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Nitish Kumar: master craftsman of realpolitick who believes that politics is the art of the possible | India News


PATNA: “Politics is the art of the possible,” the German statesman Otto Von Bismarck once said.
And who understands it better than Nitish Kumar, the modern architect of realpolitick, who has survived many headwinds to secure a fourth consecutive term as Prime Minister of Bihar despite his party finishing in a poor third in the assembly. from 243 member states.
Nitish Kumar’s unusual ability to spot friends has gotten him where he is despite a drastic drop in his party’s electoral fortunes, which won just 43 seats, up from 71 in 2015, and 31 fewer than the ally. BJP, who scored 74.
The most atypical of politicians due to his rise to post-Mandal politics, Nitish Kumar was noted for his ability to address the governance deficit, unlike most of the socialist stable-raised breed, but was often accused to pursue opportunistic policies.
Call it political opportunism or sagacity, their moves, in effect, prevented Hindutva forces from dominating Bihar, where a section of the BJP is mortified that it does not have its own prime minister to date despite enjoying near-hegemonic status at the national level. .
Known for carefully weighing his options before making any moves, Kumar, on taking a closer look, presents himself as a risk taker who has not shied away from going against the grain.
An engineer by training who had been active in the JP movement, Kumar turned down a job offer from the state electricity department and decided to take a political risk, a rarity among Bihar-educated youth for whom the appeal of “sarkaari naukri” remains. without diminishing.
Unlike Lalu Prasad and Ram Vilas Paswan, his fellow travelers during the movement led by Jayaprakash Narayan, electoral success eluded Kumar for a long time.
He first tasted victory, after three consecutive defeats, in the 1985 assembly elections, when he won Harnaut as the Lok Dal candidate, although Congress swept the elections with the favorable wind generated by the assassination of Indira Gandhi past year.
Four years later he entered the Lok Sabha from Barh, including when his fellow MP from Saran Lalu Prasad moved to Bihar, assuming the post of prime minister and writing a spectacular success story that altered the political landscape of the state.
Kumar, one of the most eloquent leaders of the Janata Dal, had fully backed Lalu in the disputed internal competition for the position of chief minister.
The next decade and a half saw the rise of Prasad as one of the most powerful but controversial figures of his time who ruled the state by proxy, getting his demure wife Rabri Devi chosen as his successor, when a charge sheet in fraud of fodder made him resign as prime minister.
During the same period, Kumar burned his bridges with Prasad, floated the Samata Party, and built his own political edifice brick by brick.
The Samata Party joined forces with the BJP and Kumar made a mark as a prominent parliamentarian and was counted among the competent ministers of Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s cabinet.
After a rift between Sharad Yadav, the then president of Janata Dal, and Lalu Prasad, the latter broke up and formed the RJD. The Samata Party merged with Sharad Yadav’s Janata Dal while continuing its alliance with the BJP.
After the NDA lost power in 2004, a victory in Bihar offered the promise of some degree of redemption for the BJP-led alliance.
Attempts to seize power from the RJD-Congress combination, then in power also in the Center, after the NDA failed to achieve a majority in the February 2005 assembly polls, were hampered by the governor’s controversial decision Buta Singh to dissolve the assembly, without even having been constituted, before an alleged horse trade.
This, however, proved a blessing in disguise for Kumar, who was projected as the leading ministerial candidate in the elections that took place nine months later and the combined JD (U) -BJP won a comfortable majority, leading to the call ” it was Lalu. ” ” until the end.
Kumar’s first five years as prime minister are remembered with admiration even by critics, marked as they were by a vast improvement in law and order, although the new administration had no shortage of people with criminal records among its bases.
Realizing that, unlike Lalu, he did not have the advantage of belonging to a populous caste group, Kumar created sub-quotas between the OBC and the Dalits, which were called “Ati Pichhda” (EBC) and “Mahadalits”. who resented dominant Yadavs and Dusadhs, Paswan’s caste companions.
He also introduced measures such as free bicycles and school uniforms for the girls who went to school, which earned him much adulation and the exuberant atmosphere of the public saw him return to power in 2010, leading the JD (U) -BJP coalition to a landslide victory in the country. Assembly surveys.
However, the period also saw the end of the “Atal-Advani era” in the BJP and Kumar, who could not fathom the potential of his then Gujaratic counterpart Narendra Modi, was confronted by the post-Godhra riots in the western state. .
Flaunting his secular ideology, Kumar had managed to prevent Modi, seen as a polarizing figure due to the Gujarat riots, from campaigning for BJP Bihar in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections and the assembly elections a year later. , something that still irritates Hindutva hardliners. .
Finally, he severed his party’s 17-year ties with the BJP in 2013 when Modi was appointed head of the BJP campaign committee for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
After parting ways with the BJP, he won a vote of confidence with the support of Congress, but resigned in 2014, owning the moral responsibility for the beating of the JD (U) in the Lok Sabha elections, when the party returned with a gloomy count of only two.
In less than a year, he was once again prime minister, elbowing his rebel protégé Jitan Ram Manjhi with broad support from the RJD and Congress, and came to be seen nationally as a potential challenger to Modi.
The Grand Alliance that emerged with the union of JD (U), Congress and RJD, won the 2017 assembly polls handsomely, but fell apart in just two years, after Kumar insisted that Lalu’s son and Senior Deputy Minister Tejashwi Yadav, whose name had come up in a money laundering case related to the time when RJD supreme was the railroad minister, “clarifies” the issue.
He abruptly resigned as prime minister when the RJD refused to budge, only to return to office in less than 24 hours with the support of the BJP.
Those who saw a “secular alternative” in Kumar were disappointed and shouted betrayal of the “public mandate.”
Nitish Kumar, though weakened by electoral setbacks, is back on the bench, disproving the prophets of doom.
But the mechanical engineer will have to muster all his skills to keep the machinery of government running as he navigates the NDA ship through the tricky waters of coalition politics where tail wagging the dog may not be easy.

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