After blocking the BJP’s juggernaut in Bihar, JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar is being increasingly seen in political circles as the face of a possible national alternative of regional parties to take on the NDA in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Many chief ministers have won three consecutive terms, but the Kumar-led grand alliance victory in Bihar could bring far-reaching political ramifications for India’s politics in the coming months and years.
The Bihar polls were widely viewed as a direct fight between Kumar and Prime Minister Narendra Modi who addressed around 30 mega rallies, the most by any PM in any state election.
It is well known in Congress circles that the party’s vice-president, Rahul Gandhi, is also an admirer of Kumar and that was instrumental in projecting the JD(U) leader as the face of development in Bihar.
Though several Third Front experiments have failed in the last 15 years, regional satraps could give it another shot at after the massive grand alliance win in Bihar.
Hinting at the possibility of such an alliance, Kumar told reporters in Patna that the Bihar results demonstrated a “desire among the people of India to put up a powerful political alternative”.
The success of the grand alliance also shows that old political paradigms are changing. “After the success of Bihar experiment, joint ventures and mergers will be the order of the day between old political rivals,” a political observer predicted.
Leaders of parties, including the Samajwadi Party and the Nationalist Congress Party, which withdrew from the grand alliance at the eleventh hour, would now be forced to review their positions.
After the crushing loss in Delhi this year, the Bihar outcome has further bruised the BJP which was on a winning streak after the sweeping mandate in the 2014 parliamentary polls and successive victories in Maharashtra, Haryana and Jharkhand.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and her Delhi counterpart, Arvind Kejriwal, had already come out in support of Kumar’s challenge to the BJP-led NDA and now the process of building an alternative alliance at the national level is likely to pick up pace during the upcoming winter session of Parliament.