Nitish Kumar, the CM of Bihar, who has experience of almost one-and-a half decade on the top chair of the state, has come out as one of the most incompetent leaders amid the Coronavirus pandemic. This is going to dent the BJP’a prospects in the state if it decides to carry on with alliance with Nitish Kumar.
Bihar accounts for the highest number of migrant laborers in the country, who transfer thousands of crores of rupees back home in remittances, which is a significant part of Bihar’s economy. But, the Bihar government failed to handle the migrant crisis and this resulted in a near-death experience for lakhs of laborers.
The incompetence of Nitish Kumar has disgruntled the NDA ally LJP, which is also part of the ruling alliance in the state. Chirag Paswan, the young dynamic leader of the LJP, has criticised the Bihar government’s handling of the migrant crisis and hinted for a change in state leadership.
“Who will be the face, who will be the leader of the alliance is something that its largest constituent BJP has to decide. The LJP is strongly with the BJP in whatever decision it takes. If they (BJP) want to go ahead with Nitish Kumar ji, we are with them, if they want to have a change of mind… whatever decision the BJP takes, we will support,” said Paswan.
Since the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic, Paswan has constantly criticised the handling of the crisis by Nitish Kumar. And given the fact that Nitish Kumar does not likes competitors and wants yes mem around him like Sushil Modi, BJP would be forced to chose between Nitish Kumar- the old socialist who is not trustworthy, and Chirag Paswan- a knowledgable and charismatic leader (but a dynast too) who believes in the leadership of PM Modi and wants to bring a real change in Bihar.
The father-son duo led party is the key NDA ally; it contested on 6 seats out of 40 in the state in 2019 general election, winning all of them. Chirag Paswan has emerged as one of the most popular youth leaders of the state, with appeal cutting across the caste lines, in a state which is entrenched in caste politics, while the neighboring UP opted for a change and voted for Hindutva.
Bihar will go for assembly elections in October/November this year. For the last three decades, the state has been ruled by Lalu Yadav and Nitish Kumar- the two leaders who learnt politics from socialist icon Jayprakash Narayan, and emerged as poles of Bihar politics in the post-emergency era.
The state has witnessed three-decades-long povertarian socialist politics, which resulted in the state having the lowest per capita income in the country at 40,000 rupees annually- less than one-third of national average.
Bihar is looking for a change- and it would come from a new generation leader like Chirag Paswan (36) who grew up in a post-liberalisation India, and understands the modern political economy.
Given the high stakes involved in having Chirag Paswan, BJP would possibly dump Nitish Kumar and project Paswan as Chief Ministerial candidate of the alliance in the 2020 general election.
However, BJP top brass has not said anything on this yet. Instead, a few months ago, Amit Shah had said previously said that NDA would go for the 2020 Bihar election under the leadership of Nitish Kumar. “The Janata Dal (United) and the BJP will go to polls together and we will fight polls under the leadership of Nitish ji,” he said.
But, politics is a game of possibilities and probabilities, and the chances of BJP dumping Nitish Kumar and choosing Chirag Paswan as CM candidate cannot be ignored- given the fact the popularity of Nitish Kumar is at an all-time low after mishandling the Corona induced crisis.
Chirag Paswan has previously said that migrant crisis could have been handled better, taking on the Nitish Kumar government. “I will not say I am upset or angry. But there is always a scope for improvement. It appears to me that we could have done better. The way the UP CM started bringing back his state’s people from outside from a very early period is an example,” he said.
If BJP bets on Chirag Paswan and the alliance wins the 2020 election, Bihar, under the leadership of Paswan, might come out of the clutches of socialism and poverty in next few years.