Nitish Kumar, a man who once dreamt of being the prime ministerial candidate, has now perhaps jeopardised his future. There is only one question which is doing rounds in national media since last week – Was Nitish Kumar correct with his decision of allying with the old friend and foe – the BJP and exiting the Mahagatbandhan?. In answer to this, mainstream media can be found almost equally divided and magnanimously speculative. What remains to be seen is whether Nitish Kumar, the face of the opposition till last week, meets with a fate similar of Phillipe Petain. Petain was asked to lead France in the World War II only because of his heroics of World War I. The French presumed that Petain would exhilarate the French morale and stage a spectacular fight back. When Paris fell, Petain became the head of the Vichy government, having an active role in the persecution of Jews and advancement of Nazi interests. Though he claimed he was playing a double game for the benefit of the French, he lost his charm, credibility, aura, and freedom
Ever since 2013, post the declaration of Narendra Modi as the NDA’s prime ministerial candidate, Kumar snapped ties with the NDA and campaigned voraciously for a ‘Sang mukt Bharat’ (RSS free India). All these campaigns bore fruits as along with his ‘Bihari Brother’ the Mahagatbandhan was able to stop the saffronisation of the Hindi heartland, by winning the Bihar polls in 2015. After which the chances of him becoming the face of opposition alliance in 2019 became increasingly prominent and vibrant. With this political U-turn that proposed alliance, now may fail to find a proper sail anymore.
Now the question is, whether Nitish Kumar’s move is a result of shrewd Political opportunism or is it nothing but a brilliantly orchestrated suicidal move? To answer, The Hindu created a timeline for Nitish’s political journey :
1985: Nitish Kumar elected to the State Assembly
1989: Backs Lalu Prasad in bagging the chair of the Leader of Opposition
1996: Switches loyalty to BJP
From 1998 to 2004: He served in the NDA government under A.B. Vajpayee in various capacities as the Railway, Surface Transport and Agriculture Minister
November 2005: Became Bihar Chief Minister with the BJP as the coalition partner
June 2013: Broke alliance with the BJP when it was clear that Narendra Modi was the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate
February 2015: Allies with Lalu Prasad and contests the Assembly election, forming grand alliance with the Congress
July 2016, 2017: Takes another U-turn, decides to ally with the BJP to form the government in the State. Takes oath as Chief Minister for the sixth time, this time with the BJP’s help.
Evidentally, with political opportunism taking the front seat, the most recent U-turn of Kumar seems to be a well thought out move. Kumar supported the Modi government in its demonetization drive and also in the recently concluded Presidential elections, something that was not well accepted by the opposition alliance. With the sudden unearthing of the scandals of Tejaswi Yadav and Misa Bharti, Kumar seems to have set up the stage for a brilliant tectonic shift that would purify his image as Mr Corruption Free.
In hindsight, what Kumar has lost in this tie-up is his rise to the ‘hot seat’. With Modi in the lead, there is very little left for Kumar in the national politics as a part of NDA. It is what gives rise to all the speculation and confusion regarding Kumar joining the NDA. There are two possible solutions to this question, one being that Kumar is happy with the regional role and happy to have a free hand in Bihar.
The second one, on the other hand, is darker for the democracy of India, and that is whether this abrogation of regional parties is giving rise to a neo-fascist regime and furthering its grip on choking dissent. At the end of all this political drama, all the other parties in the contention must be thinking is “in the name of democracy, let us all unite!”