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Wednesday, Nov 13, 2019

Why Nitish Kumar will be smiling | HT editorial

Amit Shah’s endorsement of him as the NDA’s CM candidate brings clarity

editorials Updated: Oct 20, 2019 20:17 IST

Hindustan Times
Amit Shah made it clear that the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) would fight the Bihar elections under the leadership of Mr Kumar
Amit Shah made it clear that the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) would fight the Bihar elections under the leadership of Mr Kumar(PTI)
         

The Bihar election is still a year away. But the state has been grappling with political uncertainty. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) conceded to an equal seat-sharing arrangement with its ally, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United), for the Lok Sabha elections. It was clear that the overwhelming mandate — the BJP-led alliance won 39 of the 40 seats in the state — was driven largely by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s appeal. Ever since, Patna has been abuzz with speculation about whether the BJP would go it alone in the assembly polls next year, or whether it will still stick to the alliance. The fact that many in the BJP have been critical of Mr Kumar’s governance added fodder.

This uncertainty has ended for now. In an interview to the TV channel, News 18, BJP president Amit Shah made it clear that the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) would fight the Bihar elections under the leadership of Mr Kumar. This is, at once, both intriguing and rational. It is intriguing because this was the BJP’s best chance in Bihar so far to go to the polls alone, or just with Ram Vilas Paswan, and have a shot at leading the government. The Opposition, especially Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal, is in disarray and the Congress is a marginal player. But it also could well be seen as rational because the BJP may have calculated that allowing an opposition alliance like in 2015 — when Mr Kumar, Mr Prasad and the Congress came together — has risks. It has also perhaps decided to wait it out since Mr Kumar’s aides have privately indicated that this is his last bid at power in the state.

Politics may evolve till the elections. But for now, Mr Kumar will be smiling, and the NDA looks all set to return to power in Bihar.