Options are running out very fast for embattled Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar. With the BJP, his ally, facing pressures from within to declare its own chief ministerial candidate for the 2020 assembly polls in the state and the main opposition RJD slamming doors on him, Kumar finds himself getting caught in a peculiar situation. The only party that looks interested to ally with him is the Congress which is virtually devoid of any support base in the state and has survived on the vote-bank of RJD headed by jailed politician Lalu Prasad in the past two decades.
Kumar, whose three-party Grand Alliance was handed out a huge mandate by the voters in the last 2015 assembly polls, suddenly walked out of the ruling alliance two years later to form his new government with the BJP which had got the mandate to sit in the opposition. However, trouble started for him moments after he had joined the NDA with the big announcement to bring Bihar on the path to progress and prosperity.
Kumar faced the first major embarrassments when his demands for granting special category status to Bihar and central status to the Patna University were rejected outright. The biggest loss of face came when his party, the JD-U, was not only denied representation in the Modi government during its cabinet expansion in September 2017—a little over a month after Kumar had returned to the BJP camp—but was also not extended invitation to attend the swearing-in ceremony held at Rashtrapati Bhawan.
Another setback came to the chief minister when his party was not given adequate representation in the Modi cabinet 2.0, prompting him to announce that his party would not join the government in future too. The last hope of the JD-U apparently was that there would be no problem for the BJP in declaring Kumar as the NDA’s chief ministerial face for the next year’s assembly polls but the ongoing developments indicate this may also not be possible.
Much to the discomfiture of Kumar, demands are slowly growing within the BJP to declare its own CM candidate instead of being a pillion-rider all the time. It all started after a section of the BJP leaders sought for projecting Union minister Giriraj Singh as the CM candidate and took a new twist when former union minister Sanjay Paswan suggested the chief minister to vacate his throne and shift to national politics. Curiously, the central BJP leadership is yet to issue any clarification in this regard despite repeated demand from the top JD-U leaders.
In a further setback to the chief minister, the main opposition RJD has categorically announced not to enter into any alliance with the JD-U in future. “All talks about alliance parleys between RJD and JD-U are rubbish. There is no question of entering into an alliance with the man who quit the Grand Alliance midway,” senior RJD leader and Bihar opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav declared on Saturday, adding the chief minister has no ideology. “The only ideology of Nitish Kumar is how to save his throne,” he asserted, adding, “The RJD can’t compromise with its ideology till its last breath”.