Patna,(BiharTimes): It is often being said that Nitish Kumar is repeatedly attacking his Gujarat counterpart, Narendra Modi, keeping in mind the Muslim votes. But many political observers in the state totally disagree with this view as Nitish had already managed to get a sizeable section of Muslim votes in 2010 Assembly election.
Minority votes always have their limitations and this factor can not be extended too much. After all Lalu Yadav paid the price by over-playing the Muslim-Yadav (M-Y) factor for too long. There is only 16.5 per cent Muslims in Bihar and the BJP can fully exploit the anti-Muslim sentiment in any given situation.
So it would be naïve to suggest that the Bihar chief minister is simply attacking Modi because he wants to further consolidate his hold on the Muslims in the state. The minority voting pattern always suggest that they often go with the ruling party or alliance. In the first few decades of independence Muslims, in general, voted for Congress. It was only in the anti-Congress waves such as in 1977 and 1989 that they voted for opposition parties. After 1989 they shifted to Lalu Prasad Yadav and continued to vote for him till 2005. By 2010 when Nitish consolidated himself a sizeable number of them voted for him notwithstanding his alliance with the BJP.
Even in the Muslim dominated north-eastern districts of Bihar the NDA candidates, including that of some BJP, got a good percentage of Muslim votes.
When many Muslims voted in Oct-Nov 2010 Assembly election for the NDA they were fully aware of Nitish’s good relationship with Narendra Modi. They had seen the photo of famous handshake between him and Modi in Punjab in May 2009. They were well aware that Nitish Kumar did not speak a single word against Narendra Modi after Godhra incident and subsequent riots in 2002 when he was the railway minister in the Vajpayee cabinet.
So today if Nitish is repeatedly singling out Narendra Modi he has something else too in the mind. The Gujarat chief minister has become a favourite whipping boy for many politicians both within the BJP and outside. Why not keep targeting him. Nitish knows very well that a sizeable section of BJP and the entire Congress party would be pleased by this action. He would get good media coverage and remain in national limelight.
This would certainly increase his bargaining position. The anti-Modi faction within the BJP and Congress, both would like to have Nitish with him.
His party has 20 MPs, exactly the number Trinamool Congress has in the Lok Sabha. So in any eventuality he can switch side.
Nitish and his supporters are fully aware that he can not become Prime Minister as he has hardly any influence outside Bihar. Even in Jharkhand the tally of Janata Dal (United) came down from five to two in the Assembly election held in Dec 2009. So with 20 or so MPs no one can ever dream of becoming the Prime Minister of the country, but can certainly increase the political clout in this era of alliance politics.