Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar must be regretting about breaking a successful alliance with BJP that was forged by socialist giant George Fernandes to root out RJD and Congress from the state. Barely six months into the alliance with its bete noir RJD, he finds that his ‘elder brother’ Lalu Yadav’s RJD would stop at nothing to shatter Kumar’s carefully cultivated image of the past 10 years of being an upright and anti-criminal politician. Since politicians love their image more than anything else, there is a talk in Bihar of Kumar reverting back to alliance with the BJP. The Prime Minister wishing him on his birthday has heightened speculations in this regard.
The latest act of Lalu Prasad of humoring notorious Shahbuddin has embarrassed the chief minister to no end. Last Sunday, Bihar Minority Welfare Minister Abdul Ghafoor and RJD’s Raghunathpur MLA Harishankar Yadav’s made a “courtesy call” on former the RJD MP and convicted criminal in Siwan jail. The timing of the visit could not have been better for the BJP, which is already attacking the Nitish Kumar government for its inability to arrest Nawada MLA Rajballabh Yadav in connection with the alleged rape of a Nalanda girl.
A video footage that has emerged shows Shahabuddin flanked by Yadav and Ghafoor, with food laid on a table in front. Defending the duo, RJD chief Lalu Prasad said, “The BJP has no work these days. It is no big deal for people meeting a jailed leader. What happened if a minister met Shahabuddin? When I was in Ranchi jail, so many people, including important leaders, came to meet me in jail.” Nitish has apparently not relished this statement of his elder brother and he is said to see in Lalu’s move a clear design to embarrass him as well as trying to win over a sizable chunk of Muslim vote bank.
Seizing the opportunity to increase the rift between the RJD and JD(U), BJP Legislature Party leader and former Deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi said: “How can criminals be afraid of law when a minister visits one of them and calls it a courtesy call? It is common knowledge that Shahabuddin played a role in the RJD’s candidate selection process before the assembly polls — and he did it from inside jail. Ministers and MLAs kowtow before him… this government is shielding criminals.”
Reminding the government that the Nawada MLA is yet to be arrested, Modi said, “The chief minister needs to act tough rather than talking about his commitment to law and order.”
As things stand, the arithmatic and mathematics of politics favour the formation of an NDA government. For instance, Nitish Kumar’s plan to emerge as a pan-India leader already stands shattered. The best medium term prospect for him would be to rejoin the NDA alliance, stay in Bihar as Chief Minister without trouble, or move to the centre as an honorable minister in the NDA cabinet where he would have at least piece of mind and his image intact.
By: M K shukla (Editor)