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Despite all speculations Nitish Kumar is not expected to join the NDA
Following CBI raids on Lalu Prasad Yadav and his family members in connection with the IRCTC hotel scam during Lalu's tenure as Railway Minister, once again people have started speculating that there could be a possible break up in Bihar's Mahagathbandhan.

Not only the Bihar state BJP, but also many media channels are forecasting that Nitish has made up his mind to leave the grand alliance and join the NDA. Nitish's endorsement of some of Modi's decisions including demonetisation; his support on GST; backing NDA's presidential candidate; few praises for Narendra Modi; distancing himself from RJD on corruption issue; and dissenting on Congress's behaviour (Even KC Tyagi had said that NDA was better than the UPA) gave rise to such speculations.

In politics nothing is impossible. It's also said that in politics, none is permanent friend or permanent foe. The coming together of Nitish and Lalu is a prime example of the same. However, in all my previous articles, I have opined that Nitish Kumar has no intention to join the NDA, for the moment at least. Many friends ask me, why I think so? Well, my logic rests on the below facts.

There is no doubt that Nitish Kumar is an excellent administrator and a reasonably honest man. But at the same time, he is also a shrewd politician with big ambitions. He can be selfish as far as power politics matters. Let me give some examples first to establish Nitish's character and then I will explain what his game plan is.

In undivided Bihar (before Jharkhand was formed out of it), the BJP was a larger party than Samta Party (an offshoot of the Janata Dal formed in 1994 by Goerge Fernandes and Nitish Kumar). Even after JD(U) was formed by merger of Sharad Yadav-led Janata Dal, Lokshakti Party and Samta Party, the BJP still remained a larger party.

However, the alliance between the BJP and the JD(U) couldn't defeat Lalu Yadav's RJD in Bihar. During that time, Advani-led BJP decided to project a CM candidate from a junior party. Although, George Fernandes favoured his prodigy late Digvijay Singh as the CM candidate, both Advani and Vajapayee backed Nitish Kumar to be the CM face of Bihar.

In spite of Nitish belonging to the junior party of the alliance and not being the first choice for CM, he later became the Chief Minister as NDA candidate. After becoming the CM, he systematically weakened the George Fernandes group using Sharad Yadav and finally became the number one leader of JD(U). Not only that, he also succeeded in reducing BJP's status to a junior partner of the NDA alliance in Bihar. This proves that he is gifted with a shrewd political mind.

But, before the general election of 2014, he miscalculated that Modi-led BJP would get a complete majority, although, he was sure that Congress would lose severely. According to his calculations, in the 2014 general election, there was possibility of formation of a third front government supported by either the BJP or Congress, wherein he could become the Prime Minister. Unfortunately, NDA got a resounding mandate in 2014 Lok Sabha election. Thus, to keep his image right he resigned temporarily expecting that Narendra Modi will soon be opposed inside the BJP too. It should be remembered that Nitish has a very good rapport with senior leaders of the BJP (Advani and all his coterie). But Narendra Modi did just the opposite, smarting out and side-lining all senior party leaders including Advani who could have posed a threat to him and finally became the unchallenged leader of his party.

This development made Nitish Kumar change his tactics. To regain his lost ground in Bihar, he aligned with his bete noir Lalu Prasad Yadav and formed the Mahagathbandhan. He had thought that his party the JD(U) would become the larger partner of the coalition. But the results proved otherwise, and Lalu's party the RJD emerged as the larger partner of the coalition. Now, Nitish has two challenges at hand, one is to maintain his dominance in the Mahagthbandhan and secondly to fulfill his longtime ambition of becoming the Prime Minister of the country.

 

To overcome the first challenge, Nitish is gradually tightening the noose around Lalu's neck. Many experts believe that some of the sting operations conducted against Lalu Yadav were carried out at the behest of Nitish Kumar. Furthermore, Nitish was completely aware of Lalu's plan to topple him from the CM's chair post UP election, had the SP-Congress won handsomely. However, UP election results proved to be a dampner over Lalu's plan.

Interestingly, the Bihar mandate is advantageous for Nitish Kumar as numbers of JDU plus NDA exceed the half way mark, allowing Nitish to exert pressure on Lalu Yadav to fall in line. In the coming days, it is most likely that Nitish will push for the resignations of Lalu's sons over corruption charges, and then he will demand a larger share of seats for the 2019 general election. Technically, Lalu has no other option but to comply with the demands of Nitish Kumar. In the bad situation Lalu is, it would be suicidal for him to allow Nitish Kumar to join the NDA. Hence, whatever Nitish Kumar is doing is very well planned.

In his strong message to the Congress party, Nitish has said that the UPA can't win in 2019 under Rahul Gandhi's leadership, while stressing on the need for a strong alternative to Modi. He has indirectly indicated and offered himself as united opposition's PM candidate, as people of India see him as the only alternative to Narendra Modi. Also, in case he is announced as the PM candidate, he can bring along BJD, TRS and even the disgruntled Shiv Sena under his alliance. However, the Congress party has been unrelenting as it does not want to overlook Rahul Gandhi. Then, there's a problem from Mamata Banerjee also. However, Nitish Kumar moves his pawns cleverly on the political chessboard. That's why it is highly unlikely that Nitish Kumar would join the NDA, for the time being at least. But what's interesting is that Nitish is playing politics of pressure using his possibility of returning to the NDA as a leverage to achieve his goals.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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