What are the JD (U) boss and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar up to? Despite being part of the ruling NDA, he’s no longer on the same side as others on a growing list of issues. Allies do not have to take similar positions on all matters, but they generally do not articulate their differences in public. Because of this, Nitish’s call for an investigation into the Pegasus Snoopgate came as a surprise at a time when the BJP was blocking calls for a debate in parliament.
Putting pressure on the center for box-based counting is another arrow as it diverges from the NDA’s attempts to get the promissory notes for announcing a 27% OBC quota at AIQ (All India Quota) seats in medical education and the constitutional amendment to give states the right to redeem their OBCs to notify. It is well known that Nitish is a product of the postmandal OBC policy. But if he seems inclined to the proposal of his fiercest opponent, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, to conduct a stand-alone census of the Bihar caste, political lines could easily become blurred and questions about who has been with whom and for how long may begin to buzz. As it is, the JD (U) -BJP vibes in Bihar aren’t exactly positive. And Lalan Singh’s recent appointment as JD (U) National President is seen as a violation of the BJP at its roots. Modi refused him a cabinet seat, but handed it over to his predecessor because of his pro-BJP inclination. The rather sharp tone of the JD (U) when challenging the Uttar Pradesh polls with or without the BJP did not go unnoticed.
After joining the RJD in 2015, Nitish was considered the best choice to lead the national opposition in the fight against the Modi Sarkar. But Nitish switched sides and lost his USP. Analysts are now assuming that he wants to take a chance on the office of prime minister, which is why he is gradually building distance within the NDA. Others like Mamata Banerjee, Sharad Pawar and Rahul Gandhi, who vie for the position of opposition leadership, have only catalyzed his ambition. It would require a political realignment. If Lalu Yadav agrees to become kingmaker, anything is possible. Much, however, will depend on how the UP surveys develop.