Nitish Kumar, the rank opportunist who would do anything for power

Stabbing his political allies in the back has been a constant in the JD(U) leader’s political career

PTI Photo
PTI Photo

Zafar Agha

Nitish Kumar is a rank opportunist who loves power and knows how to stick to it. He can switch sides and adjust with rivals with such ease that even an aya Ram gaya Ram would be put to shame. He can shamelessly turn principles and ideology upside down to stick to power at any cost.

Nitish was the champion of secularism from 2013 till last evening. He was the most concerned politician trying to convince others in the secular camp to hurry up and form a united Opposition front to fight BJP.

Look what Nitish said in a gathering of Opposition leaders not too long ago: “Why will they (BJP) set the agenda? Why doesn’t Rahulji set the agenda? Right now, the need of the nation is Opposition unity.”

When it suited Nitish, he tried to build a “RSS-mukt Bharat”. But how did he change in less than 24 hours and was declaring last evening: “I am ready to tie up with anybody for good governance and justice.”

That is vintage Nitish. Speak about ‘RSS-mukt Bharat’ when in the company of secular band and then turn turtle and tout the good governance plank when cozying up to the Saffron brigade.

Being a turn coat has been Nitish’s political DNA all through. He, like Lalu Prasad Yadav, is the product of Mandal politics. Nitish is said to have played a key role in making Lalu Prasad Yadav the Bihar Chief Minister in 1990. But the ambitious Nitish soon sensed that Lalu has transformed himself into a mass leader in Bihar. There was not much scope for Nitish to climb up within Lalu’s Janata Dal.

Nitish shifted base from Patna to Delhi and jelled with others who were feeling restless with Lalu’s chaotic style of functioning. George Fernandes came handy for Nitish to conspire against Lalu within the Janata Dal. George was a veteran socialist, much senior to Lalu who was never comfortable with him. Nitish banded with George to pull the rug out from under Lalu’s feet.

A split was engineered in Janata Dal, leading to the formation of Samta Party in 1995. Nitish was the key player in this plot. Thus, he stabbed his college-day colleague Lalu with whom he had participated in the JP movement and whom he had even helped becoming the Bihar Chief Minister in 1990.

Betrayal comes natural to Nitish who can partner with anyone if it suits his political ambition. But he will dump the same person if his political utility is over. He sided with Lalu in 1990, ditched him in 1995, came back to him again in 2013 and stabbed Lalu in the back in 2017.

He did it with George Fernandes too. Once Nitish gained political standing in Bihar politics, he shifted George’s Lok Sabha seat from Muzaffapur to some other constituency. Poor George, he had to succumb to Nitish’s whim because he was now politically dependent on him.

Nitish now arrived on the Bihar political scene as George was busy in Delhi while Patna was left to Nitish who had no hesitation in junking the ‘social justice’ plank and siding with the ‘’communal’’ BJP in the 1996 Bihar Assembly elections. He continued to be a BJP ally within the NDA banner and was the Samta Party leader as well.

Samta Party was later transformed into Janata Dal (United) under Sharad Yadav’s stewardship. Even Shard was dumped last year from the JD(U) presidency after his utility for Nitish was over.

Nitish Kumar was Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s celebrated Railway Minister when Gujarat burnt under Modi’s rule in 2002. Nitish’s conscience did not have any problem even though over 2,000 people were massacred in Gujarat.

He never cared for secularism, neither when he was a Central minister in the Vajpayee government, nor when he was the Bihar Chief minister in the BJP’s company. It reflects Nitish’s character – someone who uses ideology as a slogan to climb up rather than sticking to it for the sake of protecting a principle.

Nitish’s sole principle is power. His tiff with Modi was not on the ground of principle but for power. Nitish aspired to be the Prime Minister while Modi pipped him to the post. Nitish’s grudge against Modi was that how come a Chief Minister of a tiny state like Gujarat with only 16 Lok Sabha seats gets to the PMO while Nitish, in power in a major state like Bihar with 40 Lok Sabha seats, has to wait. After all, Nitish and Modi both were claimant to the celebrated good governance slogan in the 2014 elections.

Nitish understood by 2013 that Modi was the clear winner for the prime ministerial post within the NDA camp for the 2014 elections. He could sense that there was no scope for him to shift to Delhi as the Prime Minister on the NDA platform. His ‘conscience’ now pricked and he started cozying up to Lalu who was down and out in at that time.

The two partnered and fought the 2016 Bihar Assembly elections along with the Congress and taught a lesson to Modi with the BJP suffering a humiliating defeat. But luck favoured Lalu and he ended up with more seats than Nitish. Nitish took oath as the Bihar Chief Minister but did not enjoy unbridled powers as Lalu placed his son Tejashwi as the Deputy Chief Minister.

Lalu, with numbers on his side, was doing backseat driving in the Bihar administration. It left little scope for Nitish to work and prove himself in Bihar. Nitish again attempted to change the game. He now began travelling to Delhi every now and then and made it a point to rub shoulders with secular camp leaders, emphasising the Opposition unity theme.

Nitish was basically working to project himself as the secular camp’s prime ministerial candidate for the 2019 parliamentary elections. Nitish is reported to have broached his leadership claim with Congress president Sonia Gandhi who is said to have given him a cold-shoulder.

Once Nitish found no takers for his prime ministerial claim in Delhi, he decided to stay put in Patna. He, right from the demonetisation days, began to signal to Modi that he was not averse to cross back to the NDA where he had spent 17 long years of his political life. From demonetisation days till May 2017, Nitish wooed both the secular and saffron camps, hoping to get the best of the two bargains.

But nothing seemed to be working in his favour inside secular camp. He made up his mind to go with Modi. At this point of time, suddenly alleged corrupt deals of Lalu and his family members began to surface in the media. A Modi-Nitish joint plot against Lalu was in the works as the CBI raided the former Bihar Chief Minister and his family members.

The rest is history. Nitish has once again ditched Lalu and is comfortable in Modi’s company whom he had refused to invite even to dinner not too long ago.

That is Mr Nitish Kumar for you, an ideal opportunist with no principle or ideology. He seeks an office for himself and gets it at any cost. He has succeeded once again to retain the Bihar chief ministerial chair. But Nitish no longer can aspire to be the Prime Minister of India as there is no vacancy within the NDA camp as long Modi is around while the secular camp has seen through his rank opportunism and will never oblige him. After all, Nitish has sold his soul to the saffron camp.

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Published: 27 Jul 2017, 6:20 PM