Nitish & Congress: Will their brazen opportunism work?

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The process of polarisation in Indian politics was complete once the JD(U) decided to quit the NDA. But what has stunned the close observers of Indian politics most is the way Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has conducted himself.

From a leader who showered unconditional praise for Gujarat counterpart Narendra Modi and even attacked the Congress for overdoing the Gujarat riots of 2002 to corner the latter to one who disapproved of Modi's leadership and shamelessly accepting the Congress's support to prove that his government is safe. The way Kumar and Congress turned into close friends overnight reflects the brazen standards of hypocrisy that have come to engulf the Indian polity today.

nitish

Nitish needs Cong at Centre, latter needs him in Bihar

The funny side of the evolving tie between Nitish and Congress is that while the former requires the latter more at the Centre, the latter requires the former more at the state.

Till a few days ago, Nitish was found flaying the Congress and holding it responsible for all ills that have plagued the nation. He had said a couple of months ago that the Congress's credibility was completely eroded and there was no chance of it returning to power.

When Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram had assured to look into Nitish's demand for special status for Bihar during his Budget speech this year, Nitish was not much moved and even said that it was Bihar's right and no one was doing it a favour.

A few months earlier, when Mamata Banerjee withdrew from the UPA and reduced into a working minority, it was the same Nitish who remarked that he would support the side which granted his state the special status.

Congress kept Nitish in good humour

The Congress kept Nitish in a good humour by sanctioning huge funds for the state, more so after the DMK also pulled out on the question of Tamils in Sri Lanka.

No wonder that the opportunist in Nitish decided to dump a 17-year-old ally one fine morning and tilt in favour of the party which had lost its credibility to rule the country.

If Modi is communal, then who in BJP is secular?

And he did it because the BJP made Modi the chief of its 2014 Lok Sabha poll campaign panel chief. His party has later said that it could reconsider returning to the NDA if senior leader like L K Advani returned to the helm of the party again. Quite a ridiculous viewpoint. If Nitish and his party consider Modi to be a communal figure, then who do they think as a secular figure in the BJP? Advani?

One, however, doesn't know if there is a backroom dealing between Advani and Nitish to prevent the common enemy called Narendra Modi from rising more into prominence.

Congress's happy times

As far as the Congress is concerned, it is perhaps the happiest lot following the BJP-JD(U) divorce. It has reasons to be happy. Nitish Kumar's plan to go alone in national politics won't be a realistic strategy and his Samata Party experience proves that.

The leader will require a strong force to tackle the BJP's challenge in the state and none but the Congress is best-placed to play the role. Once a strong critic of Nitish on the questions of corruption, Naxalism and law and order situation in the state, the Congress has now gladly transformed its stance towards the JD(U) leader.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has even called him a ‘secular' leader and Nitish has proudly accepted the ‘honour'. The Congress has also backed Nitish in the trust vote in the assembly on Wednesday.

It knows that it is the best chance to make a comeback in Bihar where it has been reduced to a marginal player. It is ready to make amends to the decision of supporting Lalu Prasad in the past which led to its collapse in the state.
Adopting a ‘go slow policy', the Congress is aiming to create a Uttar Pradesh-like situation in Bihar where both the local adversaries will be supporting it at the Centre.

Both Mulayam and Mayawati have helped the UPA to evade threats whenever it was required and now it is looking to get the backing of both Lalu and Nitish from Bihar. The expansion of UPA will make it difficult for the shrinking NDA and Modi, the Congress presumes.

But politics is not a simple subject. It will require an electoral test to see whether Nitish's flip-flop has been accepted by the electorate in the right spirit.

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