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Who are the real Paltus here?

That Nitish Kumar said and did what he did is relatable. But what about Modi or Shah?
Last Updated 24 February 2024, 22:05 IST

Recently, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar ditched I.N.D.I.A., which he himself helped establish, and returned again to the BJP-led NDA months before the national elections. Right after, there were memes and videos calling him a paltu – the Hindi term for one who changes sides, a turncoat. As he switched allegiances and was sworn in as Bihar CM for the ninth time, Kumar burnished his credentials as a highly untrustworthy helmsman of a major regional party. The question is though, was he being singled out? Think who else is paltu in this equation.

After the Assembly election results in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, the most cock-eyed supporters of I.N.D.I.A. may have given up any hopes for them. It has meant a predictable beeline to the BJP-led NDA’s doors, to the arms and feet of Modi and Shah. Everyone knew Nitish Kumar was a paltu. He justified being so and babbled an explanation saying he was doing this (once again) only for the “progress of Bihar”!

That Nitish Kumar said and did what he did is relatable. But what about Modi or Shah? They usually bay for the blood of their rivals. Modi spun it this way, “Whenever the JD(U) has been with the NDA, Bihar has seen progress.” On the heels of the Shiromani Akali Dal re-joining the NDA, Shah said, “The BJP is a party that believes in family planning, but is always open to having a large and extended family with like-minded colleagues.” The SAD, the BJP’s oldest alliance partner, had left it at the height of the farm laws’ protest in 2019-2020. Paradoxically, they return exactly when the Centre has tear-gassed and used pellets against protesting farmers, and hammered nails on the roads leading from Punjab and Haryana into Delhi over a new wave of farm strikes owing to the distress in the agrarian economy.

Anyway, we must not forget that opposition parties, especially regional parties, have been at the receiving end of the ED and the CBI. On the other hand, there is none of that happening in the BJP-ruled states. Does it mean only non-BJP-run states are ethically dubious and the ones where they are in power are beacons of good governance? One only has to look back to Karnataka under the BJP before they were voted out in 2023. Still, the moment a regional party allies with the NDA, all their flaws appear to disappear. Voters, have you ever been made to look so foolish?

Nevertheless, what’s most shocking is, we’ve reached a stage where few are asking the obvious question, or maybe aren’t even allowed to raise it. That is, it takes two hands to clap. If Nitish Kumar or the RLD’s Jayant Chaudhary from UP or the SAD or the Gowdas of the JD(S) are paltus, then it needs the BJP to be one, too. If Nitish Kumar is a paltu, he needs Narendra Modi to be one. Therefore, if the BJP is so powerful and confident as it claims – Modi stood in parliament and claimed that he would win 370 Lok Sabha seats for the BJP alone – then why does it even need these troublesome allies? Isn’t something amiss here?

But the WhatsApp andh-bhakt gets a ‘masterstroke’ explanation for everything, which he/she diligently believes and forwards: Ah, didn’t Rama embrace Vibhishana to defeat Ravana? Didn’t the gods themselves seek the help of demons and accord them respect to help churn the oceans for the nectar?

Hmmm…well, Nitish ji, one knows what happened to the asuras once the ocean had been churned and the nectar obtained!

(Rahul Jayaram is a teacher and writer who believes we are living through the apocalypse @rajayaram)

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(Published 24 February 2024, 22:05 IST)

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