This Is Why Nitish Kumar Could Be Staring At A Sad End To His Political Career
Kumar faces the dark prospect of being cast in the political wilderness very soon. Here's why.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar may well find himself in political wilderness at the twilight of his political career very soon.
Kumar is facing growing pressure from the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) to step down in favour of his deputy, Tejaswi Yadav.
And there is no chance of his name being projected as a prime ministerial candidate by Bihar's ruling mahagathbandhan (grand alliance) as he had been expecting.
Not only are the doors of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) permanently closed to the ambitious Kumar, but also he is going to face an increasingly aggressive BJP that seems determined to thwart all his political ambitions and hasten his transition to sanyas.
Last weekend's developments would have driven these stark truths home to Kumar.
The unity rally by the seven constituents of the mahagathbandhan at Purnea on Saturday (25 February) was supposed to be a show of solidarity by the partners of the ruling alliance.
The allies had chosen the Rangbhoomi Maidan for the rally because it was from there that Union Home Minister Amit Shah launched the 2024 Lok Sabha campaign for Bihar on 23 September last year.
At the September rally, Shah had called on the people of Bihar to reject the mahagathbandhan and Nitish Kumar, and vote for the BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
The mahagathbandhan rally was meant to counter Shah's call, and not only showcase opposition unity but also launch the opposition's 2024 campaign.
But the rally turned ugly with RJD supporters raising slogans in favour of Lalu Yadav and his heir apparent Tejaswi, and calling for Kumar's resignation.
As the slogans got louder, Kumar lost his cool and rebuked the young men raising the slogans. He trumpeted his achievements and told the sloganeers that they were in a minority.
But what is significant is that RJD leaders, including Tejaswi Yadav who was present on the dais, did not seem fit to silence the sloganeers. They were, instead, seen smiling.
As if that was not enough, no announcement was made about Kumar's future at the national level. It was widely expected that the RJD would propose Kumar's name as a convenor of opposition parties.
That in itself would have been a significant departure from earlier expectations that Kumar would be projected by the RJD as a prime ministerial candidate for the joint opposition after he stepped down from the Chief Minister's post to make way for Tejaswi Yadav.
A senior RJD leader who is close to Lalu Yadav told Swarajya that his party leadership had made it clear to Kumar that the earlier plans to project him as the opposition's PM candidate would have to be dropped.
That's because such an announcement would have angered the Congress which is an important constituent of the mahagathbandhan.
Also, the RJD believes that opposition unity is not viable by leaving out the Congress.
In fact, the RJD has embraced the position that the Congress has to lead opposition unity efforts and the Congress has to provide leadership to the opposition to the BJP.
The RJD's latest stand pours cold water on Kumar's prime ministerial ambitions.
What would also have been very disappointing for Kumar was the RJD's failure to announce his name as the convenor of a platform for opposition parties.
Such a platform is a work in progress, and Kumar as its convenor would have his hands full after stepping down from the Chief Minister's post.
The post of convenor, though a consolation prize, would also have given Kumar the pan-India profile and recognition he has been hoping for.
Not only did Kumar not get what he was hoping for at last weekend's rally, he was instead subjected to the ignominy of slogan shouting RJD workers demanding his resignation.
That's why a frustrated Kumar lost his cool and rebuked the RJD workers. But that did not silence the RJD workers — some of them started taunting Nitish as 'paltu ram', the name given to him for his frequent political somersaults.
The shift in RJD's stance on opposition unity has also forced Kumar to embrace the same stand. That's why he has, of late, been rubbishing talk of him being projected as the PM candidate.
But, here too, his frustration has come through. Speaking at the mahagathbandhan rally, Kumar said the Congress should take a call on leading the Opposition very soon. Any delay on the part of the Congress would only benefit the BJP, he warned.
The wily Kumar was hoping to push the Congress into a corner.
If the Congress announces it will take the lead in forging opposition unity, it will have to officially project Rahul Gandhi as its prime ministerial candidate. And Kumar knows very well that Rahul Gandhi will be unacceptable to many Opposition parties.
But the Congress shows no sign of taking the bait.
Senior Congress leaders have already announced that the party will take a call on leading opposition unity efforts at the right time. And here, too, Kumar finds himself at a loss.
The BJP knows only too well the dark days that face Kumar.
The BJP knows that Kumar is frustrated and is already regretting his decision to break ties with the saffron party last August and return to the mahagathbandhan.
But it wants Kumar to face the consequences of his over-ambition and political adventurism.
That is why Amit Shah, speaking at a massive rally at Lauria in Valmikinagar Lok Sabha constituency in West Champaran district on Saturday (25 February), said that the doors of the BJP are firmly and permanently closed to Kumar.
Shah slammed Kumar for his frequent U-turns and termed the alliance between the RJD and the JD(U) as an unholy one. He likened it to a mixture of oil and water.
Shah said that Kumar had turned an 'avsarwaadi' (opportunist) from the 'vikaswaadi' (pro-development) that he was when he was in alliance with the BJP.
The Union Home Minister also made it clear that the BJP will form the next government in Bihar on its own after winning a majority in the 2025 assembly polls.
Kumar, thus, faces the dark prospect of being cast in the political wilderness very soon.
He will have to step down from the Chief Minister's post very soon as per his agreement with the RJD.
And he will also have no defined role on the national political stage after that as he had been hoping for.
That will mark a sad end to Kumar's political career.
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