Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar’s exit from the opposition has killed the possibility of a national Mahagathbandhan against NDA for the 2019 Lok Sabha election.
The fate of Bihar Mahagathbandhan was sealed the day chief minister Nitish Kumar announced his support for the NDA presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind. After that, the developments which culminated in Kumar’s resignation and then re-incarnation as Bihar CM of a BJP-supported government in the state, today, were events that had to happen sooner or later. The bigger question in this development is who is going to be the ultimate winner—Nitish Kumar, PM Narendra Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), or Rashtriya Janata dal (RJD) supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav.
The chances of Lalu Prasad Yadav and party gaining stronger foothold riding on a sympathy wave, on the premise that Kumar has ditched him after winning election against BJP with his support, appear sketchy. Especially, considering the cases pending against his family and Bihar’s caste dynamics. On the other hand, there is no doubt that it will help both the BJP and Kumar in 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
But, for Kumar, going back to BJP after fighting a fierce battle has not been an easy decision. As a change of side, from opposition Mahagathbandhan that included Congress party, to ruling NDA led by BJP, takes away the possibility of Kumar becoming the prime ministerial candidate of a united opposition in 2019.
Kumar has now accepted that a better idea is to play second fiddle to PM Modi in the larger NDA game plan, than to ride the jolted Bihar Mahagathbandhan tiger. For the time being, it is the PM Modi-Amit Shah duo that looks to be the ultimate winner in the Bihar episode. As in the absence of Kumar, the chances of opposition cobbling a national Mahagathbandhan for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, even with coming together of Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party, have faded.The Congress party doesn’t appear strong enough to bring all the opposition parties together. This may have been a reality with Kumar’s support.
Bihar gain, thus, is ‘advantage BJP’ for the 2019 Lok Sabha election. If PM Modi dispensation doesn’t commit a blunder during the rest of the tenure, NDA may be better placed to return to the Raisina Hill.