Sunday, March 17, 2013

Intention OF Nitish Kumar

Decoding the politics of Nitish Kumar's rally

    (Economic Times )    

                                                 Nitish Kumar's Sunday rally in Delhi was to convince the central government that Bihar was a "special-category" state that needs cheap funds for development. "Give us special status by 2014, else, we will give it to ourselves afterwards," he thundered before a crowd of around 50,000 people.

But there were several layers of meaning attached to this rally: political signals to the BJP, his ally in Bihar , to the Congress and tantalising hints of new alliances before elections next year. Unlike other leaders close to the BJP, Kumar has made no bones about his antipathy towards Narendra Modi, the BJP's Gujarat chief minister.

The BJP rank and file is rooting for Modi to be projected as the party's candidate for the prime minister's job in the run up to the 2014 elections. This is deeply discomfiting for other BJP leaders who hope to have a shot at India's top job if the party has the numbers to form a government. But their opposition to Modi has been veiled as they try to gauge the popular mood. Kumar's implacable opposition to Modi is a recent phenomenon.

In 2002, when the Gujarat pogrom took place under Modi's watch, Nitish was an ally of the BJP and railway minister in the NDA government in New Delhi. Even when Atal Bihari Vajpayee spoke disparagingly of Modi slipping on his duties of raj-dharma , Kumar did not emit a squeak of protest; nor did he walk out of the alliance as several other parties did later.

So, why has Kumar turned against Modi today? Part of the answer lies in Bihar's politics and Kumar's recent electoral successes there. In the 2010 assembly elections , his JD(U) stormed back to power for a second consecutive term, winning 115 of 243 seats and about 23% of all votes.

Ally BJP won 91 more seats with 16.5% of votes. It looks like a stable alliance, but Modi's entry on the scene could upset things badly. To see why, look at the caste and religious alliance cobbled up by Kumar in recent years. His own caste brethren, the Kurmis, are too few to matter in polls. Numerically small Brahmins and upper castes could vote for the BJP or Congress - if the Congress shows signs of life - anyway. Yadavs, a numerically large bunch, have their saviour in Kumar's rival Lalu Yadav.

The JD(U)'s success, therefore, depends on winning over the large non-Yadav backward castes, most backward castes and, most crucially, on breaking Lalu's Muslim vote bank. Kumar has achieved this last by creating backward and most backward categories, entitled to state benefits, among Muslims. The entry of Modi, Kumar fears correctly , could destroy this finely wrought pattern driving all Muslim voters back to rivals like Lalu.

Even though Lalu's RJD won a miserable 22 seats in the assembly, it retained 19% of all votes, a significantly higher percentage than what even the BJP polled. Forget the rhetoric about development and so on, it is a finely balanced caste-religious equation that determines who rules Bihar. Modi's presence could blow it all for Nitish in the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls.

The second thing about Kumar's aversion to Modi is personal ambition : if Modi can harp on his development record and dream of becoming prime minister, why can't Kumar dream the same dream? If no major party has a compelling number after 2014, a hodgepodge government, led by Kumar, can become feasible. Why else would he say on Sunday that "Delhi would soon be ruled by people who care about the poor and backward states?" Reports from Patna say that JD(U) lawmakers are being taunted by BJP allies with greetings of "NaMo Namah ," using the first syllables of Modi's name to push home a point.

As tensions with the BJP rise and elections get closer, it makes sense for Kumar to slide closer to the Congress. This will unnerve the BJP as well as the RJD, which supports the UPA from outside. In the general elections, the worst thing that can happen to Kumar is a multi-cornered free for all, with the JD(U), BJP, RJD and Congress slugging it out for votes.

The biggest beneficiary of this will be the RJD, which could win many more seats than its current numbers suggest. Kumar's politics of opportunistic alliances means that he would prefer to tie up with one big party before elections. If the BJP, with Modi, doesn't work for him, it will have to be the Congress.

Read my views expressed a few months ago--------

Last but not the least , NItish and Narendra Modi are two stalwarts in the domain of NDA who have earned name and fame not only in their states but throughout the country. As such both should try to resolve their problems and shed their individual ego . Both are fit candidate for highest post. They may serve as PM and Deputy PM or as they like , but the nation needs the services of both at national level.

Unity is strength and strength of NDA lies in their unity . Nitish and Narendra  should not be victim of divisive tactics of media men and Congresss Party.

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It is therefore necessary to maintain unity not only between BJP and JDU and but also try to bring AIADMK, BLD, TDP,SP and other likeminded parties closer to NDA to dethrone UPA government  at the earliest. People of the country are very much bored to see Congress Party in power.

It is remarkable to note that Congress Party is in power not by support of popular votes but by clever tactics of keeping other parties divided on the issue of secularism and reservation for various caste and communities. Even in last election held in five states Congress Party could not gain in popular votes , despite all out efforts made by Rahul, Priyanka and other flatterers in Congress Party.

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