OPINION | Why Nitish Kumar of 2021 is Finding it Impossible to Emulate His 2005 Ways
Janata Dal (United) president and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar at party office, in Patna. (PTI Photo)
The state capital of Bihar has been witnessing an endless saga of political manipulation. The Nitish Kumar government, which is barely two months old, has been trying to wriggle out from recent political uncertainties after it was revealed how former chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav tried to fuel dissidence in JD(U) fold.
RJD leader Shyam Rajak made a sensational claim a few days ago that 17 JD(U) MLAs were waiting to desert Nitish Kumar to make way for Tejashwi Yadav. The BJP and the Bihar CM strongly rejected these speculations.
After these incidents, Kumar has been seen as trying to re-assert his political clout and show the opposition that he still holds sway in Bihar. He is still committed to preserving the rule of law. He still means business.
He has taken recent spate of murders in Bihar seriously and has committed to curbing it. To prove his point, he effected a widespread reshuffle in the bureaucracy across the state.
The RJD-led opposition claimed the reshuffle was done due to BJP pressure, and has been trying to brand Nitish Kumar as an ineffective leader, who has been reduced to a puppet of the BJP, after the saffron party emerged as the big brother in the alliance in the recently concluded polls.
To compound matters, Bihar BJP chief Sanjay Jaiswal has also charged Kumar for neglecting the law and order situation in Bihar.
However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah have immense trust in Kumar, who can reassure businesses to invest in Bihar and who can provide necessary logistics to set up much-required agro-industries across the state. Above all, he can assure people that the rule of law will not be compromised at any point in time.
Kumar was credited with bringing to an end Bihar’s “jungle raj”, which had become an anathema for the impoverished state.
As a CM in 2005, Kumar had helped set up fast track courts and ensured speedy trials in criminal cases. Thousands of criminals were put behind bars, who were making lives of traders, businessmen, doctors and common men impossible.
One would wonder why people still reminisce of 2005, only for the reason that Bihar still remembers those bad times and more appropriately, Bihar wants to move ahead.
In political circles, it is widely discussed how illegal liquor trade is impacting the state exchequer and giving rise to a parallel economy, which is funding and fueling the recent criminal incidents in the state.
There have been also allegations against the police that they are not acting tough against the liquor cartel allowing them to run the business of smuggled liquor.
Kumar had put in place prohibition policy with much fanfare but Bihar police are finding it difficult to curb and control illegal liquor sale.
Interestingly, BJP MP from Aurangabad Sushil Kumar Singh has publicly claimed that he would bring to an end regime of prohibition in Bihar.
Congress leader in the assembly, Ajeet Sharma, wrote a letter to the chief minister and appealed him to repeal the prohibition policy. Former CM Jitan Ram Manjhi has been publicly demanding the release of those arrested under the new prohibition law.
When JD(U) is not the largest party in the NDA combine, his every action would be scrutinized by the opposition.
People would say that Nitish Kumar of 2005 was in better command of the situation if his performance is being compared today.
Apart from maintaining law and order, Bihar had been registering growth rate in double-digits, even during and after the global meltdown of 2008.
Kumar has a long way to go and prove that the people of Bihar made no mistake in choosing him as the leader of the NDA combine. He has a herculean task at hand to emulate Kumar of the year 2005, who was hailed as a leader of all communities, a Vikas Purush and a man committed to bringing development and progress in the state.
Year 2021 would be a challenging year for Nitish Kumar and people would expect from him nothing less than a miracle.