Nitish’s resignation as Bihar CM hits idea of Grand Alliance at national level
Nitish Kumar’s exit from a coalition with RJD’s Lalu Prasad and the Congress underscores the challenges of such pacts, where once rival regional parties attempt joining hands, often as secular coalitions, to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party.india Updated: Jul 27, 2017 01:05 IST
Nitish Kumar’s decision to resign as chief minister on Wednesday dealt a blow to the Congress and the opposition parties that have been trying to cobble up a “Bihar-type” mahagathbandhan, or Grand Alliance, ahead of the 2019 general elections.
Kumar’s exit from a coalition with RJD’s Lalu Prasad and the Congress underscores the challenges of such pacts, where once rival regional parties attempt joining hands, often as secular coalitions, to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party.
“A premise has come to exist that the BJP will win the 2019 elections as well. This is attracting fence sitters and leaders of smaller regional parties. The grand alliance idea at the national level is in complete disarray,” said political scientist CP Bhambri.
Wednesday’s developments indicate that individual political ambitions are difficult to contain in a front based on ideology, and that “anti-BJPism”, a phenomenon that marked the politics of 1990s, has now lost appeal.
Bihar’s Grand Alliance successfully obstructed the march of the Narendra Modi-powered BJP in the November 2015 assembly elections, raising expectations that the “Bihar model” could be replicated at the national level where the dominance of Modi’s BJP has been overwhelming.
The visions were such that Kumar was touted as the opposition’s prime ministerial candidate, a race that he virtually opted out of on Wednesday.
Riding on his “victimhood” status, Prasad is likely to try to rustle together a fresh secular combination with the possible support of Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party and Jiten Ram Manjhi’s Hindustan Awam Morcha (HAM).
If Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) splits on the question of Kumar’s dalliance with the BJP, Prasad might take a shot at installing an RJD government in the state. But the pressure seems to be on the RJD and the Congress to keep the flock together.
A conclave of Opposition leaders will is set for a rally convened by Prasad at Patna’s historic Gandhi Maidan next month. Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav and BSP supremo Mayawati are among the likely participants. It is possible that the trajectory of Opposition politics for the future will get defined after the mega event.
But for the moment, prospects of a “secular alternative” at the national level appear dim.