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Political Play
KG Suresh
Nitish Kumar march to Delhi: He Came, He Spoke, He Confirmed 17 March, 2013
Till 1 pm on March 17, 2013, it was only in the realm of speculation. But past his 30 minute address at the ?dhikar? rally in Delhi?s sprawling Ramlila Maidan, Nitish only confirmed what his admirers and detractors have been saying for long. That he is coming closer to the Congress-led UPA and that he aspires to be a Prime Ministerial candidate in 2014.

If the recent national council meeting of the BJP in the national capital saw Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi projecting himself as a national leader attacking the Congress first family and talking extensively on his vision of development, Nitish utilised today’s event as the launch pad to project himself as the leader of the poor, backward states.

In contrast to Modi’s development model, which is often associated by critics with crony capitalism and middle class aspirations, Nitish sought to project his vision of inclusive development, where Hindus, Muslims,  so-called upper and lower castes, one and all, found a place in the sun. He speciacally mentioned about the Aligarh Muslim University campus in his state to reiterate his secular credentials in contrast to Modi’s Hindutva.

By raising the issue of other backward states and the issue of inclusive development, Nitish apparently wanted to elevate his stature beyond Bihar ahead of the 2014 elections.

Interestingly, notwithstanding the aggressive sloganeering of his party workers and supporters who gathered at the rally, the Ádhikar’rally appeared to be more of an advance thanks giving mobilisation for the Centre ahead of an expected announcement regarding a special status or package. The Chief Minister repeatedly referred to Finance Minister P Chidamabaram’s assurance of a review of the existing criterion to grant special status.

The Congress, which is far more keen to sabotage Modi’s chances at the Centre that having JD (U) as an ally, had recently shifted the Bihar Governor to placate Kumar, who was not sharing the best of relations with him.

In Nitish’s speech, there was neither any reference to Congress or UPA or BJP and NDA. It was only after Nitish’s speech that the real purpose of keeping the BJP away from the event dawned. BJP leaders would have lashed out at the Centre and UPA mercilessly while Nitish is apparently on a fence mending mission. No harsh words were used. No reference was made to crucial issues like corruption, price rise or contentious Centre-state issues such as FDI or NCTC.

With the BJP and the larger Sangh Parivar yet to reach a consensus on Modi’s nomination as the Prime Ministerial candidate and the ruling coalition facing an uphill task confronted as it is with charges of corruption, price rise et al, Nitish knows how important it is to strike when the iron is hot and make hay when the sun shines. He knows that in the past, Deve Gowda with 16 MPs made it to the top job and I K Gujral achieved it with little support at the grass root level.

Nitish also knows that in a multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-linguistic and polarised society, wider acceptability and not mass popularity holds the key to power.

But Nitish must realise he has drawbacks. Like him or not, Modi has delivered his vision of development in Gujarat, but Bihar is no role model for the inclusive development that Nitish spoke of. And if he is banking on the mercurial Mamata or the self-contented Naveen babu for redemption, we can only pray for him.

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.
About The Author
K G Suresh is a Delhi-based Senior Journalist and Editor of Critique
COMMENTS (8)
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vibhakar
Hey chief read yr article . Its a well written one but i have some observations- i think we are reading too much into the so called "thanks giving" . There is no denying the fact that nitish is not at ease with the company of Modi. However, its also a fact that Nitish knows that joining hands -even remotely-with congress will ruin his political future. Secondly , special status of Bihar is a demand which goes beyond secular-non secular divide. Its a demand of Bihar- a resolution was passed in Bihar assembly unanimously- all party delegations have met central leaders/bureaucrats many a times so its not a demand of one individual or one party ,though Nitish is taking this sustained fight for justice to its logical conclusion. Thirdly, every political leader has a right to nurture the ambition of becoming the king or the king maker- i dont see any contradiction in such posturing- dont forget Mulayam/Laloo/Mayawati/Left combine/Mamta and many others not only nurture but practiced the art of King makers . fourthly, as you know poiltics is the art of impossibles, and in democracy its about mere numbers. No body gave a chance to coalition politics in india -but we do have 3 succesive full term coalition govts encompassing strange bed fellows. So i wont be a surprised if East decide to join hands with UP /Bihar/Jharkhand/WB/Odisha/Assam leading the charge . West and South has provided crucial oxygen supply to many govts in the past. Times are changing so we might find a new allignment of political forces in the name of development .
vibhakar
Hey chief read yr article . Its a well written one but i have some observations- i think we are reading too much into the so called "thanks giving" . There is no denying the fact that nitish is not at ease with the company of Modi. However, its also a fact that Nitish knows that joining hands -even remotely-with congress will ruin his political future. Secondly , special status of Bihar is a demand which goes beyond secular-non secular divide. Its a demand of Bihar- a resolution was passed in Bihar assembly unanimously- all party delegations have met central leaders/bureaucrats many a times so its not a demand of one individual or one party ,though Nitish is taking this sustained fight for justice to its logical conclusion. Thirdly, every political leader has a right to nurture the ambition of becoming the king or the king maker- i dont see any contradiction in such posturing- dont forget Mulayam/Laloo/Mayawati/Left combine/Mamta and many others not only nurture but practiced the art of King makers . fourthly, as you know poiltics is the art of impossibles, and in democracy its about mere numbers. No body gave a chance to coalition politics in india -but we do have 3 succesive full term coalition govts encompassing strange bed fellows. So i wont be a surprised if East decide to join hands with UP /Bihar/Jharkhand/WB/Odisha/Assam leading the charge . West and South has provided crucial oxygen supply to many govts in the past. Times are changing so we might find a new allignment of political forces in the name of development .
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