By the barest of the margins, using his entire political corpus, Bihar’s Nitish Kumar managed to usurp the Chief Minister chair in the assembly elections held last year. Before the elections, the talk of the town was that Nitish will not be getting another crack at the top post. However, the old guard managed to cling on, and he persevered.
Nitish and the rebuilding process:
With the next elections some lightyears away, Nitish is quietly building himself back. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had given Nitish the CM post, but destroyed the ‘access of convenience’ between him and Sushil Modi, by dispatching the latter to New Delhi. Furthermore, Nitish got little to no say in the cabinet as well in the appointment of the deputy Chief Ministers.
Safe to say, Nitish felt alienated and started the rebuilding process. He started by merging Upendra Kushwaha’s party with JDU, and later going after Chirag Paswan. By pulling strings from behind, Nitish managed to oust Chirag from his father’s party and settled the scores. LJP (Lok Janshakti Party) and Chirag, all throughout the assembly elections, had openly chastened the Bihar CM and called him all sorts of names.
Nitish and flip flop politics – two faces of the same coin:
However, the one thing Nitish Kumar is infamously known for, is his ineffable style of flip-flop politics. He jumps political ships in a heartbeat. He forges alliances with enemies to roar back to power, and doesn’t hesitate to mend ways with former allies who he had viciously ejected from his circle.
There is a chatter growing across the political circuit of Bihar, in rather hushed tones, that Nitish Kumar might be eyeing the support of Mamata Banerjee.
The West Bengal Chief Minister, ever since winning the assembly polls in May, has been buoyant, and on a spree to expand her party’s footprint across the country.
She recently staged the successful coup of Congress high command in Meghalaya, and is actively campaigning in Goa to counter BJP and AAP. She tried the same in Tripura, but failed miserably against the Biplab Deb Tsunami.
Nitish wants Mamata-Kishor as collateral:
However, Nitish Kumar understands that if he wants to have any sort of leverage over BJP, come the 2024 Lok Sabha elections or the assembly elections, he needs the big guns, just as collateral. Mamata could just be that piece of machinery.
If Mamata comes around to Nitish’s alleged ‘Gegenpress’ (counterattacking the counterattack) tactics, it would be inevitable that political strategist Prashant Kishor comes back to the fold once again.
Kishor, after masterminding Nitish’s 2015 victory, had joined the party. However, differences over CAA led to the state CM expelling him from the party. The breakup was acrimonious and Kishor did not hide his abhorrence towards Kumar from the media cameras either.
Indian politics – a place with no permanent enemies:
But this is Indian politics. It’s a strange place where certain individuals can leave the NDA by calling the future PM communal, fight elections, trade vicious jibes, and later rejoin forces, as if nothing transpired.
This is the same country where in a state like Bihar, two bitter political rivals can go after each other’s throats for the better part of two decades, cuss each other, but when required, can seemingly come around and forge an alliance to keep the BJP out of power and emerge triumphantly.
Hence, as early and as innocuous this prediction may seem at the moment, the truth is, pieces have started to move. Nitish is covertly planning his next moves to ensure his survival in the ever-evolving political landscape of the country. Mamata is the hot commodity at the moment and Nitish, the shrewd politician, wants to use her for his benefit.