Nitish Kumar’s political opportunism


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15 Apr 2013

 
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Nitish Kumar’s political opportunism

Who said this in May of 2002?

“Every political party has the right to make a decision. But Paswan’s decision had nothing to do with Gujarat. The Gujarat violence has been taking place for the last two months.”

And this in December of 2002?

“Congratulating the BJP, its allies at the Centre on Sunday refuted suggestions of any “polarisation” of votes in Gujarat but said it was a verdict against the Congress.

“The people of Gujarat were aggrieved with the kind of image painted outside the State and hence reacted in this way.”

And this in 2004?

“Briefing mediapersons following Mr Lalu Prasad’s charge that he had not got the Godhra incident probed sufficiently, the former Railway Minister denied it and accused his successor of “acting irresponsibly.” “This is a political statement meant to address a particular community,” he said.”

And again in 2005?

“It is a political stunt but they (the Centre) should know that they cannot take advantage of the Gujarat riots again and again.”

And finally in 2007?

Congratulating Narendra Modi for his victory in the Assembly elections in Gujarat, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday said Railway Minister and RJD supremo Lalu Prasad was happy over Modi’s victory as his importance in the UPA at the Centre would remain intact.

And here we are in 2013 as Bihar Chief Minister and JD-U leader Nitish Kumar waxes eloquently on Raj Dharma, when what he really means is that he wants his party to have the freedom and flexibility to pursue Rajneeti Dharma. One cannot fault Nitish Kumar’s desire to go down the path of political opportunism. After all, his path to power in Bihar was built on such opportunism at the BJP’s expense.

A timeline trace of Nitish Kumar’s remarks between 2002 and 2007 tells a fascinating story of the pursuit of the incremental Muslim vote in Bihar, as Nitish’s JD-U grew at the expense of both the Congress and the RJD drawing in dubious individuals, including the now vocal Shivanand Tiwari, who not too long ago was Lalu Yadav’s mouthpiece.

On the surface it may seem to be a story of opportunism and hypocrisy while deep down it is a story of cold realpolitik and naked ambition going all the way back to 2000, and Nitish’s first attempt at becoming the Chief Minister of Bihar.

There is however little room for gratitude in competitive electoral politics. What is interesting though, is how the interpersonal dynamics between Nitish Kumar and Narendra Modi shaped up over the years.

This Indian Express editorial from 2005 highlights the extent to which the BJP in general and Modi in particular obliged Nitish to enable him to build his story in Bihar after Nitish’s botched attempt at forming a Government in Bihar in 2000 with help from the BJP.

The most fascinating aspect of this story however, is that while Narendra Modi kept away from Bihar, neither campaigning nor saying much about Nitish, it is Nitish who cast the first stone while campaigning in Gujarat during the 2007 Assembly elections on behalf of the JD-U and against the BJP. In fact, through the exhaustive search of Google News archive, it is hard to find a single direct comment by Narendra Modi on Nitish Kumar during that entire period.

While Nitish Kumar may be the toast of Delhi’s Left-leaning media on account of this new-born Modi-allergy (about five years old to be precise), there is an ugly casteist underbelly to his politics that Delhi’s elite seems to have glossed over.

There is no denying that Mr Nitish Kumar’s regime in Bihar has been a fine balancing act between the narrative of development and the realpolitik of caste. In recent times Nitish Kumar’s record has come under intense scrutiny over the latter with the Mahadalit schemes being questioned, and the Ranvir Sena’s violence being highlighted.

There is also no denying that after VP Singh, it is Mr Nitish Kumar who comes across as the next Mandal messiah with his micro-mandalisation of traditional caste and minority vote banks through new acronyms and monikers – EBCs, MBCs, Mahadalits and OBC Muslims.

The Indian Express earlier on Monday, carried an extensive piece based on ground reports from eight districts in Bihar on the casteist fault-lines that have bred discontent towards the Nitish regime. In particular, the Indian Express cites “Nitish’s political signalling in cancelling his Adhikar Yatra to Ara following the killing of Barmeshwar Mukhiya, chief of the disbanded Ranvir Sena, as not having gone down well with the people.”

Whether rooted in principles or realpolitik or sheer opportunism, Nitish Kumar is free to take his JD-U whichever way he wants. But he needs to realise that in the in the world of politics – acceptability is a two-way street. As for the BJP, realpolitik lies in driving the hardest bargain with its allies, whilst keeping its options open to the fullest extent. The BJP would do well to call the allies’ bluff on whose leadership it will fight the elections under, while keeping the door open on how that leadership negotiates pre-poll and post-poll options.

This is not only smart bargaining but also central to its personality as a political force that wants to be seen as a power to reckon with.

Only a foolish and suicidal political party would hand its allies, who are in no way committed to its long term well-being, a veto on the choice of its future leadership.


Shashi Shekhar is the CEO of Niti Digital. Views expressed here are his personal opinions and do not in anyway reflect the Editorial Stance of Niti Central.

