Two days and continuing. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s taunts at the Congress have not stopped. His message to the Congress and other parties is clear: Unite, or perish under the saffron surge. While addressing a meeting of JD(U) leaders in Patna on Sunday, Kumar had blamed the Congress for the ongoing mess in the Opposition camp. He said that a “Sangh-mukt Bharat” (RSS-free India, which the Opposition aim for) would be possible only if all Opposition parties are united.
On Monday, Kumar took the message further, saying India needs an “alternate narrative”, not just the “reactionary narrative”, the Congress and some other parties have been trying to build vis-a-vis every move of the Centre. Kumar cited an example of the farmers’ issue, saying such a reactionary narrative was built around his support to NDA’s Presidential candidate pick Ram Nath Kovind, that the farmers issue, for which protests were held across the country last month, went to the back burner.
In the last three years, the Opposition have been jumping from one issue to the other to corner PM Narendra Modi-led NDA — from intolerance to demonetisaion to student protests to attacks on Dalit to cow vigilantism to farmers’ issue to Presidential election 2017 and more. But their attempts have only helped BJP gain strength from one election to other.
The Opposition’s latest target is GST, which was unanimously approved by the Parliament last year. Not only this, all states of the country participated in the negotiations on GST rates and even Congress-led UPA had nurtured the GST idea for 10 years. Kumar is against such politics. He apparently wishes the Opposition should persist with an issue and not jump guns for narrow goals.
Politics over Presidential election 2017 started after Kumar extended his support to the NDA candidate Kovind last month. The Congress launched a veiled attack on Kumar, accusing him of not having any principle. Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said people with one principle make one decision and those having multiple principles follow different decisions.
However, Kumar’s decision to support the Presidential candidate not supported by his allies is not something new. In 2012, Kumar had supported Congress pick Pranab Mukherjee even when JD(U) was part of the ruling NDA in Bihar and Kumar the state’s CM. For the 2017 Presidential election, Kumar had initially attempted to unite the Opposition parties to pick a joint candidate. But his efforts failed as the Opposition couldn’t announce their candidate, Meira Kumar, untill NDA came up with the name of Kumar.
On rumours about possible break-up in Bihar’s ruling grand alliance, Kumar’s stand is clear: He is not going to break-up the alliance. But his words leave enough hints for the partners to play their respective games properly or face the music. The Bihar CM has his options open.