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Business News/ Opinion / Online Views/  Nitish Kumar lays out a new game plan
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Nitish Kumar lays out a new game plan

Under rising pressure in Bihar, Nitish Kumar is setting ground to put onus of the state’s backwardness on the Centre

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar has realized that his pet theme—development—will no longer play in favour of him in Bihar, where his government has already started facing the typical issues of lacklustre bureaucracy and corruption in the administration. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint (Ramesh Pathania/Mint)Premium
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar has realized that his pet theme—development—will no longer play in favour of him in Bihar, where his government has already started facing the typical issues of lacklustre bureaucracy and corruption in the administration. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint
(Ramesh Pathania/Mint)

After a few subtle hints and denials, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar has finally showed the world that he has arrived—to play the role of a king or a king maker.

The Bihar chief minister is losing ground in the state, and had too many targets to aim at. He had to project himself as a formidable contender for the top post, in competition with Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi; match his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ally’s aggressive posturing in Bihar; and, most importantly, counter the odds against him ahead of the 2015 state assembly elections.

Kumar has always been a shrewd politician. His shrewdness is usually coated with modesty, unlike his Gujarat counterpart. While Modi is trying to be the flag bearer of the developed states, the urban middle class and aspirational youth, Kumar is building his appeal with people who are backward, both economically and in terms of caste, but who are stronger, more powerful and more influential in terms of electoral politics.

In his speech at a New Delhi rally on Sunday, the Bihar chief minister often referred to states such as West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh. He has told them that special status to Bihar would also be helpful to them, indicating that he is bearing the torch for them and supporting him would serve the cause of states that are lagging behind.

Kumar’s rally in the national Capital, without any representatives from his ally, was also a clear message to the BJP. He is aware that the hype that surrounded him when he returned to power with a landslide majority in 2010 is no longer there. He can no longer snub the BJP, which is getting aggressive by the day in the state, while his arch rival Lalu Prasad is also gaining lost ground.

Nitish Kumar is in no position to even boast that he can go solo in the state for the 2015 state polls. By sending clear signals that he is going to be one of the key players in a prospective political realignment, and that he is not averse to changing sides after the 2014 national elections, Kumar has done his bit to leave his ally nervous.

Kumar has been an effective chief minister, and he strongly believes his future is closely linked to Bihar’s future. The chief minister also realizes that his pet theme—development—will no longer work in his favour in Bihar, where his government has already started facing the typical issues of a lacklustre bureaucracy and corruption in the administration. So, he is preparing the ground to put the onus of the state’s backwardness on the central government.

Now that he is passionately demanding special status for Bihar, as well as a special financial package for the state, he can easily blame the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government in New Delhi for not supporting his attempts to save the state. So, if his game plan for 2014 does not work, he has a plank to seek one more chance from the voters in Bihar.

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Published: 18 Mar 2013, 11:10 AM IST
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