Nitish Kumar used to be comfortable after we met on the Chief Minister’s Office in Patna one wintry weather night ultimate 12 months. He spoke for an hour, reeling off figures and information about all that he is carried out to toughen building, particularly of the social sector, in Bihar. Much of it used to be about empowerment of rural ladies, who’re his maximum enthusiastic supporters. He defined the reason for his anti-liquor marketing campaign. “It’s important no longer just for saving the earning of rural families, but in addition for holding peace and solidarity in households,” he mentioned to me.
He interspersed his soliloquy with gentle lawsuits about non-cooperation and non-receipt of ok budget from the Centre. I requested him about his courting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. His lengthy silence, culminating in an impish smile, used to be eloquent. He then spoke back the query by way of talking no longer about Modi however about Atal Bihari Vajpayee, in whose executive he used to be a cupboard minister.”
“Woh zamana hello alag tha,” he mentioned. “Atal-ji jaise bade dil ke neta aaj kahaan milenge? (That generation used to be other. Where are large-hearted leaders like Atal-ji now?)”
That used to be the trace of a crack within the coalition between the BJP and Janata Dal (United) in Bihar, which he were heading since 2017. His respectful recollections about Vajpayee persevered, “Atal-ji sabko, apne virodhiyon ko bhi, saath le kar chalte the,” he mentioned. “Hamari baat na sirf sunte the, parantu un par turant karvaayi karte the (Vajpayee sought comments from all together with his combatants and spoke back to everybody).” What used to be unsaid, but loudly communicated, used to be that Modi does no longer pay attention to his allies, a lot much less to his combatants.
Then, in some other trace that he used to be searching for new chances in his lengthy political occupation, the seven-time Chief Minister casually mentioned, “Bas ho gaya. Hum lambe samay tak Bihar ke mukhya mantri rahe hain. Aur kitna karna hai? (I’ve carried out sufficient. I’ve served as Bihar’s Chief Minister for a very long time. What extra is to be carried out?”)
Nitish Kumar’s studied silence on Modi, mixed along with his commentary a couple of lengthy innings in Bihar, induced me to broach the principle topic I sought after to speak about with him. “Nitish-jithere’s an glaring contradiction between your ideology and the ideology this is riding Modi’s executive on the Centre. You are by no means relaxed running with the brand new BJP below Modi and Amit Shah. Isn’t it time so that you can transfer to the nationwide level? Non-BJP events lack a pacesetter from the Hindi belt who could be a rallying power for Opposition cohesion. You are highest suited for play that position.”
Again, a protracted silence adopted. He then known as one among his depended on ministers, and advised him, “Aap inke sampark mein rahiye. Ye kuch soch rahe hain (Be in touch with him. He has some ideas)”. He then mentioned to me, “Before you permit Patna, you will have to seek advice from two puts – the Buddha Park, which we have now created after demolishing the central prison within the center of town, and Bihar Museum. My minister will make the entire preparations for you.”
I did seek advice from the 2 puts subsequent morning. What I noticed wowed me. Both are Nitish Kumar’s puppy initiatives, and they’re world-class. “This in reality is the easiest way to exhibit Bihar to the remainder of India and the sector,” I mentioned to myself.
Now, Bihar is presenting itself to the remainder of India in otherwise. Nitish Kumar has after all damaged his uneasy alliance with the BJP, and joined palms along with his arch competitors, Lalu Prasad Yadav’s RJD and the Congress, in a brand new Mahagathbandhan. He will proceed to be the Chief Minister, however make no mistake – this dramatic political rejig isn’t about Bihar 2022, it is about India 2024.
Bihar gave a brand new flip to Indian politics in early Seventies, when Jayaprakash Narayan introduced a mighty fight in opposition to the autocratic rule of Indira Gandhi. As a tender scholar chief, Nitish Kumar joined the JP Movement and spent 19 months in prison right through the Emergency (1975-77). Now, he has raised a conflict cry in opposition to some other autocratic rule. Different instances, other instances. But there’s one commonplace thread. At a time when democracy and different liked values of the Constitution are below a significant danger – the danger is bigger now than right through the Emergency as a result of the extra risk of communal polarization – Bihar seems to be offering much-needed hope.
Why will the brand new Mahagathbandhan in Bihar most probably reshape nationwide politics forward of the a very powerful parliamentary elections in 2024? Four causes:
1. The RJD-JD(U)-Congress is a powerful alliance in Bihar, which sends 40 MPs to the Lok Sabha. In 2019, the BJP-JD(U) mix swept the polls successful 39 seats, with the BJP bagging 17 seats, JD(U) 16 and Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP 6. The closing one seat went to the Congress. The ‘Modi Wave’ in 2019, which introduced the BJP again to energy on the Centre with a report 303 seats, used to be basically as a result of the phobia assault in Pulwama and India’s next punitive motion at Balakot in Pakistan. This time round, with serious and rising financial misery in India, the Modi-led BJP can repeat its 2019 efficiency provided that there’s some other Pulwama-like incident that the BJP can use to whip up nationalist sentiment in its favour. Mere Hindu-Muslim polarization led to by way of home elements, within the absence of a Pakistan attitude, can not assist the BJP a lot. In any case, anti-Muslim politics can not consolidate the Hindu votebank in Bihar because it does in UP.
2. In Bihar itself the BJP can be a loner sans an alliance with any primary regional birthday party. Ram Vilas Paswan is not more, and the BJP has antagonized his son Chirag Paswan by way of breaking the LJP. In distinction, the brand new RJD-JD(U)-Congress alliance has the advantage of make stronger from Left events, which, regardless that small, can swing the end result in opposition to the BJP in lots of constituencies.
3. India is recently witnessing a resurgence of backward caste politics. This phenomenon helped Modi considerably when he projected himself as an OBC chief. The similar merit accrues to Nitish Kumar too, particularly in North Indian states.
4. Most importantly, Bihar is the primary extensive state the place the BJP has misplaced energy. This will infuse new hope amongst Opposition events on the nationwide degree, who’ve to this point remained disunited and dispirited. The power query within the minds of Indian electorate searching for an alternative choice to Modi has been: “Who is there to unite and lead the Opposition?” Neither the Congress nor some other birthday party has a solution. Now, a most probably solution has emerged from the political tremor in Bihar. Clearly, Nitish Kumar is the person to look at as a National Mahagathbandhan takes form within the run-up to 2024.
(The creator used to be an aide to India’s former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.)
Disclaimer: These are the private critiques of the creator.