What is Nitish Kumar’s biggest strength?
Is it his mesmerizing oratory?
No. Certainly not. His metaphors are generally not well framed, he doesn’t quote any anecdotes, and His voice is barely audible. He is anything but a good orator.
Is it his unwavering voter base?
What, no. Big no. , He does not enjoy the support of any numerically and socially strong community in Bihar. The Yadavas have sworn their allegiance to Lalu Prasad Yadav and so have the Muslims. Upper caste Hindus form BJP’s support base, Although he does have some appeal amongst the Dalits and other backward classes but then Lalu, Paswan and Kushwaha all contest for the same vote chunk. With leaders like Chhedi Paswan joining BJP, even BJP becomes a strong contender for the Dalit vote base. Nitish Kumar doesn’t even command a hundred percent faith and loyalty of his own Kurmi community which, anyway, is just a little over three percent of the population of Bihar.
Do his social engineering skills make him a great politician of modern-day India?
No He is a failure on that front too. He carved out a distinct category of castes known as ‘Mahadalit’. His social engineering formula can be represented as < 19 Dalit castes > minus <Paswans> equals <Mahadalits>. He deliberately left out Paswans to send a message across that he hates Ram Vilas Paswan and hence all the Paswans.
Oh well, is it his image of a progressive man then, that works in his favor?
A no again. Had it been the case, he wouldn’t have been decimated in the last Loksabha Elections. He scored a meagre 2. It was the lack of political acumen, hunger and motive in the Bihar BJP leaders that made Nitish Kumar symbolic to progress in his first term. A lot of work done during his first term as CM of Bihar can be accredited to the BJP ministers and policymakers. They didn’t and Nitish did. Also, Bihar was the breeding ground of serfdom, casteism, criminality, rampant corruption, political decadence when Nitish assumed power. It was tantamount to misgovernment, institutional breakdown, and general lack of hope. Any small step was bound to look like a giant leap. That’s what Nitish Kumar capitalized upon.
Okay? So a strict disciplinarian? That’s what makes him great? Right?
Calling him a despot wouldn’t be unfair. He is somebody who would go to any extent to soothe his ego or settle his scores. He doesn’t lead people by example, he makes them fall in line. Anyone who grows a tongue of his own is silently shown the exit doors. Some retire without a sound while others make noise, Jitan Ram Manjhi would be one of the latter kinds.
This is strange? In spite of having no leader like qualities why is he one of the most followed politicians of this time and probably the strongest contender for the post of Bihar CM?
The answer lies in his opportunism. Nitish Kumar can give all political freebooters a run for their money. When Nitish Kumar was shown the doors by Lalu in early Nineties and when his own political party Samata Party couldn’t achieve much, he quietly joined the NDA. When the Godhra Train Massacre and the Gujarat riots took place, the oh-so-moral Nitish Kumar didn’t take a stand. He didn’t join any of the BJP inner circles and tried striking a chord with all of them. After the Gujarat riots, Mr. Nitish Kumar the custodian of all minority rights in India, went ahead with his exaltation of Narendra Modi. When Bihar started appearing on positive news feeds, he hogged all the credits and limelight. When Narendra Modi was projected by the Modi faction as the prospective PM candidate, Nitish Kumar changed his colors all of a sudden. He discarded Modi as a spring fruit and he was convinced that it was Advani who was ultimately going to be the PM candidate. He was also sure, that the electorates will give a fractured mandate in the 2014 General elections which will make allies more crucial than ever. A clean man, a man of few words and a leader who scrubbed the filthiest state of India clean, could have been the binding force for all NDA allies. But alas, things didn’t go as expected. Modi came, Modi saw and Modi conquered.
The Janata Parivaar is not Mulayam’s brainchild. He is happily in power in his state and has the undying support of Muslims and Yadavs there. Lalu enjoys the support of the same voter base in Bihar and in a three corner fight, it is he who can challenge BJP while Nitish Kumar will be a very distant third. Om Prakash Chautala is just there for the numbers and Devegowda is a political nobody now. It is Nitish and Nitish alone who is all set to benefit for this alliance. Since Lalu can’t be the CM because of legal obligations, barely literate Rabri Devi as CM candidate will invite the wrath of the voters, Misa Bharti is new and Lalu’s sons are nonentities so that leaves the alliance with just one CM candidate, great Mr. Sushashan Babu. And that’s why it is Nitish Kumar who is most desperate for this alliance. The great opportunist of Indian polity is desperate to seize the moment again. But looks like his partners-to-be have sniffed the evil cooking inside his head.
Image Sources: Deccan Chronicle