(c) NiTi Digital. Reproduction and/or reposting of this content is strictly prohibited under copyright laws.


 
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  • Rakesh

    Recently the biggest demoralizing news in India were some where related to Bihar. Be it was Amar Javan Jyoti desecrator, Hyderbad Bomb Blast or Damini Rapist. May be by opposing nationalist like Modi, Nitish is targeting vote of these terrorist elements. Good Going Nitish Kumar. Shame on you…

  • Hitesh

    Nitishkumar bakwas has raise so many issues.

    1) secularism: but he is not secular because doing vote bank polities like congress. Modi is right for secular definition Ind ian First whatever you do,think.

    2) Inclusive growth: I think first Nitish has to understand that when Modi has given Electricity 24×7 for all and for farmer 10Hrs per day within 2001 to 2005(five year)Now Gujarat is the only state has enjoying and all Gujarat Discom are in profit making except all other states in India are in 2 lakh carore debt(last 7 years what Nitish has done for Bihar for electricity), Narmada River tap water to almost 80% of Gujarat, 2000 Kms Gas grid in all major city, Brod band connection to all 18000 villages with fiber optics, in 2001 only 11 university are working in Gujarat and student was going outside Gujarat for admission in Pune,Mumbai, Bangalore Duliya and other states but now it is more then 41 university with 60000 seats of engineering 25000 Farmercy , 20000 doctors and other more then 1lakh seats for arts and commerce( Nitishkumar is not able to pay the salary of his state teachers and professors what he did for Bihar), each and every villages are a proper roads in gujarat. ( What Nitish has done)

    3) Malnourished and Human Index: Now latest CAG report say that Gujarat has improved as best state to handle Malnourished. In 2004-05 data it is 75% and now it is 42% means 33% improvement in malnourished (Nitishkumar’s Bihar is still 79% with last state in India to improve what type of action Nitish has done last 7 years).

    In Human Index all over world know how bad Bihar is, So no need to give data here.

    4) –Gujarat per Capita income 2012-13 is Rs 95000 second highest in India and Bihar is Rs 30000. half then National average.

    – Gujarat GDP contribution to the nation is 8%( but population is only 5%) and Bihar is only 0.2%(( but population is 8%).

    – Gujarat model is for all because Modi is focusing 33% for manufacturing, 33% Agriculture and 33% is for Service sectors and Now He has all read implemented same in Gujarat and He has proven though Gujarat GDP growth in all above sector last 10 years.and that model is sustainable for long life not like Bihar there is no such ideas in all over India like this. pls verify domestic investment in Gujarat no where Bihar in this list. No such factory in Bihar without these how can this model can sustain long I am not understand. without money you can not do any think that why Nitish eyes are always in Center not thinking for improve his own resources.

    – some of the facts : 98% salt,95% soda ash, 20% Milk, 15% Cotton, 20% wheat, 40% petroleum product, 90% of Diamond in world, 50% pharmaceutics,60% of solar and wind energy are contributing Gujarat to India. Where is Bihar, I am not even hurt about any good company in Bihar.

    This is only little points I have mentioned here. other points next time.Please read and give your opinion.

    Thanks

  • Raju P

    Very lucky for him, with BjP’s support, strength and field work, Nitish is enjoying his power
    and governance, without Opposition Leader in the Bihar Assembly. He got the power on the
    platter, hence the arrogance. Bihar BJP till now played a second fiddle and gave all the credit/fame
    to this wily little politician, who back-stabbed his erstwhile mentor George Fernandes. People
    are watching and waiting patiently to teach him and lesson and dump him very soon.

  • GLAD

    IF ANYBODY THAT CAN INHIBIT A GRAND RESURGENCE OF BJP IN NEXT PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS: IT IS BJP ITSELF

    if the very party ‘with a difference’ doesn’t have convictions and faith in its own abilities; i am sorry no one is going to help you! in an era of ‘coalition of opportunism’ no one is going to give you sh!t lest you emerge as a largest party and NAMO is that trump card, believe it or not!

    Dhimmi, Nitish (who is next to none, including lalus, paswans and mulla-yams in appeasement) will get you at best 15-20 seats, severe ties with him (that will crush his ego and evaporate his self-presumption of being king maker, secondly your confidence will reflect in party workers) HE IS NOT WORTH MODI’S NAILS, but if MODI is not the one middle class is going to vote for, it will kill enthu of voters. secondly, yes, modi can usher polarisation like never before and can easily compensate as well replenish the seat tally of BJP by 100+ seats

