Nitish leaves his own party-men red-faced as he begins a new innings jointly with BJP in Bihar

Nitish and Laloo: Friends no more

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar yet again “invoked his conscience” to justify his decision to leave the ally RJD and Congress, with whom Nitish’s party JDU had jointly fought election against BJP’s communal agenda, and retain power, while leaving RJD and Congress out of the Government.

As Pratap Bhanu Mehta, the Vice-Chancellor of Ashoka University writes in “Old ways die hard”, a column in Indian Express earlier today: “Nitish Kumar has always been a politician’s politician. This has manifested itself in many ways. His first instinct has always been survival. He now has an enviable track record of managing to remain an indispensable figure in Bihar politics. His second instinct, like many politicians in India, is to ensure a relatively weak internal party organisation that ensures he is never challenged from the inside. He has combined that with a personal outreach, recognition, popular touch and a relative absence of personal thuggery to remain an important figure. In Bihar, electoral secularism was a wise thing to hold onto, which he did. But he never had any qualms about the NDA. He has also  managed to paradoxically combine both dependence on allies with his own indispensability.”

BJP is undoubtedly upbeat as they have pulled up a political coup of sort. Bihar was very important for realizing their dream of pan-India presence. And it is a big setback for Congress’s dream of making a strong front against the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. While Laloo and Rahul both have stated they had seen the writing on the wall few months back, apparently the biggest setback has been for certain politicians within the RJD, who claim to have been taken by surprise. It is strange that while Rahul Gandhi and Laloo Yadav had seen this coming, they could not fathom Nitish would go on to join hands with BJP so soon.

Nitish’s own party-men look stunned. Rajya Sabha MP Ali Anwar Ansari has spoken out against this new alliance claiming that even party leader Sharad Yadav was not aware of Nitish Kumar’s decision to walk out of the Grand  Alliance and form a government with the BJP.

Talking to newspersons, Ansari had said: “Nitish Kumarji has said he quit the Grand Alliance because he listened to his voice of conscience. My conscience does not allow me to support the decision to form a government with support from the BJP. He further said: “Though there were indications from sometime, I never believed that Nitishji will join hands with the BJP again. We were the ones who gave the slogan of ‘Sangh-mukt Bharat’ and ‘Sharab-mukt Samaj’. The issue on which we had parted ways with the BJP, fearing that they will get further strengthened under Modi, is what is happening today… So why join hands with the BJP now.”

Veerendra Kumar too said he was shocked by Nitish’s decision and said the Kerala unit of the party of which he is the state chief will not follow the Bihar Chief Minister into the NDA fold. He appealed to all JDU MPs to denounce the move and quit the party.

Sharad Yadav even met Rahul Gandhi, though he is also said to have spoken on phone with Finance and Defence Minister Arun Jaitley.

Even though the immediate reaction of some of the JDU politicians is one of shock, politicians as they are, RNI has learnt that a few of them have already started making approaches for a Cabinet seat in the Union Government. Ali Anwar Ansari didn’t made himself available for comment today and his office maintained that his stand of not going with the BJP remains the same even today.

BJP sources have already started hinting of a cabinet expansion and it remains to be seen whether the politicians of JDU who are opposing the move stick to their stand or they too join the BJP bandwagon with lucrative cabinet ministries in the Centre.

Aziz Haider

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