Nitish Kumar is looking for his phoenix moment in 2024

hE was once called ‘Paltu Kumar’ by RJD. In 2017, Lalu Prasad Yadav had said that his teeth are in his stomach. Both the statements underscore the basic political behavior of Bihar Chief Minister and JD(U) President Nitish Kumar. When he took oath as CM for the eighth time on Thursday, he lived up to his ‘summer virtue’ of the past. his return to the family is a slap on the face of BJP And a blueprint for India, says RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav.

But the latest split with the BJP, which has been an ally for more than 25 years, brings a bigger message than any other message from the Bihar chief minister in the past decade. Within a few hours, he expelled the entire BJP from the government in Bihar. It almost seems like an open challenge to Narendra Modi and his prospects in 2024, a bugle declaring that Nitish is the only stable man in Bihar who is not taken out of the calculations while dreaming of returning to the PM’s office. can be done. And that is why Nitish Kumar is ThePrint’s News Producer of the Week.

why nitish

Nitish Kumar is no Deve Gowda, or Inder Kumar Gujral or even Chandrashekhar, who enjoyed power despite having fewer seats in the Lok Sabha. But for almost 17 years, he has achieved something similar in Bihar. The parties with more seats than JD(U) have no option but to support Nitish. That is the strength of this clever politician. And it is the image of Sushan Babu that makes his colleagues and opponents realize his worth in the political market of Bihar. Now, in the absence of a viable alternative to Modi, his worth may be realized at the national level.

His strong credit for tackling corruption and his grip on Bihar’s 16 per cent vote share, which also includes the Extremely Backward Classes (EBC), is unique to sportspersons from the state and beyond.


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national ambition

JD(U) parliamentary board member Upendra Kushwaha says Nitish has all the qualities he needs to become the PM. And it’s a mold that interests even the opposition. The track record of good governance, secular credentials and clean image helps in his case. And he is a Hindi-speaking politician from North India, unlike TRS’s Chandrashekhar Rao or even Mamata Banerjee, who also have national ambitions.

But KCR has only 17 seats. NCP’s Sharad Pawar is very old. And Congress is double minded to lead the opposition’s fight against Modi. In the opposition camp, Kejriwal is keeping a safe distance from Mamta and others. Delhi CM’s silence on Nitish is also defining his politics.

So, Nitish can be that unifying force.


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BJP and error in judgment

Those who know Nitish closely may find the JD(U) leader an introvert. He never speaks his mind, and begins to back down if he is pushed beyond a limit.

In February 2020, Nitish was in Delhi to attend the wedding of his old friend Arun Jaitley’s son Rohan Jaitley. When a group of businessmen and Bollywood celebrities reached there, Nitish was in a hurry to leave. If he does not find the company suitable he withdraws immediately.

Many BJP leaders are accusing the Bihar CM of having ambitions for the post of Vice President. Now he could hold a press conference and clear the air. But he didn’t. He is Nitish Kumar to his opponents. He will keep them guessing.

Several reasons are being cited for Nitish’s exit – from the recent Morcha meeting of the BJP in Patna, where the party announced it would fight alone in over 200 seats in the next assembly elections, to JP Nadda’s anti-regional party remarks.

BJP was caught taking a nap. He never imagined that Nitish would follow the path of RJD- a party unable to give up its corrupt, dynastic tag and which could come under the scrutiny of central agencies.


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Kumar’s changing color

Nitish spent his early days with Lalu, helping him become chief minister in 1990. But as soon as he realized Lalu’s immense influence in the Janata Dal, he parted ways with George Fernandes to form the Samta Party. The Samata Party did not fly smoothly and Nitish got only seven seats in the 1995 election. Later, when he felt that an alliance with the BJP would give him an advantage against Lalu, in 1996, he joined the alliance with them, becoming a cabinet minister under Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Nitish’s colleague and biographer Arun Sinha writes in his book Nitish Kumar and the rise of Bihar That “indeed, he was with Lalu, who took on Karpoori Thakur in an internal-party fight in 1987, even though Nitish Kumar had a perfect relationship with Thakur. Nitish had made a distinction about the classification of the 22 most backward castes.” Thought because Mahadalits came from Karpoori Thakur only.

George Fernandes became the third victim of Nitish’s change of heart after Karpoori Thakur and Lalu. In 2009, he denied the veteran leader a Lok Sabha ticket from Muzaffarpur on the grounds that he was ill.

Nitish again changed his heart in 2010 when Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi was visiting Patna and the BJP published an advertisement in local newspapers showing Nitish and Modi in the same frame. Protective about his secular credentials, Nitish led the first split from the BJP in 2013.

There was again a change of heart in 2013 when he paved the way for Jitan Ram Manjhi to be made the Chief Minister. But this did not last long and Nitish returned as chief minister in early 2015.


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Will It Work This Time?

Former Deputy Chief Minister Says: “Even the RJD will not trust Nitish knowing his past track record, another Nitish with 17-20 Lok Sabha seats cannot challenge Modi.”

However, Bengal, Maharashtra, Bihar can spoil the chances of BJP’s big mandate.

Modi, who has known Nitish since 1977 and has worked closely with him, says he too failed to understand Nitish’s mind.

Arun Sinha writes in the biography of the JD(U) leader that the root of anti-Congress politics in the party lies in the denial of an assembly seat to his (Nitish’s) father Ramlahan Singh in the 1950s. During his college days at Patna University, Nitish witnessed the agony and humiliation of his father which forced him to join politics. And his association with the anti-Congress forces started increasing.

Nitish’s entire politics was against the Congress – be it college days or Emergency. But it is the Congress that came last week to support Nitish.

Thoughts are personal.

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