This article was published on Aug 21, 2016
Just a month after Lalu-Nitish led Secular front crushed NDA in Bihar, I had the opportunity of conversing about the Bihar Assembly Election results with a self-proclaimed Bihar Politics nerd. The man nonchalantly called it a convenient alliance, well he quoted the obvious hence I gave him no reactions. He, then, prophesied almost like a psychic, that Nitish Kumar will be asked to leave the CM Chair in less than 3 years.
He stated that Lalu wants Nitish Kumar to leave Bihar for his sons Tejashwi and Tej Pratap and pursue national politics. Lalu reassured Nitish Kumar of absolute support in 2019 General Elections, provided he leaves Bihar for his sons. I found it hard to believe, because Lalu had made it clear that Nitish Kumar will be the Chief Minister regardless of the results. He repeated the same even after getting an edge over JDU in the assembly elections.
Today I read this interesting piece in The Sunday-Guardian where Bhagalpur MP Shailesh Kumar alias Bulo Mandal of the RJD “suggested” that Tejashwi Yadav, Lalu’s younger son and Bihar Deputy CM be made the CM of Bihar by next year. This statement is significant because of three reasons. Firstly, Bulo Mandal is a close confidante of the Yadav family. Secondly, this is the second time in a week that Mandal made the same recommendation. And thirdly this can be a part of a strategy to gauge the public mood as Party Supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav convenes a meeting of existing and former party MPs and MLAs in Patna on 30 August.
Currently this is how the Bihar assembly looks like:
NDA: 58 (BJP: 53, LJP+RLSP+HAM: 5)
Bihar Assembly’s magic figure stands at 122. A +9 advantage, old association with Sonia Gandhi and the Left parties will help RJD. Even Kushwaha and Manjhi from the NDA are more anti-Nitish than anti-Lalu. If RJD decides to move a resolution within the party to make Tejashwi the CM, It wouldn’t be much of an issue for Lalu Prasad Yadav, considering the wily political manager that he is. But if it actually happens, it is curtains for CM Nitish Kumar. He will have only the following three options.
Accept Lalu’s Supremacy and make way for the Yadav sons – This will undoubtedly, dent Nitish Kumar’s credentials as a top regional player but will still keep him alive in the national game. He can bank on Lalu to support him for the ‘sacrifice’ but Lalu is no one’s friend and I won’t be surprised if he pulls another rabbit out of his hat in 2019.
Reject Lalu’s Supremacy, Resign and sit in the opposition benches – This will be Nitish Kumar’s “idealistic” move but will be a political Hara-kiri. Going at loggerheads with both Lalu and BJP will snatch Nitish’s CM Chair and PM ambitions, in one swift go. This will also turn Congress against Nitish Kumar, thereby aborting the grand opposition alliance fetus right inside the womb.
Go back to NDA with folded hands: This seems improbable. Nitish Kumar cannot do Yes to BJP, No to Modi anymore, because the dynamics have completely changed and the Bihari Modi (Sushil Modi that is) has been cut to size. This move will mean Nitish Kumar bending his knees to Narendra Modi – his arch nemesis. Considering the egotist that Nitish Kumar is, this doesn’t look likely. But Nitish Kumar is also an opportunist of the purest kind so well…one cannot simply reject this theory as well.
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