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Nitish Kumar attends PM Modi-hosted lunch but declines Sonia's invite - but would he join the NDA?
Once again, there are speculations and raging debates running on TV channels that Nitish Kumar is hinting that he may join the NDA abandoning the Mahagathabandhan of Bihar, in which Lalu's RJD and Congress are the other partners. This debate recently gathered even more momentum as Nitish Kumar skipped the united opposition's meeting-cum-lunch hosted by Congress president Sonia Gandhi on 26th May, 2017 but gladly accepted Prime Minister Narendra Modi's lunch invite, which the PM had hosted in honour of the Prime Minister of Mauritius.

In fact, Nitish's inclination towards the BJP has been a hot topic of discussion for quite sometime now in various circles. Recently, when raids on Lalu and his family members were conducted in different parts of the country, Lalu Prasad Yadav posted a tweet, sarcastically congratulating the BJP for acquiring "a new alliance partner", apparently hinting that Nitish Kumar had partnered with the BJP to get his assets raided. Although, Lalu Yadav later withdrew that tweet, but the rift between Lalu and Nitish is clearly visible.

Nitish Kumar has openly supported Narendra Modi's policies in the past, especially 'demonetisation'. There also have been many instances where Nitish-Modi bonhomie has been clearly visible in the public arena. Recently, Nitish Kumar stated that he is not a PM candidate for the 2019 general election.

Rumours are also abuzz that had the Congress-SP coalition won in the UP Assembly election, Lalu Yadav's son would have been made the CM of Bihar, forcing Nitish to make an unceremonious exit. Some have even said to the extent that BJP's win in UP saved the Nitish government in Bihar. Another valid point to be noted is that Nitish Kumar himself did not campaign in Uttar Pradesh.

Hence, now the question is, will Nitish Kumar join the NDA?

It's always said that in politics nothing is impossible. But then, my understanding says that Nitish Kumar will not join the NDA. There are two simple reasons for this. Firstly, Nitish's returning to the NDA would damage his reputation beyond repair as it was he who had himself marched out of the NDA just ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. Secondly, even if Nitish Kumar returns to the NDA, he would not command the big brother's share in the coalition. With just 16.8 per cent vote share, he can't bargain with the BJP which has a 24.4 per cent individual share (NDA share was 34.1 per cent, as per 2015 Assembly election results). 

Is everything well between the RJD and JD(U)?

The clear answer is a no! Friction between Lalu Yadav and Nitish Kumar is apparent. RJD members with criminal records and long history of corruption have not proved good for Nitish Kumar's image. Nitish Kumar, also isn't ready to put his reputation on the line just for the sake of holding on to power. That's why, silently, he is acting tough against such exposes. He has given an indirect warning to Lalu Prasad Yadav and the RJD that his tolerence too has a limit, and if required, he is even ready to quit the post of CM. Nitish very well knows that organisationally, his party the JD(U) is not very strong, but still, he is popular among people because of his integrity and clean image.

Should Nitish's bonhomie with Modi serve as a warning for Lalu Prasad Yadav?

I would say that although not exactly a warning, but the RJD should take a serious note of it. The reasons for Nitish maintaining good relations with PM Modi are strictly apolitical and purely intended for the development of his state. As a mature politician, Nitish Kumar very well knows that no state can develop without support from the Centre. That's why, he differs in his approach, much unlike Mamata Banerjee. Nitish is Chief Minister of a state and in the greater interest of Bihar, must not be severely critical of the country's PM. Even his attending the lunch programme at Delhi at the PM's behest must be viewed as his reciprocating the courtesy that has been extended to him, especially at an event where the Mauritius PM was in attendence. It should not be forgotten that Mauritius is a country where more than fifty per cent of population speaks Bhojpuri dialect, which is the main language spoken across the state of Bihar. 

To conclude, I would say that there shouldn't be any speculations or debate over whether Nitish is inclined to join the NDA. Rather, it should be seen as a fine example of how cordial relations between a state and the Centre should be maintained irrespective of which political party is in power. In the interest of development sometimes politics has to be overlooked. That's exactly what both Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar seem to be doing.

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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