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In Subtle Message to Coalition Partner BJP, Nitish Says 'He Runs the Govt'

In September 2013, just two months after snapping 17-year-old ties with the BJP, Nitish Kumar, while addressing a program hosted by National Commission for Minorities, famously said, “Hame Kabhi Topi lagani paregi to kabhi Tilak bhi lagana parega (We might have to wear cap on some occasions and wear a tilak on others.”

Alok Kumar | News18dmalok

Updated:March 20, 2018, 6:12 PM IST
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In Subtle Message to Coalition Partner BJP, Nitish Says 'He Runs the Govt'
File photo of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. (PTI Photo)
Patna: In September 2013, just two months after snapping 17-year-old ties with the BJP, Nitish Kumar, while addressing a program hosted by National Commission for Minorities, famously said, “Hame Kabhi Topi lagani paregi to kabhi Tilak bhi lagana parega (We might have to wear cap on some occasions and wear a tilak on others.”

His political maneuvers since then saw him forming the government in alliance with old foe Lalu Prasad Yadav and last year, in a sudden reversal, he decided to return to the BJP-led NDA camp.

In this five-year period he witnessed his party Janata Dal (United) being decimated in 2014 general election and coming to power in the state the year after with the support of time tested social combination of Lalu’s RJD.

All along, Nitish wanted to create a social combination that would blur the caste fault lines and would be helpful for his party irrespective of the motivations of his alliance partner.

This compulsion made him to caution his partner BJP when he supported concerns raised by another NDA ally and LJP leader Ram Vilas Paswan and said, “I will not compromise with corruption and neither with divisive politics of any party.”

Indirectly he was making his displeasure public over comments of BJP leaders about recent incidents of violence and communal flare ups.

While campaigning in Araria, BJP state president Nityanand Rai had warned that if RJD candidate wins the district will become a den of ISI.

RJD went on to win the Jehanabad Assembly seat. However, bypoll results failed to indicate any wave.

Just after the results, a BJP worker and tea seller was beheaded in Darbhanga for allegedly not removing the board of ‘Narendra Modi Chowk’ erected near the shop.

Union Minister Giriraj Singh accused administrative machinery of concealing facts. Nityanand Rai warned of serious consequences.

In between, communal tension was reported from Bhagalpur on the eve of Hindu new year. The police have filed FIR against Arjit Shashwat, the son of Ashwini Chaube, for inciting the mob.

After results were announced, a purported video of RJD supporters emerged from Araria in which youths could be seen chanting anti-national slogans.

BJP ministers Giriraj Singh and Ashwini Chaube, state ministers Nand Kishore Yadav and Mangal Pandey quickly made it clear that anti-national activities would not be tolerated.

Meanwhile, Nitish’s party chose to be silent till Nitish himself opened up and categorically denounced such divisive politics.

Rebuffing BJP ministers, Nitish said, “A leader should not comment without verifying any information. This is publicity stunt. Viral used to be a disease earlier. ”

He termed Darbhanga incident as a land dispute and assured rule of the law in the state without any prejudice.

He reminded the BJP that his party would not budge from the principle of ‘justice with equity’.

In doing so, Nitish is trying to perhaps start the process of social mobility, which many feel was moving in the desired direction during his second tenure as the CM.

‘Vikas Purush’ Nitish, riding on the plank of good governance, successfully made inroads in the hearts and minds of almost every section of the society during the 2010 assembly election. The results of which made it clear that the caste polarisation was giving way to issue-based politics. JD(U) successfully made inroads into Muslim votes, hitherto considered RJD bastion.

While increasing his tally of votes with BJP, Nitish, during 2005-2013, ensured that the base of his party was spread among all sections of the society.

However, this process came to an abrupt halt in 2015 when he joined hands with Lalu. It ensured Nitish another term as the CM but his endeavour of boosting the social base of JD(U) took a hit.

Now again, Nitish would be eager to re-start that process in which communal polarisation has no place to play. He does not forget to mention the welfare schemes for minorities from various public platforms and claims to have done for them what no government did in the history of Bihar.

Recent remarks by BJP leaders clearly do not fit in his scheme of things and he chose to rebuff them by saying,“We are coalition partners but I’m heading the government.”

In doing so, he tried to instill confidence among the vulnerable sections of the society.

However, this time around BJP seems in no mood to play second fiddle to JD(U). But to accomplish mission 2019, Bihar is the key and BJP knows the importance of Nitish Kumar.

At the same time, Nitish will also like to leverage this positioning in favour of his party.

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| Edited by: Ashutosh Tripathi
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