DC Edit | Dexterous Nitish Kumar Wins Trust Vote in Bihar
The most dexterous trapeze artist among Indian politicians, nine-time Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, has proved it yet again. The Socialist leader landed safely on the bar on Monday when he won the confidence vote by winning 129 votes in a House of 243 members, bagging seven more votes than required to keep his government going. The vote was necessitated after he quit INDIA, a platform of Opposition parties for which he took the initiative to form, and joined the National Democratic Alliance, the banner under which he fought the 2020 Assembly election.
Mr Kumar has defied most of the logical tools pundits employ to explain political phenomena. One of the early allies of the BJP and member in the Atal Behari Vajpayee Cabinet, he quit the NDA in 2013 when the saffron party decided that then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi would be its prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 Lok Sabha poll. Mr Kumar formed the broad Mahagathbandhan with his bête noire Lalu Prasad Yadav and the Congress for the 2015 Assembly election, and romped home. Two years later, he embraced Mr Modi and returned to the NDA, faced the elections in 2020 and got the chief minister’s job back thanks to the mercy of the BJP which had by then overtaken his party, the JD(U), in the count of members in the Assembly. Another two somersaults followed and he’s proved his mettle and majority again on the floor of the Bihar House.
Mr Kumar has been presiding over closely for two decades a state which comes at the bottom of every single parameter government think-tank NITI Aayog prepares annually, whether it is the Human Development Index or literacy rate or school enrollment ratio or debt burden. It also remains a state which is the recipient of Union government’s financial bonanza owing to the backwardness of the state. Unfortunately, the state has not yet benefitted from the rule of Mr Kumar, a trained engineer and a passionate reformer who had his political baptism in the JP movement. Even the party to which he belongs has not: it has been steadily losing its ground and now comes after the RJD and the BJP in terms of the number of MLAs. After draining the last vestige of credibility as a politician, it only remains to be seen how long will Mr Kumar remain relevant in the state politics, let alone at the national level. How people will react to the changing colours of the government with no rhyme or reason also remains to be seen.
The turf in Bihar is now open mainly for two players: the BJP, and the RJD which is one of the very few political parties in the country with no history of a truck with the former. The RJD and its leader Lalu Prasad Yadav had their calculations go completely wrong when they parted ways with then ruling United Progressive Alliance ahead of the 2009 Lok Sabha elections. It will be interesting to watch if Mr Kumar will face the same fate as that of his former comrade or will he have a punch above his weight.