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Nitish sets the stage for 2014

The Bihar chief minister’s comments will force the UPA and NDA to redo their math. How they deal with Nitish Kumar will be test the mettle of both the Congress and the BJP.

india Updated: Mar 18, 2013 22:30 IST
Hindustan Times
nitish kumar,hindustantimes,news

The run-up to the elections is the time when the allies of the main political formations come into their own.

Hints that they might change their allegiances will be dropped and any meeting between politicians of different hues will come to be imbued with deep meaning.

Bihar’s chief minister has not gone in for any such tangential or stealthy mode of signalling which way he might go. Quite simply, his massive rally in the Capital was to say that he would look favourably on anyone who could give his state special status.

And this will undoubtedly cause a major kerfuffle within the BJP which as of now can only promise but cannot deliver on such a demand.

So, really it is advantage UPA now with the finance minister promising to revisit the special status issue, something it can give if it wants to. That this will open the floodgates for similar demands is another matter.

Mr Kumar was also quick to showcase his development model, no doubt aimed at drawing comparisons with the BJP’s showstopper Narendra Modi’s blueprint which has been touted as being up there in the bright lights.

For the Congress, getting Nitish on board would be a major political coup. It is not likely to rake in seats from UP. In Andhra which was once its stronghold, it is not likely to get the numbers it used to.

Its southern ally the DMK is in the doldrums and also acting recalcitrant on the Lanka Tamils issue. So, the UPA will definitely be shopping for new allies and Nitish Kumar absolutely fits the bill.

The problem will arise with other UPA allies like Lalu Yadav who considers Bihar his stomping ground. All this will require deft political management on the part of the UPA if things move ahead.

Nitish Kumar has been uneasy with the BJP’s desire to project Narendra Modi as a potential prime minister. He has made his reservations clear on several occasions.

His deputy and BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi has gone on record saying that the party would rally around Modi as prime minister, something the chief minister will not endorse.

While Sushil Kumar Modi may term the UPA as a sinking ship, it still seems the only ship under whose flag many political outfits want to sail, and that would seem to include people like Nitish Kumar.

The BJP is going to have to do some serious strategising on its roadmap for the next elections. It is really caught in a cleft stick.

On the face of it, Mr Modi is its most popular and possibly winning choice. But, his is also a name which seems to make some of the NDA allies break out in hives.

How they deal with Nitish Kumar will be test the mettle of both the Congress and the BJP. As of now the odds seem in favour of the Congress.

First Published: Mar 18, 2013 22:27 IST