On the side lines of standoff between India and China, another standoff between JDU and RJD was also being played, though it could not attract much attention.
First, there were rumours Lalu Prasad Yadav was in touch with BJP to ensure his past scams are not probed. Apparently, he failed in convincing the BJP to intervene and reign back governmental agencies. Finally, entire family with the exception of their pets are booked for so many misdeeds ranging from granting favours to receiving favours.
Nitish Kumar, the hinge on which the ruling coalition of Bihar swings was also swinging like a pendulum, though by chance and not by choice. To avenge Lalu contacting BJP without keeping him in the loop, he first supported Presidential candidate of NDA, and blamed delay in UPA’s selection process. As if to prevent the mistake from recurring, Congress announced opposition’s candidate for VP elections and Nitish endorsed the selection promptly.
Meanwhile, the other Modi of Bihar was continuously reminding Nitish Kumar about Sushasan and how it is compromised by letting Tejashwi Yadav to continue as DyCM. Sushil Modi and Nitish Kumar behave like a divorced couple, who got disengaged owing to their compulsions but not due to personal enmity. In fact, Sushil Modi, along with other senior ministers of BJP in the then government played a major role in transforming Bihar under Nitish, when the JDU-NDA alliance was ruling.
In all probability, Nitish had listened to the most senior member of BJP’s Margadarshak mandal, who also happens to be his mentor. If it was the jinn of Jinna that sent his mentor packed into the elder’s council, it was the Modiphobia that forced Nitish to ally with not so ‘Neeti’ practicing Lalu’s family and Congress, the fountainhead of corruption. If Nitish’s early regimes were known for the positive news emanating from the state, his present tenure is marred with many a controversies involving Lalu’s family members.
To keep his image intact, Nitish wants Tejashwi to resign from the post of Dy CM. Lalu Prasad Yadav already refused this demand, but with a rider. He will not let the Mahagathbandhan fail. In other words, Lalu conceded that Tejashwi would resign, if Nitish pushes harder. One of his MLAs threatened Janta Dal saying ‘RJD has 80 MLAs and what we want only will happen”. To this, JD’s spokesperson retorted “It would not take even 5 minutes to quit power”.
Well, the situation is now clear. The tug of war is clearly in favour of Nitish Kumar. The once mighty Lalu is no more the same maverick to spin political strategies around his opponents. The karma of corruption is knocking at the doors of his palatial residence. Like the age old saying explained, ‘the result of Adharma may not be immediate, but is definite and would affect even future generations, till the rot is rooted out completely’.
Immediately after Nitish supported NDA candidate Lalu thwarted off rumours of him separating from Nitish Kumar and questioned the questioner “Do I look mad to you”? Lalu was correct in sticking to Nitish. He is like a drowning man holding onto a weed of grass. The best of his sons, Tejashwi is not a matured politician. In fact, his skills are not even tested and he failed in whatever situations he had handled, including the recent attack on a journalist who was questioning him.
Tejashwi got physical even with one of his party’s spokesman for failing to defend the tainted family on a live debate. In the days of live information, it is difficult to prevent such activities from spreading to prospective voters.
If news reports are to be believed, Lalu may be planning to support Nitish’s government from outside i.e., all his ministers would be resigning along with Tejashwi. This means, Lalu family would be conceding all ‘real’ powers to Nitish and be living on the side lines. But, can Lalu afford that? Perhaps not. Lalu’s clout depends on distributing the loot amongst his leaders. Assembly elections in Bihar are still at a distance. If Lalu’s men can’t enjoy power for three years, there is little chance his workers would be spirited to fight the cause of the family. In fact, there is no guarantee that Lalu’s family will control the party by supporting the government for three years.
Unlike the Congress that needs Nitish for projecting an image of united opposition, Lalu really has no use of Nitish, and is enduring him only because RJD doesn’t have majority even with the support of Congress. As such, there is no individual political future for Lalu Prasad, who is out on bail after being convicted. All he is now trying is for ensuring his offspring too would enjoy same level of comforts in coming decades, albeit at the expense of average Bihari.
For Nitish, however there is an option. He can easily join hands with BJP and form the government. Though this is an easy option, it would give a chance to both RJD and Congress to call him the backstabber. More than that, he had to be at the mercy of Narendra Modi, whom he challenged on his own turf and won handsomely, just two years ago. He is in the proverbial state of being sandwiched between rock and hard place.
Nitish Kumar cannot allow Tejashwi to continue in the government headed by him. Nitish cannot join hands with BJP and form the government. Then, what can he do?
He can opt for fresh mandate. He may recommend to the governor to quash the present government and request for fresh elections. In the fresh elections, he may tie up with Congress and ditch RJD. As such, RJD is a long term liability, even for Congress. With the ageing Lalu and amateur sons, it is difficult for RJD to win 80 seats again in the election. As his own personal image is at its peak, Nitish may seek to take a risk. Then, even Modi’s popularity is at its crescendo and it may so happen BJP may return to power. BJP coming to power means, end of road for any ambitions to Nitish Kumar – and there will not even be any discussion of Lalu & Sons.
Seemingly, Lalu may prefer his sons and others relinquish power and support Nitish Kumar from outside of the government. This will buy time for both Nitish and Lalu’s groups to do self-evaluation and decide future courses. Once the cases are cooled down, RJD may return to government. On the other hand, if Tejashwi or any other family member of Lalu visits jai, it is end of the game for Lalu’s rule in Bihar. But, for Bihar people, the current standoff may not augur well as it only disturbs the already disturbed state.