Decoding The Reasons Behind Bihar CM Nitish Kumar's Outburst In State Assembly

Decoding The Reasons Behind Bihar CM Nitish Kumar's Outburst In State Assembly

by Jaideep Mazumdar - Dec 15, 2022 03:29 PM +05:30 IST
Decoding The Reasons Behind Bihar CM Nitish Kumar's Outburst In State AssemblyBihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in state assembly.
  • A cornered Nitish Kumar, under severe attack from his former allies, lost his cool and flew into a rage.

    Not just the attack on his prohibition policy, the Bihar Chief Minister seems to have realised that he actually cut a very bad 'deal' with the RJD.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar flew into uncontrollable rage inside the state Assembly on Wednesday (14 December) when Opposition BJP legislators cornered him over his failed prohibition (liquor ban) policy.

The Assembly witnessed a slugfest Wednesday (14 December) over the deaths of 24 persons who consumed hoonch (illicitly brewed country liquor) in the state's Saran district. 

Ever since the brewing, sale and consumption of alcohol was banned in Bihar in April 2016, hundreds have died in a series of Saran-loke tragedies. 

Like in the rest of the world, prohibition has also been an utter failure in Bihar. Bootlegging has become a highly profitable industry and his spawned a parallel black economy. 

The liquor ban in Bihar has also spurred corruption with police and officials being hand-in-glove with liquor smugglers (bootleggers) who smuggle in liquor in large quantities from the neighbouring states of Bengal, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh. 

Wednesday (14 December) saw BJP legislators raising the issue inside the state Assembly. BJP MLAs contended that prohibition has been an utter failure and demanded it's roll back. They also demanded compensation to the families of those who died in the hoonch tragedy.

The BJP legislators also alleged a nexus between corrupt police officials and liquor smugglers as well as those who brew liquor illicitly.

A cornered Nitish Kumar, under severe attack from his former allies, lost his cool and flew into a rage. Getting up from his seat, Kumar gesticulated angrily and in a highly intimidating manner at the Opposition benches. 

He shouted at them: "Sharab bandi ke paksh mein aap sab they ya nahin? Ab kya ho gaya? Sharabi ho gaye tum log. Ab tolerate nahin kiya jayega". (Were you all not in favour of prohibition earlier? What happened now? You have all become alcoholics? I will not tolerate this anymore). 

The Chief Minister's outburst expectedly drew condemnation from the Opposition.

BJP Rajya Sabha MP Sushil Modi, who had been a long time associate of Kumar and served as the deputy chief minister when Kumar was part of the NDA, said that the Chief Minister "has lost it". 

"His (Kumar's) time is over. He has lost his faculties. He addresses Opposition MLAs angrily as 'tu' and 'tum' and threatens them on the floor of the Assembly. We have seen such terrible behaviour from him in the recent past as well. He loses his temper very often nowadays," said Modi. 

Other BJP leaders were also scathing in their criticism of Kumar. "His behaviour inside the Assembly was not only highly unparliamentary, but also ugly and unbecoming of a Chief Minister who has been in power for so long," senior BJP leader Sanjay Jaiswal told Swarajya

What Wednesday's Outburst Says About Kumar:

It is not just the attack on his prohibition policy that angered Nitish Kumar and triggered his outburst. 

The BJP MLAs' demand for a review of the failed liquor policy got his goat because many of his party colleagues as well as the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), which is the senior partner in the ruling alliance, have been asking for a rollback of the policy. 

Of late, a few Janata Dal (United) ( JDU) leaders have openly stated that the liquor ban policy has been a failure and needs a review.

The RJD is not in favour of prohibition and Kumar knows that once he steps down from the CM's post and passes the baton on to his deputy Tejaswi Yadav, prohibition will be junked. 

Prohibition is also being blamed for the JD(U)'s defeat in the Kurhani bypolls recently. Many Dalits who brew liquor traditionally and have not only faced loss of livelihood due to the ban, but also been arrested and prosecuted (for brewing liquor illegally) have turned away from the JD(U) and voted for the BJP in the by-election. 

But even all that does not account wholly for Kumar's outburst. There are graver reasons for the way he lost his cool, say political analysts.

"Nitish Kumar is a highly frustrated man. He is feeling cornered. He knows that the liquor ban policy, which he holds close to his heart, will be junked once he steps down from the CM's post, which he has to next year. His frustration also arises from the fact that he has only a short time left in office as CM. Nitish Kumar has always been power-hungry and he is hating the prospect of losing power," said Nishant Jha, a teacher of political science in Patna University.

The recent elections in Gujarat where BJP made a clean sweep has also served as a rude reminder to Kumar that the saffron party is quite unassailable and Narendra Modi continues to remain highly popular, said Jha. 

"That means that Kumar's grand project of forging Opposition unity and cobbling together an anti-BJP front which could propel his ambition of becoming the Prime Minister becomes quite distant. That is very frustrating for him. And his rage stems from his frustration," Jha explained.

Former JD(U) leader Sharan Kumar said that after having served as Chief Minister almost uninterruptedly for 17 years, Kumar's overwhelming ambition is to become the Prime Minister.

"He would have liked to become the PM and head of an NDA government at the centre. That's why he had opposed the projection of Narendra Modi as the NDA's PM candidate in 2013 and snapped ties with the BJP at that time. He knew that with Modi as the NDA's PM nominee, he would never be able to realise his dream of becoming the PM," said Sharan Kumar. 

Nitish Kumar snapped ties with the BJP in August this year after he suspected the BJP of trying to relegate the JD(U) to the sidelines. "He is very angry with the BJP and he blames Prime Minister Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah for pushing the JD(U) into a corner in Bihar," said Kumar.

Nitish Kumar has been alleging that the BJP conspired to ensure the defeat of many JD(U) candidates in the 2020 Assembly polls. Kumar has been telling his confidants that pushed to a corner, he had no option but to return to the RJD-led mahagathbandhan (grand alliance). 

"Nitish Kumar would not have, ideally, liked to join hands with the RJD once again. He had been a strong critic of the RJD and the 'jungle raaj' that characterised the RJD's many years in power. He blames the BJP for pushing him into the RJD's arms and is very bitter about it," said political analyst Basant Yadav.

And after having returned to the mahagathbandhan, realisation has dawned on Kumar that he actually cut a very bad 'deal' with Lalu Yadav's party. 

The 'deal' involves Kumar stepping down as Chief Minister by the end of 2023 (that deadline has reportedly been brought forward now) in return for the RJD's support of his bid to become the Prime Minister as leader of an anti-BJP front. 

But Kumar now realises that the 'deal' will cast him into political oblivion very soon. He will lose his coveted Chief Minister's post and his dream of ascending to the Prime Minister's post has faded very far away.

Of late, Kumar has realised that an anti-BJP front will remain a chimera, and he will never become the Prime Minister.

That is why he lost his cool and shouted at the BJP MLAs. 

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