Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown. This is what is happening to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar as his crown or chief ministership is infested with thorns from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Since the BJP secured more seats in the Bihar Legislative Assembly elections and walked away with the majority of the plum posts in the Nitish cabinet, the chief minister has been feeling undermined and suffocated. The anti-incumbency factor and the spoilsport played by Chirag Paswan – the self-appointed ‘Hanuman’ of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was responsible for the Janata Dal (United) losing many seats in the Assembly polls by cutting the vote pie.
Sensing Nitish Kumar’s discomfiture, political turncoat Upendra Kushwaha, who has returned to the JD (U), is trying to butter and ghee Nitish Kumar and inflame his prime ministerial ambitions. This time, Kushwaha talked about Nitish Kumar being a ‘Prime Minister material’ at the National Council meeting of the JD (U). Earlier, he had spoken the same. The platform chosen by Kushwaha to say this again points out that he has the green signal from Nitish to this PM material bogey to make the BJP jittery. Nitish Kumar himself is no more subdued these days. He is making political noises again to keep himself relevant in national politics. Whether it is the Pegasus investigation demand or the caste-based census, Nitish Kumar is daring to take on the BJP. He has even washed down his hostility with Ganga water in Patna towards Tejashwi Yadav and was showering his affection towards Tejashwi in New Delhi after meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the caste-based census issue. Tejashwi responded in full measure to his ‘Chacha’ Nitish’s overtures. Perhaps, Nitish Kumar is giving a message to the BJP that he has his options open. He can break bread with his friend-turned-foe, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) founder Lalu Prasad Yadav again.
The reaction was bound to come from the BJP on the PM material statement. “The JD(U) leaders are branding him as PM material, but why should others do? They have not borrowed money from him,” BJP MLC Nawal Kishore Yadav questioned.
“A person qualified for the post of Prime Minister and projecting a leader as the PM candidate are two different things. Narendra Modi is the Prime Minister of India and he will remain the prime minister until people of the country vote against him,” he opined.
It may be recalled that on Sunday, Upendra Kushwaha at a national council meeting said that Nitish Kumar has all the ability and qualifications to become the Prime Minister of the country. Kushwaha also said that JD(U) will start “Mission Nitish” in the country. This ‘Mission Nitish’ set the cat among the pigeons. The BJP seems to be scurrying for cover. However, KC Tyagi, the national general secretary of JD (U), explained: “The idea is to expand the party in other states. It is necessary to expand the Nitish model across the country. He has done well in Bihar and many states have followed his policies.”
Nitish Kumar is a shrewd player. He will not jump with joy and pat Upendra Kushwaha on the back. He will watch the outcome of the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly elections, poll results in Uttarakhand and Goa next year. If the BJP is decimated in these polls, Nitish Kumar may give wings to his prime ministerial ambitions. There are too many prime ministerial aspirants and the list is growing by the day. Too many cooks spoilt the broth in 2014 and 2019. Will the opposition learn any lessons?