Bihar chief minister, Nitish Kumar is on the mission to float a new alliance. The present National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has lost its relevance for him as it ceased to serve his political and personal interests. So far the ally, the BJP, promoted and endorsed his desire, the alliance was germane.
But the political development that took place after May 30, the day Narendra Modi and team were sworn in, forced Nitish to look for alternative mechanism. Known for his management skill, once again Nitish is on the mission to forge a deal with Congress and a section of the RJD. What is really interesting is though the leaders of these two parties have pathological averseness and hatred towards Nitish, they have refused to rebuff his latest move.
If Nitish is unreliable, the BJP too has been untrustworthy. For BJP which treated him as the most sacrosanct guest ahead of the Lok Sabha election, Nitish turned pariah once BJP got absolute majority on its. Astonishingly the BJP ill treated Nitish, the peoples’ face of the NDA in Bihar, and denied him the promised share of two berths in the government while it inducted its five members from the state in the union cabinet. Heaven would not have fallen if Amit Shah had inducted conceded to Nitish’s request for two seats.
For BJP, it was the right time to make him realise his political relevance and stature. No doubt it was a deliberate move to insult him. But Nitish was not supposed to tolerate this affront and the very next day he retorted by inducting 8 JD(U) members in state cabinet. What was significant he did not induct even one BJP member in the cabinet. It was his way of tit for tat.
The war which was so far draped in mythical political decency, came out in open just after the incident. Even formal discussion and talk between him and senior BJP leader, the deputy chief minister did not take place. They did not exchange well-wishes at an Iftar party.
In fact the iftar parties held at his place and the residences of Rabari Devi, Jitan Ram Manjhi and Ram Vilas Paswan proved crucial in breaking the political jinx that existed for more than a year. Nitish attended almost all the Iftar parties, but on which shook the political realm of the state was Nitish attending the Iftar party hosted by former chief minister, Jitan Ram Manjhi, who was unceremoniously thrown out of office by Nitish in 2015. That incident had brought about a significant change in the political establishment of Bihar.
Nitish for giving a shape to his plan did not hesitate to contact the leaders of RJD, HAM of Jitan Ram Manjhi and even Congress. Till holding of the Lok Sabha elections these parties and their leaders were his sworn enemies. But their animosity did not deter Nitish from approaching them with the offer of forming a secular government.
While the political circle was busy comprehending the outcome of his moves the leaders of the mahagathbandhan extended invitation to Nitish to return to their fold to counter the BJP. Obviously responding to the opposition gesture Nitish attended the iftar event organised by Manjhi, to which the BJP was not invited.
The sources maintain that Manjhi has been the conduit between Nitish and the Congress. It was quite interesting to listen the Congress spokesperson Prem Chandra Mishra say “the Assembly polls in the state would see new political equations”
In the entire political scenario what was most intriguing was the absence of RJD heir apparent Tejashvi. He did not participate in any of the deliberations. Nevertheless senior RJD leaders confide that the RJD mellowing its stand and attitude towards Nitish owes to Lalu Yadav making a shift in his stance towards Nitish. For Lalu removing BJP is more important than ignoring Nitish. There is a feeling in the party section that affluent segment of Yadavs for getting access to power with the intention of enjoying more power may shift their allegiance to Modi. Lalu does not intend it to happen.
If the jibes and invectives being hurled against each other is any sign of deterioration of relation between Modi and Nitish then it can be safely said it has reached to the point of no return for the time being. Giriraj Singh who was elevated to the cabinet rank this time from the minister of state with independent charge in the previous one, on Tuesday tweeted four pictures from three different iftars, saying: “How beautiful the pictures could have been had falahaar (fruit feast) been organised with similar enthusiasm during Navratri. We lag behind in our own rituals and religion but are ahead in showing off.”
He even taunted Nitish Kumar for attending iftar events just “for show”. BJP chief Amit Shah nevertheless is said to have taken remark from Sing seriously and cautioned him to refrain from such nasty activities. Probably Shah still nursed the impression that Nitish will reconcile and not walk out of NDA. The BJP chief, according to the sources, also warned Giriraj that “henceforth such complaints should not come”.
The state BJP leaders desperate to salvage the situation and ensure that NDA continues to rule Bihar, have been throwing their weight behind him. Sushil Modi came on record: “Prasad during Chhath festival is distributed at the chief minister’s house every year. Nitish does falahaar too and celebrates New Year also. I am a Hindu and am proud of it, but I have been organising iftar for the last 25 years. People who are taunting iftars do not even organise Holi gatherings.”