Some two years after he dumped the Grand Alliance to return in the company of BJP, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar finds himself “trapped”, completely.
The politician who was once known as Bihar’s own “Chanakya” and who loved to flaunt his secular image in public is being forced to toe the BJP line, it has emerged after series of recent political developments.
Never in the past, Kumar who heads the ruling Janata Dal United (JD-U) looked so “helpless and hopeless”. Strangely, there looks no political alternative before him right at this moment as he himself has shut all the exit doors one by one.
The prevailing situation is underlined from the fact the JD-U is yet to come out with its own poll manifesto even though the four of the total seven phases of polling have already been completed.
The JD-U despite being part of the NDA has been known for putting its views independently in public. It has taken a different stand on Ram Temple, Uniform Civil Code, Art 370 that gives special privilege to Jammu and Kashmir, triple talaq and Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.
But very strangely, the JDU has not released its poll manifesto to let the voters known about the issues over which the party is seeking votes.
“The JD-U’s existence is in danger now as the party is yet to release its poll manifesto even after four rounds of polling. The party leadership doesn’t have the guts to make its view known as it thinks articulation of its view could annoy its ally (BJP) which is frequently raising controversial issues in the elections,” former deputy chief minister and RJD lawmaker Tejashwi Yadav says. Tejashwi who is considered the political heir of RJD chief Lalu Prasad said the JDU had announced to release its manifesto on 14 April but since then it has kept on tactfully delaying its release indicating its “surrender” before the BJP~ a move which has been rejected by the JD-U.
“The RJD is trying to make an issue out of a non-issue,” said JD-U spokesperson Ajay Alok. Kumar again looked hugely uncomfortable when Prime Minister Narendra Modi during an election rally in Darbhanga began furiously shouting “Vande Mataram” thumping fists in the air and everyone sitting on the dais began repeating the same in chorus. He remained silent and felt awkward as the chanting sound picked up speed. Then a moment came when everyone stood from their seat to add power to Modi’s slogan.
Initially, the chief minister refused to ignore but ultimately had to stand up from his seat too as everyone had stood by then. However, he didn’t chant Vande Mataram.
What has surprised everyone the most the chief minister has been caught speaking in the language of the BJP and the Prime Minister at the NDA rallies. In the past, the chief minister was seen seeking votes in the name of development works carried out by his own government in Bihar or his personal image that was his USP but for the first time, Kumar has been endorsing just every initiative of the Prime Minister and is repeatedly seen branding the Modi image.
Earlier the chief minister had even refrained from mentioning his name in his speech but this time he repeatedly citing his name.
What is further curious, he is hardly seen highlighting the achievements of his own government or the governance model which he claims to have put Bihar’s growth rate above 10 per cent. Instead, he has been heaping praises on Modi especially the way the PM allowed the Indian Air Force to carry out airstrikes against the terror camps deep inside Pakistan in retaliation to Pulwama terror attacks in Kashmir. “The way PM Modi has acted against the terrorism has boosted the morale of the countrymen. India’s prestige has gone up under his leadership,” Kumar repeats this at his every rally in Bihar.
The chief minister is also repeatedly telling the masses about how the Modi government’s initiatives such as National Health Protection Scheme or ModiCare, giving LPG connections to the poor and his initiative for giving Rs 6,000 per year as minimum income support to small and marginal farmers have brought miraculous changes in the life of the masses.
Today he added another line to his speech describing UN listing of Jaish-e-Mohammed leader Masood Azhar as a global terrorist as India’s strategic victory.
“It is a pity to see Nitish Kumar promoting Modi. He never looked so weak and helpless,” commented political expert DM Diwakar. The problem with Kumar is that he has blocked his way to the RJD and the Congress by routinely targeting Rahul Gandhi and Lalu Prasad.