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Beginning Of An End

Beginning Of An End

Sometimes intelligent and shrewd individuals take wrong decisions. The decision of Nitish Kumar to realign with BJP appears to be an imprudent one with far reaching consequences not only for himself but also for the national politics in India. By joining hands with Narendra Modi’s BJP he has put an end to his Prime Ministerial ambition. As long as Narendra Modi is the Prime Minister of India Nitish Kumar has to be satisfied with the post of the CM of Bihar and that too is uncertain. If BJP gets more seats than that of the JDU in the next assembly election in Bihar there is no guarantee that the BJP will offer the post of CM to Nitish Kumar, however efficient an administrator he is.  Thus Nitish Kumar has risked his own political future. 

It has been a shrewd strategy of BJP to align with the regional parties and gradually emaciate them. Ran Ayyub has rightly commented in her article in NDTV News, ‘ What Nitish Kumar Has Put at Risk with Re-Choosing the BJP’, “Perhaps if Nitish had sought an opinion from the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra, he would have known that this is the BJP's master tactic in not just eroding his popularity in Bihar but also at the national level. In Maharashtra, the BJP has stymied the Shiv Sena and the MNS to a junior role with the increasing possibility of an absolute majority in the 2019 state election”. One wonders why Nitish Kumar walked into the trap laid by the BJP. It is unlikely that Modi and Amit shah will forget the insult heaped on them by Nitish.

For many years Nitish Kumar assiduously had cultivated an image of a politician with integrity and he was known as Susashan Babu. Among all the opposition leaders, he was one considered to be of Prime Ministerial material. But his latest decision to join hands with BJP has tarnished that image and he lost all his credibility. He will be remembered in the annals of history as one of the most opportunist politicians.  Instead of taking the support of BJP to remain in power he should have recommended to the governor the dissolution of the assembly and holding fresh election.

A good number of political commentators have described his decision to join with BJP unethical and opportunistic. “The 2015 Bihar election was won by the mahagatbandhan on an anti-BJP, anti-Hindutva platform. If now Nitish felt the Yadavs were a liability, he should have asked the governor to dissolve the assembly, and fought elections afresh, in alliance with BJP if he so chose”, said historian, Ramchandra Guha in an interview with Nalin Mehta of the Times of India.  “This political somersault by Nitish Kumar, who vowed two years ago that Prime Minister Modi wouldn’t be allowed to step into Bihar, is actually akin to political corruption. It’s the mandate given to the RJD-Janata Dal (U)-Congress alliance that has been sabotaged midway”. "He cheated and betrayed the people of the state who gave him massive mandate. He played dirty politics. He just looked for an excuse to defame us and join the NDA," said Tejashwi Yadav. Ms. Mayawathi said the people of Bihar have been betrayed with state Chief Minister Nitish Kumar switching sides from the grand alliance to the NDA.

The accusation of Nitish that the Yadav family is corrupt does not cut ice. When he aligned with Lalu and formed mahagatbandhan was he not aware of the corruption cases going on against Lalu Prasad? Did he not know that Lalu was disqualified to contest elections for ten years in the fodder scam case? How will Nitish justify his actions and statements in the past? Nitish was the man who shot a scathing reply to Modi's "Jungle Raj" jibe in Bihar by asking Modi if Gujarat was a " Mangal Raj" in 2002. He had told the country in 2012 that Modi  did not observe  Raj-dharma  in Gujarat. He had refused Modi's help during the Kosi floods in 2010 when the latter was the Chief Minister of Gujarat.

The decision of Nitish Kumar does not appear to be a sudden one. His cozying with BJP started when he supported the demonetization of rupees one thousand and five hundred notes by the Modi government.  This was followed by his party’s support to the presidential candidate of BJP, even though he had suggested to Sonia Gandhi to put up a common presidential candidate by all opposition parties.  Duplicity was evident in his statements and actions prior to the final act of betrayal.

The departure of Nitish Kumar has further weakened the already demoralized opposition.  The omissions and commissions of the main opposition party, Congress has contributed to the disarray in the opposition ranks. The confusion with regard to the leadership is the prime reason for the moribund state of the Congress. Rahul Gandhi has proved that he does not have the capacity to lead the party when it is going through an existential crisis. According to Ramchandra Guha, “Rahul is Amit Shah’s greatest ally”.  As long as Rahul Gandhi remains at the helm of the Congress there is no hope of revival of the Congress and forging opposition unity in view of the election in 2019.  Sonia Gandhi will be rendering a great service to the nation by facilitating the appointment of a congress man, who has mass base and the capacity to challenge Narendra Modi, as the PM candidate for 2019 and building consensus among the opposition parties on the basis of a common minimum programme and an alternative development narrative based on the core values of the Indian Constitution and responding to the aspirations of the ordinary Indians.

According to the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, politics without principles is a sin. Only a handful of politicians in India heed to Gandhiji’s advice in practicing politics with principle.  What one observes in all political parties is full play of political opportunism. MLAs and MP are purchased. It has become a common phenomenon in the Indian political scenario that in order to escape the poaching of MLAs by rival parties they are often lodged in resorts in faraway places. Prior to the election to Rajya Sabha in Gujarat 44 Congress MLAs were transported to Karnataka and were kept in a resort on the outskirts of Bangalore. Congress alleged that BJP was poaching its MLAs.

Training the young generation in enlightened leadership is a solution to the erosion that is taking place in the field of politics.  The young people in general have an impression that politics is a dirty game; but in fact the players are dirty and not the game. Every week forty to fifty high school students come to USM (Universal Solidarity Movement) Indore for leadership training. On the very first day they are asked to share their dreams. Very rarely any student has said that he/she would join politics. Moreover the students, especially those who are from the English medium schools, have contempt for the politicians.  During the training the students are made aware of the need for enlightened leadership in various spheres of life, especially in politics. The students are asked to prepare a speech on the topic, “I am the Prime Minister of India: My Vision, Goals and Policies” and deliver it before the whole group. As a result of this exercise the participating students reflect on the challenges faced by India and the responses needed. Their attitude changes and they become convinced that instead of cursing the corrupt politicians visionary persons with character and competence have to enter politics.

One of the primary objectives of education should be developing leadership with character and competence. Unfortunately education in India has degenerated into preparing children for a career or a high paying employment. As a result, the number of people excelling in various fields like sports, fine arts, literature, politics etc. is decreasing. The process of education should create an interest in the students to become aware of the developments taking place in the society, particularly in politics by reading newspapers and news magazines. The schools and colleges also have to organize from time to time leadership training so that the nation will have excellent leaders in politics as well as in other fields. Developing visionary leaders from the school days onwards is the solution to purge the game of politics and reduce the number of opportunist leaders who betray the people.

(Published on 07th August 2017, Volume XXIX, Issue 32)