By NVONews.Com Political Correspondent,
Patna/ New delhi: When all political parties are busy drawing their strategy for the presidential election the Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar is reminded of the prime ministerial candidate.
Apparently, it may sound absurd but then he has his reasons too. If the Congress can get split on the issue of presidential election in 1969 why can not this opportunity be utilized to distance itself, if not totally break from the NDA.
It is keeping this in mind that Nitish Kumar, while talking to the Economic Times on Tuesday, once again repeated the call for secular candidate for the post of Prime Minister. The target once again was his Gujarat counterpart Narendra Modi. The latter’s supporters in the BJP, for example, Nitish’s own Animal Husbandry Minister, Giriraj Singh, strongly denounced him by stating that when it comes to acquiring power the BJP is not communal.
However, political analysts are of the view that Nitish was reminded of secularism too late in his career. He was not reminded that the BJP is a communal outfit way back in 1996 when his party, the then Samata Party, became the first secular outfit to join hands with the BJP. In the post-Babri Masjid demolition years, save Shiv Sena and Akali Dal, there was no one to ally with the BJP.
In 2002 he was the railway minister in the Vajpayee cabinet when the Godhra tragedy took place. Nitish’s role is known to all. He did not condemn Narendra Modi or the BJP then. In fact he came to power with the help of the BJP in Nov 2005.
It was only on the eve of the 2010 Assembly election that he for the first time singled out Modi for criticism during the National Executive meeting of the BJP in Patna on June 12-13. However, the whole show was later dubbed as stage managed by independent political observers as Nitish wanted to win Muslim votes while the BJP that of Hindus. Had Modi been really so bad he would not have been put up at the state guest house while the rest of the BJP national executive members, apart from L K Advani, stayed in a hotel.
But after the clean sweep of the NDA in the Nov 2010 Assembly eleciton Nitish started showing his true colour. Now he is not only attacking Modi but the BJP itself. His party Janata Dal (United) fought the Assembly election in UP alone and during the Bihar Centenary celebration––be it in Patna, Delhi or Mumbai––the BJP was totally ignored.
All this simply because his party, the Janata Dal (United), managed to win 118 Assembly seats in the House of 243 in the Nov 2010 election. With just four short of majority he does not need the support of the BJP. After having consolidated his position he is now in the position to kick out the BJP. But the latter too has grown quite strong. It won 92 seats and the combine left very few seats for the opposition parties to win.
Nitish thinks that by speaking too much against Modi he would earn the support of Muslims. Besides, there is another strategy. If in any case the Trinamool Congress with 20 MPs really withdraws support, the Janata Dal (United) with the same amount of MPs may lend support to the Congress in future.
In arithmetic he may be strong but Nitish can not deny the ground reality. The BJP and its cadres played enormous role in ensuring his landslide victory. The BJP’s success rate was definitely higher than the Janata Dal (United) in the Nov 2010 Assembly election.
Nitish may be using the presidential election to once again show how different he is from BJP. But the fact is that he had lost a good amount of support in all section of the society in the last one year too. People have started realizing that with the help of media is befooling them. He is taking credit for almost all the central government projects.
Besides, political observers ask as to why the Janata Dal (United) is so eager to support Pranab Mukherjee even before the Congress ever asked for it. Way back in the last week of April its national general secretary, Shivanand Tiwary, called Pranab a good candidate.
On the other hand, the Trinamool Congress leaders are upset that the Congress announced its candidate without consulting it though it is a partner in the UPA. But the Janata Dal (United) never made any such condition.
Nitish is fully aware that his party can not win even a single seat even in neighbouring UP. Even in 81- member Jharkhand Assembly where its tally was five earlier, it came down to two in Dec 2009 polls. He knows his limitations of becoming the Prime Minister of the country. But by repeatedly attacking Narendra Modi he wants to be counted in good book of the Congress.