The first phase of Bihar Assembly elections has been done and dusted and the indications are coming from the state that Nitish Kumar might have to do away with his CM chair after 15 long years. However, a power-hungry Kumar is not going down without swinging for one last time. Kumar has now thrown in the tried and tested formula of giving the reservation lollipop to the voters and this time, to castes based on population.
Kumar on Thursday backed population-based reservation for castes but said it can only be implemented after census data is available.
“And as far as the question of population is concerned that is decided only after census and that decision (on census) is not in our hands. We would like that reservation be proportionate to population of castes. We have no two opinions on it,” he said.
Dalits constitute 16 percent of the total population of Bihar, the upper castes–15 to 20 percent, and the OBCs are about 50 percent. Nitish’s core vote bank is the 16 percent Dalit and 50 percent Mahadalit or OBC. With Chirag Paswan led LJP cutting into this particular vote bank, Nitish thought of reservation as an opportunity to woo the entire community to his side.
CM Nitish Kumar throwing the ‘reservation’ discussion is also understandable as he is desperate for the votes to gain the respect of his alliance partner. BJP has already given him a cold shoulder despite being in the alliance and the election strategy of the saffron party revolves around LJP cutting votes of JDU and later joining the coalition in a post-poll alliance. BJP has methodically kept Kumar out of its posters which have a life-size picture of Prime Minister Modi, further proving the assumption that Kumar is more of an after-thought for the party.
It seems as if BJP is banking on the popularity of the Prime Minister as the posters read, “Jisne ghar-ghar bijli pahuchai, wahi naye rojgar bhi dilayega,” (Prime Minister completed the electrification of the household and only he can provide jobs to people).
Also, most of the BJP leaders, while campaigning, continue to mention the achievements of the Union government instead of the Nitish Kumar led Bihar government. Prime Minister Modi himself mentioned Nitish Kumar only in the last 15 seconds of his hour-long speech and only counted the achievements of his government.
As a result, there have been several instances during the election trail where Nitish has lost his calm and exploded on the stage.
Reported by TFI, last Saturday, while addressing an election rally in Teghra in Begusarai, a section of the crowd raised pro-Lalu Prasad Yadav slogans which angered Nitish and he reacted “Agal bagal dekh lo aur samajh lo, yeh jiske liye karrahe ho, yeh log sub ko jawab denge, sabka haal theek kardenge(Look around you and understand. The crowd around you will give a befitting reply to those on whose behest you are doing all this).”
In the same rally, he went on to take jibes on Lalu Prasad Yadav and his wife Rabri Devi in a rather condescending tone, which is rarely associated with Kumar.
Nitish might have let down his state and people in terms of development and keeping up with the pace of times but one of his qualities that always stood out was his quiet demeanor where he rarely showed his angry side in front of the camera lens, however, that seems to be changing as an agitated Kumar is battling the prospect of losing his CM chair.
Nitish Kumar has had his fill of ruling over the raggedy state of Bihar and it is high time that he respectfully steps away from the spotlight before he is forced to step out. He still has the time to take the tag of “Sushasan Babu’ with himself. Knowing when to retire is also the hallmark of a good politician.