Nitish updates status with 'backward' Bihar
By Ajay Kumar - PATNA
Published: 31st Mar 2013 10:01:12 AM
Nitish Kumar knows the art of using the right words at the right time. His penchant for the word “adhikar” has stirred the nation. The English for “adhikar” is rights. Nitish has not only shown he stands to claim his share in national politics but has told the people of Bihar he stands for their rights (“adhikar”) and the state’s.
Having organised the Adhikar Rally on 17th March at Ramlila Maidan in Delhi for raising the demand of granting “special state status” to Bihar, Nitish has not only managed to earn a new lease of attention from the Congress at the Centre and in Bihar but has also succeeded in making the Centre grant Bihar the desired 'backward state' status.
The move of raising the issue of “backward state” status to Bihar has huge political dividends for Nitish. At the Adhikar Rally, Nitish not only raised the issue of skewed development in the state as his political campaign to shift attention from his administrative gaps, but also forced all political parties to realise (once again) that JDU was a vital player in the national scene.
Nitish has started dictating terms to his ally, the BJP, particularly, on issues like party leadership. The benefits are flowing in.
Nitish has garnered the image of being Bihar’s ultimate hero. Neeraj Kumar, spokesperson, JD(U )says, “The demand for special status has nothing to do with the supporting UPA. We are very much a part of NDA. Nothing should be read between the lines on our efforts for special state status.”
The “backward state” status is a boon to Nitish as much as it is to Bihar. The status, people in JD(U) believe, will help improve Bihar’s resources. It will alter Centre-state contribution for centrally-sponsored schemes. Bihar, with nearly 54 per cent of its people living below the poverty line is currently at the bottom. But things are expected to change very soon.
In a political scenario where UPA allies like DMK and Samajwadi Party are making the survival of the UPA government very uncertain, JD(U), a major NDA ally having 20 MPs in its kitty sees the Congress wooing Nitish. Chaudhary Mehboob Ali Kaiser, President, Bihar Congress Committee says, “Nitish is very much a part of the NDA and its up to him how he takes his decision. Congress would only consider going for an alliance with him when he snaps tie with BJP”.
The JD(U) and Nitish may prove to be an important saviour at the time of crisis for the UPA. Nitish Kumar had already given the signal that his party could go with any ruling alliance that came forward to grant special status to Bihar. The Congress has even worked out a strategy to fetch support from Mamata Banerjee with an eye on the 2014 elections.
At the moment, Nitish is too interested in growing out from state politics. The BJP is not in a position to give more space to his party in Bihar as they already have 12 sitting MPs in total 40 parliamentary constituencies.
Sources in Congress say that the party is doing serious homework on how to give a major fillip to the organisation in Bihar which was a traditional stronghold of the party. The party is very much weighing the political permutation and combinations in joining hands with Nitish who may come out from NDA on the issue of a likely projection of Narendra Modi as its prime ministerial candidate. This new political combination will fetch the Congress 16.5 percent minority votes.
Nitish initially tried going with issue-based support and kept cards close to his chest to try his luck in the forthcoming 2014 elections. The “backward state” status to Bihar gives Nitish good alibi to join the Congress fold. A lot of political churning will be taking place in coming months and Nitish is determined to win India from his chair in Bihar.