    …if politicians are vying for a tiny minority vote pie, why cant BJP make a big-consolidated hindu vote bank with its centre-of-right ideology (not necessarily engrained in RAM mandir rhetorics)….choose leaders wisely, OBC+FWD vote bank in UP is going to be crucial…..
    …people are getting fed-up with sickular policies of ruling dispensation, esp in BENGAL, MAHA, UP (most crucial state)
    ….modi’s secular narrative that begins with COUNTRY FIRST is fair and strikes resonance, and off-recent GODHRA POLEMIC has fizzled out
    …..lastly, come out of the delusion that muslims will ever vote for you, no matter how much sickular you become, and already they are too many contenders competing to stoop lower than the other

    MOREOVER KHUJLITARDS (in-campus educated folks who have a very theoretical world view) can be attracted towards MODI b’coz of his over-bearing persona, b’coz boys today want strong and honest leader and MODI OVERWHELMINGLY EPITOMISE IT

    AND OTHER PROBLEM IN BJP: conservative top brass BJP leadership, they are the bigger problem; i will say just one thing LIVE THE IDEALS YOU HAVE BEEN VOUCHING FOR ALL YOUR LIFE……..merit should give way to reputation…..BLESS MODI…..COUNTRY MATTERS NOT INDIVIDUAL ACCOMPLSIHMENTS………..retreat to politics of sacrifice….LET THE COUNTRY WIN

    JAI HIND!

  • http://nticentral.com Hari Om

    Nation wants Modi, not topiwallah, communal, narrow-minded and anti-Hindu Nitish.

  • sidharan

    It is high time that we throw communal frauds like Nitish Kumar whose clones we have seen in thousands since Gandhi , Nehru era

    Enough is enough.

    Arre Nitish Kumar go to kashmir and deliver your goddamn secular sermons.
    Try to start the JD(U ) unit there and try to get a Hindu elected- not even as MLA or MP but a municipal councillor.
    try to put ’tilak’ on the forehead of Omar abdullah. or put a saropa or pagadi on his head! If you succeed then let us know.

    You have the cheapness and gall to criticise Modi for not wearing musilm cap.

    You wear it permanently. But dont try to put that on our heads
    we are sick of it.

    This country is secular because the Hindus are in a majority

    Please stop fooling and humiliating the Hindus who are the only secular people on earth

    If you want power dont try to betray the Motherland. even your uneducated grandma would not have dreamed of betraying her Motherland. Dont you have even the goodness of that uneducated lady.

    Is Giving Haj subsidy secular?
    Is reservation for Muslims secular?
    You wear a muslim cap , participate in iftar party and eat biriyani ,drink gruel on Ramzan- are these things secular?

    There are million more things we can say
    So stop your cheap nonsense.

    Modi has taken avatar to put a full stop to the 1000 year long attacks, insults, destructions, loot, rapes, plunders, domination etc on Hindu Dharma and Hindus.

    If you dont like it convert to islam and go live in saudi arabia from you seem to have received suitcases.

  • Jose

    I believe Mr Modi made comment few years ago that Bihar with vast resources could have become a developed state unlike Gujarat. Mr. Nitish took that as a criticism and since then the distance between both of them has been increasing.

    My only request to BJP is not to become prey to dubious & opportunist politicians like Nitish. With Mr. Modi as its PM candidate, BJP alone can manage to win 220+ seats. I am sure some of the old NDA allies (BJD, TMC, AIDMK, TDP, etc)will join before or after the elections.

  • R Prasad

    I think Nitish is a politician who looks for his gains first, like Laloo. He is very much envious of Modi for sure. He tied up with BJP without which he cannot come to power in Bihar. One or more reasons below are the real reasons for his betrayal of Bihar people.

    1. If he ditches NDA at the expense of Modi, he can get more Muslim votes and can rule Bihar on his own (like Laloo”s horrible rule).
    2. He is envy of Modi who has risen despite all the hurdles.
    3. He wants to become PM.
    4. He is bribed to oppose Modi”s PM candidature.
    5. Anti-Modi group in NDA influenced him to do this.

  • sidharan

    Nitish might have been purchased by the church-saudi axis who do not want a strong Bharat under Modi. they want Bharat to be weak and keep wagging its tail before them permanently.

    and of course money is not at all aconstraint for them which may pour ointo Nitish’s swiss acoount.

  • sridharan

    if he ditches bjp nitish will be exposed before the hindus of bihar . The question will be asked whether he is for 15 % muslims or 85 % hindus. then there will be polarisation and he will bite the dust.
    whatever happened to Keshubhaiji will happen to nitish .
    the poepl should be told that he is an agent of congress and the islamic countries. already his own party leader ahs said that he has received funds form islamic countries.

  • http://www.niticentral.com/ saurabh singh

    Its really very dirty politics from jdu specialy by nitush kumar,Bihari people again insulted by other,let him do this will soon reliase what the mean of namo namah..

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000127817372 Sridharan Raghavachary

    Does Nitish Kumar wants a PM who remains mute spectator when terrorists’ bombs kill innocent citizens just because it has been planted by people of s particular religion ?This is ridiculous. Now in this election true secularism vs fake secularism or communalism will be an issue . people will make Nitish bite dust.