The recent Bihar ‘quickie’ is a significant example of how intense politics can get, shifting to a prominent ruling party before the upcoming elections was a smart move for Nitish Kumar, but how will the juggling work under the huge BJP juggernaut?
Breaking the 2015 Grand Alliance at Bihar, JDU’s Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar resigned unexpectedly from his post, after Bihar’s Deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav was surfaced with corruption charges. Just within few hours after resignation, Kumar allied with BJP and formed majority and just the very next day, he was comfortably re-elected with trust votes as the Chief Minister of Bihar. This was a smart move for Kumar because with Grand Alliance, his party JDU with 71 seats was overpowered by 80 seats of Lalu Prasad Yadav’s RJD. But after shifting, JDU is now senior partner to BJP which has just 53 seats in Bihar and he has the strong BJP backing.
Interestingly, the largest beneficiary is BJP because of two reasons – 1. BJP giant factor and 2. The ‘changing’ history of Nitish Kumar. BJP is under inevitable political upswing with ruling in 20 states and their own strong government, so JDU’s ‘seniority’ in Bihar would hardly even matter – BJP will have the higher hand anyway. Next, the most important factor – Nitish Kumar’s wavering history.
Kumar had been a strong ally of NDA since the inception of his party JDU, but in 2013, when it was clear that Narendra Modi will be BJP-led NDA’s prime ministerial candidate – Kumar left the alliance with BJP. He was so much against Modi that to display his opposition, Kumar joined hands with RJD and Congress in 2015 to form the Bihar Government and with the Grand Alliance, Kumar became Bihar’s CM for fifth time. But then again, when the Yadav dynasty was charged with corruption allegations, Kumar hustled right away and broke the alliance to bury the hatchet with strong soils of BJP.
The shifting may have benefited Kumar, but it exposed his personal idiosyncrasies by underestimating the power of Modi in 2013 and that as he suffered in Bihar, he tried to consolidate it by surrendering to Modi’s national supremacy over himself. This means that he is literally stuck with BJP and he cannot return back to the Grand Alliance, not with the same bargaining power. Proving himself as an opportunist approach, it shows how Kumar’s alliance decisions are driven less by ideology and more by the pursuit of power.