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'BJP has upper hand in Bihar in 2024, but a challenge in 2025'

The Times of India logo The Times of India 11-08-2022 Sheezan Nezami
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Bihar politics witnessed yet another midcourse change with chief minister Nitish Kumar dumping pre-poll ally BJP and switching sides to the grand alliance camp led by RJD. Nawal Kishore Chaudhary, former dean at the faculty of social science in Patna University and also a political strategist spoke to TOI:

How do you see the scenario now in Bihar?

There are three major points which can be taken from whatever happened in Bihar till Tuesday. First, in the context of Bihar politics as well as national politics, Nitish Kumar’s popularity has declined over time. In the previous assembly election, Nitish’s JD(U) managed only 43 seats. Tejashwi Yadav, on the other hand, emerged as a young dynamic leader. Whatever happened on Tuesday shows a gradual fading out of Nitish from Bihar politics.

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Secondly, Nitish also faced BJP’s pressure. Earlier, BJP not only played second fiddle, but it was virtually subservient to JD(U). Now BJP was re-asserting itself nationally, including Bihar. The third issue is Nitish has some national ambition as he sees no future in Bihar. He is power hungry; he does not want renunciation.

Will the political realignment benefit Bihar?

No, it won’t. Bihar’s administration will face a change in direction. Even though they [RJD and JD(U)] have joined hands, they will work at cross-purposes. Bureaucracy will find it difficult to figure out which way to go, whether to accept Nitish’s command or that of Tejashwi. There will be some confusion for some time and there will be instability, which will hamper the state. Anyway, Nitish will not continue for long in the state and Tejashwi will try to emerge and assert himself. He will want his own way and since Nitish is not used to all these things, the situation may become worse for him. This time Nitish’s space will be limited as he will have no option.

Since a new coalition has taken shape in Bihar, how will it impact the battle for 2024 parliamentary election and 2025 assembly election?

Now, consolidation of opposition is taking place and NDA will become weaker in Rajya Sabha. But again, you can see that there are many contradictions among opposition parties themselves. The example is the recent vice-presidential election in which TMC head Mamata Banerjee took a different stand. Again the opposition gets trapped in the name of communal politics played by RSS and the latter uses it for vote.

As far as parliamentary election is concerned, BJP has an upper hand. PM Modi’s charisma and failure of opposition to throw up a single leader is the main reason. Modi may be right or wrong, but he has no competition. Rahul Gandhi is no match.

In the 2025 state assembly election, BJP has formidable opposition and there is no chance for BJP to win.

Who do you think is in a win-win situation in the state now?

RJD is the biggest gainer, BJP is the loser and Nitish Kumar is the minor gainer.

What was the main reason for Nitish quitting NDA?

Nitish has his own calculations. Former Union minister RCP Singh was just an excuse. Nitish moved from NDA because he knew he was going down further politically and the best way to revive his fortune (even in Bihar) was to come back to those same social forces, Mandal politics. He shifted to ‘Kamandal’ as Mandal was maligned by Lalu. But now since Nitish has saturated, he went back to the same fold. He also knew he had no scope in national politics in BJP as Modi was always there.

Can you throw some more light on Nitish’s next step as there are talks that he will try his luck in national politics now?

He has said there is no future in Bihar politics. He is trying to revive himself. But he has damaged his prospects and credibility by changing sides several times. He also has several contenders, like Mamata. The problem is he did not take risks earlier.

Now he is trying to take a chance, though it is late. But in politics anything can happen and Nitish is a political craftsman, a great strategist, and a typical Machiavellian.

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