Patna,(BiharTimes): There is no dearth of political pundits who feel that ever since November 8 demonetization Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar has been giving enough friendly signals to his former ally and now bitter rival, Bharatiya Janata Party. He first backed note ban, when almost all the opposition parties and even his own party’s former president Sharad Yadav, opposed it. Though it is also true that he asked prime minister Narendra Modi to crackdown on benami land/property. It was much later that he criticized the hardship being faced by the people outside banks and ATMs.
Independent political observers were baffled by this stand of the JD(U) chief as apparently he had hardly gained anything from this gesture towards the saffron party.
In return prime minister Narendra Modi, during his visit to Patna on the occasion of Prakash Utsav on January 5 praised him. But that was a religious function and not much political meaning should be attached to it.
True Narendra Modi did appreciate Nitish, but that was at the time when he was bombarded from all side––even some from within––for going for noteban without making any prior preparation.
But here in Bihar the other Modi––Sushil Kumar––was ruthless in his criticism of each and every action of the chief minister. Other BJP leaders do were unsparing in their criticism of Nitish.
On the other hand in the process of softening his stand towards the BJP Nitish not only created suspicion among the allies––RJD and Congress––but strained his relationship with Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee.
However, many analysts, who have been watching Bihar politics closely, are of the view that Nitish is known for his double-speak. He in fact wants to create a situation in which the RJD, which is a much bigger party, does not blackmail him.
After all the RJD wants its share in the appointment of chairpersons of Boards and Commissions and in the posting of district magistrates and superintendents of police.
Early this week Nitish invited in dinner all the legislators. This was the first such occasion after the snapping of ties with the BJP in June 2013 that he invited all the MLAs and MLCs during the Budget Session of the Assembly.
Something unusual happened. Leader of opposition in the Assembly Prem Kumar and former minister Nand Kishore Yadav abstained from the dinner while on the other hand the otherwise bitterest critic Sushil Kumar Modi attended it. Not only that both Nitish and SuMo were seen sitting closer to each other and talking.
This development took place just after none from Lalu Prasad’s family members took part in the Bihar Diwas function on March 22 on the plea that they were not invited.
Besides, there was some tiff among the Grand Alliance constituents over the Legislative Council election on March 9 in which RJD could win none of the four seats. Former CM Rabri Devi even said that the chairman of the Council would be decided by the Grand Alliance and not by the chief minister.
There are many in Bihar who feel that if Nitish is really drifting towards the BJP he is going too far for no big gain. He went to Chhattisgarh and praise the Raman Singh government’s record on PDS after meeting the chief minister.
“If Nitish really makes a home coming to the BJP he would lose whatever credibility he had. He had made too many U-turns and in the process lost several friends,” commented a journalist, adding as to why he had then deserted the BJP in 2013 when he was so comfortably placed.
“If the advent of Narendra Modi made him so uncomfortable that he left the NDA how will he adjust in today’s situation when the BJP has Modi+Amit Shah+Yogi. What Nitish needs to understand is that he was given so much freedom by the BJP between 2005 and 2013 because the party was at its weakest point. He would not get the same freedom now when he has lost his bargaining position,” the journalist added.
Once he would be in the NDA he would lose all the media space already occupied by the three top BJP leaders. And what about the prime ministerial material, which his partymen boast of almost every alternate day, asked a commentator.