Trapped by BJP, this could be Nitish's last innings

Trapped by BJP, this could be Nitish's last innings

Trapped by BJP, this could be Nitish's last innings
When Nitish Kumar was sworn in as Chief Minister of Bihar here on Thursday, it was for the sixth time in the last 17 years that he was administered the oath of office. Of these six occasions, he has donned the mantle with the support of BJP on four times.

Known as an able administrator who established the rule of law in an otherwise lawless State, Nitish’s gamble of aligning with estranged partners may not fetch him rich political dividends anymore in future. After all, his credibility has been widely eroded if one takes into account the developments in the last 24 hours here in Bihar.

The hush-hush manner in which he first submitted his resignation to the Governor and then invited BJP leaders for dinner, followed by confabulations with an ailing Governor in the midnight (of Wednesday) where he preponed his swearing-in, shows his lack of confidence in self as well as his new-found ally – the BJP.

Political observers, who have covered Nitish for the last three decades, argue that so rattled was Nitish on Wednesday that he wanted to be sworn-in as early as possible and prove his wafer-thin majority in the House before the return of Lalu Prasad from Ranchi.

Lalu was in Jharkhand capital to attend proceedings in a CBI court hearing fodder scam cases. Lalu, whose RJD is the single largest party in the Assembly, was originally supposed to return on Saturday but came back to Patna on Thursday evening after the case was adjourned.

“Nitish had apparently some kind of apprehension that if Lalu’s RJD stakes claim to form the Government with the support of Congress and others, there could be a political turmoil in the State where governance has already taken a backseat,” said political commentator Ajay Kumar.

His observation was not wide off the mark as Lalu, addressing a press conference in Ranchi, cited the SR Bommai judgement and said being the single largest party (80 RJD MLAs in 243-member Assembly), the RJD should have been invited first to form the Government.

The Governor’s action, as well as Nitish’s decision (to jettison RJD and join hands with BJP), made RJD supporters so angry that it spilled over on to the streets. Roads were blocked since 4 am in North Bihar to protest Nitish’s action till Lalu called upon his supporters to abandon their agitation plan.

Such anger was visible in June 2013 too when Nitish severed ties with his 17-year-old ally the BJP, with whose support he served as Union Minister as well as Bihar Chief Minister. “The way Nitish Kumar has betrayed the mandate does not augur well. One can’t befool all the people all the time,” lamented Bihar Congress president Ashok Choudhary who till yesterday was Education Minister in Nitish’s Cabinet.

Lalu was more forthcoming. “Nitish has been trapped by the BJP. The way he deserts his alliance partners every now and then, no body is going to trust Nitish anymore. This will be his last innings as the Chief Minister as he an opportunist of the highest order,” said Lalu, who has known Nitish since his student days in the mid-70s.
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