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What’s cooking in Nitish Kumar’s political cauldron?

What is JD(U) boss and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar up to? Despite being part of the ruling NDA, he is no longer on the same page as others on a growing list of issues.

Published: 13th August 2021 07:19 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th August 2021 08:01 AM   |  A+A-

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish KumarBihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar (File Photo | PTI)

What is JD(U) boss and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar up to? Despite being part of the ruling NDA, he is no longer on the same page as others on a growing list of issues. Allies need not have similar positions on all matters but they don’t generally articulate their differences in public. Which was why Nitish’s demand for a probe into the Pegasus snoopgate, at a time when the BJP was stonewalling calls for a debate in Parliament, came as a surprise.

Pressuring the Centre for caste-based enumeration is another dart, since it strays from the NDA’s attempts to encash the IOUs for announcing 27% OBC quota in AIQ (All India Quota) seats in medical education, and the Constitutional amendment to give states the right to notify their OBCs. That Nitish is a product of post-Mandal OBC politics is well known. But when he appears inclined towards the suggestion of his strongest adversary, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, on holding a standalone Bihar caste census, political lines could easily start getting blurred and questions on who is with whom and for how long would start swirling. As it is, the JD(U)-BJP vibes in Bihar are not exactly positive. And the recent appointment of Lalan Singh as the JD(U) national president is being read as hurting the BJP at its roots. Modi denied him a Cabinet berth but gave it to his predecessor because of his pro-BJP leaning. Also, the JD(U)’s rather sharp tone on contesting the Uttar Pradesh polls with or without the BJP did not go unnoticed.

After Nitish aligned with the RJD in 2015, he was seen as the best bet to lead the national Opposition in its fight against the Modi sarkar. But Nitish switched sides and lost his USP. Analysts now reckon he wants to take a shot at prime ministership, which is why he is gradually building distance within the NDA. Others like Mamata Banerjee, Sharad Pawar and Rahul Gandhi vying for the Opposition leadership’s position have only served to catalyse his ambition. It would require political realignment. If Lalu Yadav agrees to be kingmaker, anything is possible. Much though will depend on how the UP polls pan out.



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