When Prime Minister Modi announced demonetisation on television, it set cat amongst the pigeons in form of an already fragmented opposition parties who seemed to be fluttering with the advent of the set back. Again, even if the supposed not so impressive implementation of the policy had captivated them to unite and protest, the sheer magnitude of its objective and seemingly not proper engagement by them all into oneself blunted their attack on the govt by a considerable measure.
There was a scramble to take a centre stage against Modi perhaps keeping 2019 and national ambitions into motion. Mamata is trying to be the pilot with a marginalized Congress and other regional factotums taking a backseat. Even within the NDA fold, Shiv Sena is resorting to unprecedented bullying tactics to carve its own space within their home state. Other regional parties are mum and some are cautiously reacting considering the sentiments blended with this issue.
The case of Nitish Kumar and the JD (U) is interestingly poised as journalists and political pundits are vying to make a sense of his stance over demonetisation which has a far reaching political ramifications. JD (U) was perhaps the closest of BJP’s NDA ally with diluted outlooks towards issues like article 370 and the common civil code where the principal saffron party was harbouring a hard line. This was contra distinctive from extremism oriented like the Sena who even have supported BJP over contentious aspects like the Ram Mandir. Although JD (U) was more closeted with the moderate faction of the BJP, the bonhomie was very much fitting which saw the alliance run without any disturbance for more than a decade.
The emergence of Modi within the BJP fold to change the leadership cues left many in the NDA insecure. The Advani faction with whom the coterie around Nitish Kumar was anchored was out of the reckoning and principally abandonment of moderation was considered to be the reason why JD (U) started giving feelers of an eventual break up. However even if that may have been portrayed as a reason, some analysts were quick to emphasise the seemingly Prime Ministerial aspirations of Kumar were seen as the core behind the deadlock. As usual with ‘secular’ card and communal histrionics, JD(U) called off the partnership and one of the most mature political associations in Indian polity met its impending waterloo.
The relations nosedived to more deterioration as a grand alliance was formed between Nitish Kumar and his erstwhile principal nemesis in the form Laloo Yadav. Bihar handed over BJP its first reeling loss in the Hindi heartland after Delhi and Nitish led JD (U) came to power again with RJD laying the foundations. A grand alliance of sorts was purported to be the formula to defeat BJP in other states replicating Bihar Model however much secularism and hatred for Modi had flown out of the Nitish system.
Since then bickering at regular intervals is seen coming out of the closet between JD (U) and the RJD as the aversions towards the BJP seemed to have reached a full circle to may be begin afresh again. There have been a lot of tell tale signs and the latest smoking gun of them is invitation to the BJP on the occasion of Makar Sankranti. A week after PM Narendra Modi’s and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar’s show of affability at a function marking Guru Gobind Singhs 350th anniversary, JD(U) state chief Bashishtha Narain Singh, on Friday, invited senior BJP members to his residence for a ‘dahi-chura’ feast on January 15 to celebrate Makar Sankranti.
In the longer run perhaps both the parties need each other to secure their own political goals. BJP losing one of its mainstay states in the North would want to spring here back again in Patna with a possible govt with Nitish rehabilitating their long-lost equation. This may also help them pluck a major dissent out of the pack of regional oppositions especially securing his support for issues like demonetisation.
Nitish Kumar had ably supported the policy only raising a few implementation issues. The BJP seems to be sending the feelers too as it has softened its stance after critiquing Kumar over liquor ban in the state and prohibition.
Nevertheless, much is to gain for Kumar in case they go back to the BJP. Forget PM ambitions, with a treacherous RJD in the wings, his hold over Patna is slipping by the day. Laloo is over ambitious and after a drought for over a decade, tasting spoils for power is something he will look forward to in the future. For the BJP its about blunting more opposition and extending their clout but for Kumar joining hands with the BJP seems a much needed political survival where the remnants of jungle raj have activated again.
Even if the prospects of coming together may be in the horizon, atleast for now Nitish Kumar is keeping all his cards closer to his chest. Undoubtedly it also may be a way of showing Laloo who is the boss in the coalition indicating he may leave in case RJD dosent mend its ways.
Although Kumar was quite accommodating with respect to demonetisation, his stand on issues like common civil code is still relentlessly negative. Although after parting ways with BJP, he embraced so called secular credentials to cover up the reason behind the parting, this made Kumar some sort of a poor cousin of Samajwadi party. Appeasement did become the norm and as a grand alliance was forged with RJD, the party hyper ventilated into an unchartered territory of pseudo secularism which was not its philosophy when in NDA. As mentioned before even if Kumar happens to have a diluted outlook and catered to moderate faction in the BJP then, his party has unilaterally opposed implementation of the common civil code which may be a sticky hiccup in other wise warming relations between the two NDA partners.
Perhaps Kumar is playing smart by keeping his prospective friend and current coalition partner guessing over the course of his future political directives. Even if a formal tie up may be on the cards, the results of the UP elections may actualize and seal the inevitable. Till then Kumar knows to play it well and the political pundits may have a few more months to analyse before a new political realignment in Bihar from a hearsay and fantasy becomes a reality.
Leave a Reply