8 Defining Features of Nitish Kumar You Cannot Miss
Appeasement, near authoritarian leadership style and other reasons why you must be wary of Nitish Kumar.
With the national attention being focused on the upcoming assembly polls of Bihar, once again it is heartening to see the political executives in a full-throttle action mode. Rhetoric, value-loaded diatribe and personal attacks are determined to set the electoral narrative of the Indian autumn. This piece is just a modest attempt to deconstruct the hugely contradictory personality of Nitish Kumar, who was once hailed as a ‘Vikas-Purush’, and is now playing ball in the arms of Lalu Prasad Yadav (the man who single-handedly brought infamy to Bihar). Not many will dispute when I state a fact that, Bihar as a state lost an entire generation under the whimsical Jungleraj of Lalu Prasad Yadav.
Now with this strange bonhomie, it has becomes imperative for the civil society to analyze the attribute of the leader being pitched as a secular Samaritan willing to roadblock the path of development and economic growth in the eastern corridor.
1. Caste Categorization for Electoral Consolidation
The most infamous decision of Nitish Kumar in his first tenure as the Chief-Minister was the categorization and sub-categorization of Scheduled Castes into Dalit and Maha-Dalit and Other Backward Classes further into Most Backward Castes and Extremely Backward Castes. This was done purely on the behest of cultivating political dividends. It brought legitimacy to the phenomena of exploitation of social cleavages already dominant in the rural set-up and semi-political discourses.
2. Established Anti-Dalit Credentials
Identity-related violence has seen an upsurge during the second tenure of Nitish Kumar. The most obvious implication of caste-categorization was felt in the rural hinterland of the state. Paswans, a huge section of the Scheduled Caste was singled out and excluded from the benefits availed by the other castes falling under the same constitutional category. The sole reason behind keeping Paswans out of this was Nitish’s personal animosity with Ram Vilas Paswan, who apparently did not let him become the Chief-Minister of the state in the elections of 2005. This reflects his arrogance and to what extreme he can go to satisfy his personal ego. Paswans with or without Ram Vilas Paswan have decided to be with the BJP and teach Nitish a lesson in the legislative assembly polls.
3. Unceremonious Removal of Jitan Ram Manjhi
You may say that this is an extension of the earlier pointer, but the act displays his feudal mindset. His attempt to salvage the loss in general election went futile after his handpicked successor disobeyed him and wanted to work independently. The way Nitish treated the office of Chief-Minister is another example of his tremendous arrogance. Nitish was simply expecting Manjhi to keep the chair warm until he pleases to resume the office. Though many political commentators including myself took the succession of Manjhi on its face value as a strategic masterstroke, but the camaraderie exploded once Manjhi continued at the helm.
4. Unconstitutional Appeasement of Minorities
This again is a remarkable feature of Nitish’s personality that largely went unnoticed by the mainstream media during the last decade of his rule. Sops were doled in the name of minority institutions apart from the belligerent attempts to sport skullcaps at the much-celebrated Iftar in the Chief-Minister’s residence financed by the state treasury.
5. Fear of Electoral Battle
This goes as a public knowledge in Bihar. Having lost many electoral battles on the ground, Nitish is privy of his field prowess. Declaring that he will not be contesting polls this year further emboldens this belief. He has publicly made this announcement citing that it may concentrate his attention on a single seat instead of diversifying to the length and breadth of the state. Not reading much into this declaration, it is a straightforward admission of his impervious nature with direct electoral battles.
6. Lust for Power
The crass, opportunistic alliance with his onetime bête-noire Lalu Prasad Yadav speaks volumes on this pointer. Nitish, who emerged victorious after fifteen years of Lalu regime, was broadly given the mandate through repeatedly raking the ghosts of Jungle Raj. His eternal interest in occupying the Prime Minister’s office too waned in 2014; it was this interest that drove him towards sabotaging the interest and future of his regional political outfit Janta Dal (United).
7. Highly Individualistic Leadership
Nitish’s highly individualistic and self-centered leadership has resulted in complete absence of any second rung leadership in the party. His antagonism for dissent has proved lethal for internal democracy within the party. He claims to be a democrat with no familial interests in politics. Nurturing leaders such as Anant Singh with unquestionable criminal antecedents has been a regular affair in the provincial party.
8. Egoistic and Arrogance Personified
The moment Nitish returned the amount given for resettlement and rehabilitation by the Gujarat Government for the victims of Kosi flood, his ego and arrogance came to define his political existence. Furthermore, the cancellation of dinner for legislators only because of publication of one his photograph with the then Chief Minister of Gujarat Sh. Narendra Modi deeply reflected his dictatorial approach in politics.
The idea behind this piece is to clear the air on the supposed unblemished image of Nitish Kumar. The portrayal of clean politics and his projection as a man of development is a camouflage of the highest order. No public representative in a democracy should be impervious to public scrutiny.