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Of fair-weather friends & foes: Nitish Kumar is so right and yet so wrong

Charu Kartikeya | Updated on: 1 August 2017, 18:43 IST
(Arya Sharma/Catch News)

If you recall the developments when Nitish Kumar exhibited first signs of support for the Narendra Modi government you will realise he is partly right. There was indeed a time when he was trying to propel the entire Opposition towards a grand multi-state alliance against the BJP, but he didn't get the support from other parties. However, there is one thing that he is wrong about. Nitish is being entirely dishonest in blaming RJD chief Lalu Yadav's corruption for his switch back to NDA.

In his first media interaction after taking oath as chief minister of an NDA government in Bihar, Nitish sought to justify deserting the Grand Alliance saying “there was no way” he would have “compromised with corruption”.

“That would have meant losing my identity,” he added.

Didn't Nitish compromise with corruption earlier when he stitched his alliance with RJD, given that Yadav had already been convicted in the fodder scam by that time?

Did he suddenly rediscover corruption in RJD?

Lalu can well argue that this association, in fact, saved Nitish's identity in 2015. The BJP's onslaught in 2014 had already reduced Nitish's JD(U) to a mere two Lok Sabha seats in Bihar, from the 20 it had held in 2009.

If JD(U) hadn't forged an alliance with Congress and RJD, it was quite likely to have suffered a rout in the Assembly polls as well.

On identity: Communal or corrupt?

So, Nitish's assertion about Lalu's corruption suddenly threatening his identity is bunkum. Speaking of identity, what does he think his renewed alliance with an aggressive BJP will do to his identity?

Does any NDA ally have an identity of its own in these times?

Today's BJP takes all decisions for the NDA and other allies just fall in line. Even the names of NDA's candidates for Presidential and Vice Presidential polls were announced by the BJP chief alone at BJP offices.

The BJP wants to come to power on its own in states across the country and it has a fighting chance of making it in Bihar the next time. Where will that leave Nitish?

The identity that is relevant in these times is of a party's credentials as secular or communal. Nitish has been asserting emphatically that he chose to fight against corruption over secularism because the latter “should not be used as a cover for acquiring illegal assets”.

What makes him so sure that he has chosen a side that is not seeped in both?

His new deputy, BJP's Sushil Modi, is also facing allegations of acquiring benami assets but no central agency has raided him, unlike Lalu. The assets of the national president of his party, Amit Shah, have gone up by 300% in five years, but no questions are being asked.

The BJP itself stands accused of buying multiple plots of land across the country just before demonetisation but that allegation is not even being probed.

There are so many allegations that put the BJP in the dock as far as corruption is concerned and Nitish's “inner-conscience” has never heard of them?

Opposition indeed has no agenda

Nitish is right when he says that the “Opposition has no idea, only a reactive agenda”.

He indeed tried to replicate the Grand Alliance in Assam and Uttar Pradesh but it did not materialise and the BJP eventually won in both states. So the blame for gifting at least two states to the BJP will have to be accepted by the Congress, the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party.

Congress will have to accept a larger share of this blame because even after having been cut to size by the BJP, it is still the largest party in the Opposition, nation-wide.

However, Nitish is trying to be too clever by half by using the inefficiency of Congress as an excuse for allying with the BJP. Nitish was being projected as a national Opposition leader and given that Lok Sabha polls are still two years away, there is no point in throwing the towel in just now.

He is again not being entirely honest by saying that he always believed he led a small party and could not have “big national aspirations”. If he didn't have national aspirations, why did he set up JD(U) units in 20 states, tour state after state campaigning for prohibition and give out the “Sangh-mukt Bharat” slogan?

Eagerness to join BJP

Nitish will not admit this but the fact is that he was simply too eager to go back to the NDA and join Modi. Look at the way he is trying to create an aura around the PM by saying that he faces “no challenger” in the 2019 Lok Sabha. NDA has nearly four dozen constituents and none of them have been heard saying something like this so far. Even the famed political weather-scientist Ram Vilas Paswan has not spoken about 2019 so far.

That is simply because 2019 is two years away and that is a long time in politics.

Who knows what turn it may take in this period? What is the need then for Nitish to suddenly start eulogising Modi as if he was not an ally but a spokesperson of the BJP?

First published: 1 August 2017, 18:43 IST
Charu Kartikeya @CharuKeya

Assistant Editor at Catch, Charu enjoys covering politics and uncovering politicians. Of nine years in journalism, he spent six happily covering Parliament and parliamentarians at Lok Sabha TV and the other three as news anchor at Doordarshan News. A Royal Enfield enthusiast, he dreams of having enough time to roar away towards Ladakh, but for the moment the only miles he's covering are the 20-km stretch between home and work.