Rajat Sharma

Will the opposition ever accept Nitish as its PM candidate?

AKBBihar chief minister Nitish Kumar on Thursday announced that his new cabinet will take oath after August 15, and a special session of state assembly will be called on August 24 and 25. The new Mahagathbandhan government will prove its majority in the assembly and a new Speaker will be elected. A no-confidence motion notice has been moved against the Speaker. A broad understanding has been reached among alliance partners about the portfolios that would be given to the new ministers.

Meanwhile, there are clear indications that Nitish Kumar may step into national politics with his eyes set on Delhi. Senior BJP leader Sushil Modi, who served as deputy chief minister under Nitish Kumar for ten years, revealed that the JD-U supremo decided to ditch the BJP, after his request to be made the Vice President was not accepted by the BJP high command. Sushil Modi disclosed that JD-U leaders had met BJP leadership with this request, but it was not accepted. ‘Had BJP made Nitish the Vice President, he would not have left the NDA and would have been singing paeans for BJP’, Sushil Modi said. Nitish Kumar denied the allegation as ‘bogus’.

There is no doubt that Nitish Kumar wants to enter national politics. Now that Jagdeep Dhankhar has been sworn in as Vice President, the issue is over. Nitish Kumar is eyeing the PM’s post, and is planning to mobilize anti-BJP forces. Nitish Kumar shifting to Delhi politics will suit his deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav fine. The latter can then fulfil his dream to become the Bihar CM.

One more interesting disclosure was made by Sushil Modi. He revealed that Home Minister Amit Shah rang up Nitish Kumar two days and asked why his party leaders like Lallan Singh were making anti-BJP remarks. Nitish Kumar replied that “our Lallan Singh is just like your Giriraj Singh. Please do not give much importance to his remarks, please do not worry”. Nitish Kumar kept Amit Shah in the dark and snapped his alliance with the BJP.

BJP leadership is confident that Nitish Kumar will prove to be a dud in national politics. BJP leaders say, Nitish Kumar, who could not win two Lok Sabha seats for his party from Bihar in 2014, will never be taken seriously by other opposition parties. Of course, it cannot be denied that the sudden crossover by Nitish Kumar to the opposition camp has pained BJP leaders, and it is visible from their remarks. On Wednesday, BJP leader and Union Minister Giriraj Singh lashed out saying ‘the opposition is leading Nitish Kumar up a blind alley’.

The opposition camp in national politics, dominated by regional parties, is observing Nitish Kumar’s moves keenly. NCP supremo Sharad Pawar said, Nitish Kumar took a timely and correct decision, which is laudable. Pawar alleged that BJP had earlier weakened its former allies Akali Dal and Shiv Sena in a similar manner, but this time it was Nitish Kumar who paid BJP back in its own coin. The Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena also welcomed Nitish Kumar’s move, with party leader Arvind Sawant alleging that BJP will never allow regional parties to grow.

Similar reactions came from Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress and K. Chandrashekhar Rao’s Telangana Rashtra Samiti. KCR’s daughter K. Kavitha said, ‘the political development in Bihar is a good sign for the country and Nitish Kumar’s move must be praised’. AAP supremo and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, when asked whether his party would support Nitish Kumar for the post of PM, said: “We will decide when the Lok Sabha elections will take place.”

All the opposition leaders who described the Bihar developments as “the beginning of change” and “beginning of countdown against BJP”, are already known for their staunch anti-Modi stand. Leaders like Sharad Pawar, Mamata Banerjee, Uddhav Thackeray, K. Chandrashekhar Rao and Arvind Kejriwal do not leave any opportunity to criticize Modi.

Since Nitish Kumar has given a shock to the BJP, these leaders are now praising him. Nitish Kumar is also giving call for opposition unity. But when questions will be asked whether these parties would accept Nitish as their leader to challenge Modi for the post of PM, the opposition unity will crash to pieces even before the answers are given. This, in a nutshell, is where the opposition stands today.

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