this backdrop, Nitish Kumar’s conspicuous omission is the precursor to his weighing the option of his another somersault: joining the BJP or NDA bandwagon. He, therefore, might have begun exploring the option of his re-entry into NDA, with scores of his friends and party colleagues like Harivansh, the deputy chairman of Rajya Sabha, the man considered close to Modi and Shah, may already have been provided with the leverage to negotiate the best terms and conditions for his re-entry into BJP, which can provide Nitish Kumar a longer political innings in Bihar, which will go beyond 2025–his and his party’s immediate cause of existential concerns.

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

Vivekanand Jha, Author, Academician and a Public Intellectual. He is an author of Yes, I am Bihari.

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