RJD-JDU alliance has been one of the most unnatural alliances in the recent times. It is an open secret that that the alliance partners of Bihar Mahagathbandhan cannot stand the sight of each other. The pre-poll public displays of affection turned into an uncomfortable stay together when the first signs of cracks appeared in the alliance. In the month of August, last year –Bhagalpur MP and a close Yadav Family confidante 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.
Soon, RJD strong man and Lalu’s favourite button man, Shahabuddin was released on bail in Bihar. This was done despite strong objections of the Bihar CM. It must be noted that Nitish Kumar was pivotal in getting the Bahubali behind the bars in his first full term as the CM of Bihar.
But Nitish Kumar is no novice. Nitish Kumar arguably is the shrewdest politician of the present generation, a politician blessed with phenomenal survival instincts. Even as Lalu Prasad Yadav was busy wringing his neck, Nitish Kumar started sending feelers to a desolate BJP which was still licking its wounds after the calamitous wipe-out in Bihar Assembly Elections.
Nitish Kumar and Modi have been good friends in the past and Nitish Kumar took no time in encashing the past goodwill. He didn’t just stand with the government on the demonetisation issue, he even derided the opposition for not supporting a ‘noble’ and ‘progressive’ move. He supported the Modi Government when General Bipin Rawat was appointed the army chief and the entire opposition cried hoarse about politicization of army. Since then, Nitish Kumar has divorced himself from the opposition, sending Lalu Prasad Yadav into a state of shock. BJP too has been receptive towards JDU’s friendly advances and has indicated warmth for Nitish Kumar and JDU. JDU leaders Nitish Kumar, Sharad Yadav and Harivansh were inducted in the 149-member national-level committee to celebrate Jan Sangh founder, Deendayal Upadhyay’s birth centenary. Recently both Modi and Nitish Kumar were seen smiling and posing for the shutterbugs in Sikh turbans.
But Lalu Prasad Yadav is a seasoned politician too. He lacks in subtlety but not in substance as far as rules of realpolitik are concerned. Today he announced “Nitish Kumar and I are both getting old, how much longer shall we drag? It’s time for young leaders to take over.” This is as convenient as it can get for Lalu Yadav. Nitish Kumar is politically heirless and Lalu has two sons waiting to grab the throne as soon as Nitish Kumar vacates it. While Tej Pratap is a minister in Nitish’s cabinet, the younger brother Tejashwi is the Deputy Chief Minister. Last Thursday, Lalu’s wife and former Bihar CM Rabri Devi claimed that people of Bihar wanted to see her son Tejashwi Yadav as the CM of the state. Later, she sheepishly confessed that she was actually talking about 2020 Assembly elections.
One needs to put their toe in water to see how cold it is. That’s exactly what Lalu Yadav is doing. In his typical jovial style Lalu is testing waters to see how Nitish Kumar camp reacts.
So currently the two alliance partners are locked in the game of political muscle flexing. Lalu Prasad Yadav wants Nitish to recognize that he is the boss and the throne is not the patrimony of just one person. While Nitish Kumar is trying to make Lalu understand that he is not without options.
In my opinion, Uttar Pradesh election results, will in a way, decide Bihar’s fate too. If BJP registers a thumping victory, their win in 2019 elections will be safeguarded too. In that case, Nitish Kumar will be forced to reconsider his stand and join the BJP with gratitude and humility. A loss for BJP will embolden the opposition for sure.
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