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Bihar’s Mahagathbandhan in a Fix After Nitish Kumar Backs Kovind for President

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s tilt in Presidential election may decide the future of Mahagathbandhan in the state and Congress-led effort to forge anti-BJP alliance at the Centre.

Alok Kumar | ETV

Updated:June 24, 2017, 5:12 PM IST
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Bihar’s Mahagathbandhan in a Fix After Nitish Kumar Backs Kovind for President
In this January 5, 2017 photo, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar share lighter moments during the 350th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Gobind Singh at Gandhi Maidan in Patna. (PTI Photo)
Patna: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s tilt in Presidential election may decide the future of Mahagathbandhan in the state and Congress-led effort to forge anti-BJP alliance at the Centre.

Now, When Kumar’s party Janata Dal (United) has decided to support Ram Nath Kovind for the top constitutional post, a BJP nominee supported by other National Democratic Alliance (NDA) partners, it is anybody’s guess that the ruling alliance will crumble early than was being stipulated by some political analysts.

The biggest alliance partner Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) is now in a fix with Kumar already distanced himself from the corruption charges against the RJD leader Lalu Prasad Yadav and his family.

The JD (U) move has rendered the Opposition meeting scheduled for as meaningless. The AIADMK, YSR Congress, Biju Janata Dal (BJD), Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) and Shiv Sena have already pledged support for Ram Nath Kovind.

Senior journalist Surendra Kishore feels that now it’s only ideological compulsion for the Congress, Left and the RJD to not support Kovind. Any chance of putting up a fight is gone.

“Nitish Kumar was being seen as a possible leader of the Opposition before the 2019 general elections. But Nitish was very clever to sense that it won’t work as Congress will not back any other leader than Rahul Gandhi. So, he made it clear last month that he was not in the race for the post of Prime Minister,” Kishore said.

Kishore believes that the BJP has pre-empted any possible opposition unity by projecting a Dalit leader.

By deciding to go with the BJP, Kumar has made it clear that he will continue to take decisions without taking care of Prasad’s RJD or the Congress. His growing bonhomie with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been the talk of the town in the state.

On the pretext of a busy schedule Kumar did not participate in the Opposition meeting called by the Congress president Sonia Gandhi but had a lunch meeting with the PM next afternoon.

Kumar’s party has been projecting him as a ‘Sushasan Babu’ who treated anti-social elements with an iron fist during his first two terms as the Chief Minister of Bihar. In fact, he had waged the war against the ‘Jungle Raj’ of Lalu with the help of BJP and came to power.

Nitish kept his promises, and with focus on developmental works he earned the image of a “Vikash Purush”. But the political equation took a U-turn in 2013 when the BJP announced Modi as prime ministerial candidate. JD (U) played the secular card and parted ways the BJP. After being drubbed in the 2014 general elections, it was Kumar’s compulsion to join hands with the old ‘enemy’ Lalu and the Congress.

This grand alliance registered a thumping victory. It was considered a smooth going for the alliance during initial months but first strains were visible when the defiant supporters and leaders of the RJD allegedly started resorting to the old ways of threatening officials, recommending lists of transfers and postings and forced contractors to give commissions.

This was against the first two Avatars of Kumar – Sushasan Babu and Vikas Purush. In between the BJP gained heavily in many states. Its vote share zoomed in West Bengal and Kerala. This year Modi wave swept UP and the BJP came to power after two decades. It must have played on the mind of Kumar as on the other hand Lalu the leader of his alliance partner, was facing a series of corruption charges.

Recently, The Income Tax Department has seized 12 plots belonging to Lalu’s son and Deputy Chief Minister Tejaswi Yadav, his three daughters and a son-in-law. The BJP has demanded removal of Tejaswi as Deputy CM questioning Kumar’s much publicised zero-tolerance policy against corruption.

In between Kumar has been showering praise on Modi for every big decision taken by the Centre beginning surgical strike in Pakistan. He publicly lauded demonetisation and Bihar was among the first states who ratified Goods and Services Tax (GST). On the other hand, Modi also praised Kumar for enacting total prohibition law in the state when he was in the state capital Patna during 350th birth anniversary of Guru Govind Singh.

Seemingly, not to go after each other approach by the BJP and the JD (U) had sparked speculation that all was not well within the Mahagathbandhan.
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