The seven-year itch with the Nitish Kumar government appears to have begun in Bihar. Black seems to be its favourite colour — especially when greeting the CM on his adhikar yatra. Simultaneously, crowds are swelling at the parivartan yatra of Lalu Prasad — whose RJD enjoyed a 15-year stint in the state till 2005.
The first stirrings have already muddled Kumar’s rallying point— special status for the state. Somewhat on the backfoot, he is now talking of the “misrule of the Lalu-Rabri regime”, something he had done before Bihar voted him to power in November 2005.
The government’s discomfiture also shows in the crackdown against the protesters at the CM’s rallies – mostly “fixed pay” teachers demanding “prescribed pay scale”.
After the violence in Khagaria on September 27, teachers were arrested and diversions organised – painting competitions and special meetings – to keep them busy elsewhere. To keep the black flags away, the government even banned “anything black” at the rallies. “What about black hair? Are they going to get people to shave their heads too?” quipped Lalu to cheers from the audience.
The RJD sounds almost smug. Its change of fortune comes after a triple rout. Voted out of power in 2005, it got steamrolled in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, winning just four of the 40 seats. And |unrelenting, the people gave it only 22 of the 243 assembly seats in 2010.
RJD spokesperson Ram Kripal Yadav ascribes the good times to the government’s faux pas, like “failure to deliver on promises and repressive measures adopted against protesters”.
As for the “repressive measures”, not all Kumar’s leaders seem to be on the same page with his administration. JD(U) MP and national spokesperson Shivanand Tiwari believes the measures are counter-productive.
But does he think the seven-year itch will translate to a divorce? “I don’t think all this presages a comeback by Lalu Prasad,” Tiwari said. “When the time comes to vote, people will opt for one with fewer flaws. That's when Nitish Kumar will score”.