Is Nitish Kumar haunted by the ghost of fodder scam?

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With the Rashtriya Janata Dal(RJD) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav's five-year sentencing in 17-year-old fodder scam case, India's one of the longest running corruption cases came to an end. But at the same time, it has not only raised questions on the fate of the RJD but has also left an irreplaceable vacuum in the politics of Bihar.

Now, the future of Bihar politics remains largely in the hands of the Janata Dal United JD(U) chief and the state's chief minister Nitish Kumar, who is also Lalu's main rival.

With Lalu gone in jail,Nitish Kumar has now got a golden opportunity to resurrect a new political alignment and the Congress has also got a good chance to revive its now-decimated vote-base in Bihar.

The 17-year-old alliance between the BJP and JD(U), that had an ugly break-up in June this year, had cast shadows over the political dominance of Nitish Kumar. But, after Lalu's sentencing, the ball is again in the Nitish's court.

With the RJD pushed out of equation, the Congress may try to fill the vacuum created by Lalu's conviction, by forming an alliance with the JD(U).

Nitish Kumar witnessed a lacklustre career in the 1990s.

Although RJD lost power in Bihar in 2005, but Lalu still managed to have strong vote bank consisting of Yadavs and Muslims. And after his sentencing, his wife Rabri Devi and his eldest son, Tejaswi Yadav have vowed to run RJD like UPA president Sonia Gandhi and her son as well as the party's vice president Rahul Gandhi runs the Congress.

The making of Nitish Kumar

Nitish Kumar, who witnessed a lacklustre career in the 1990s, has emerged in the full glare of the political spotlight with his name being mentioned as the possible prime minister.

Nitish, who once used to be Lalu's friend under his chief minister-ship, parted ways with him in 1994 and founded Samata Party and finally formed the JD(U) in 2003 and he slowly, consolidated his image in Bihar.

Nitish who belongs to the smallest of the three major backward castes - Yadavs (making up 13 percent of Bihar's population), Koeris (5 percent) and Kurmis (2.5 percent), with his amiable personality and administrative capabilities, rose to power twice in Bihar in 2005 and in 2010 assembly elections.

The fodder scam ghost haunts Nitish Kumar

But Nitish Kumar's name has also surfaced in the fodder scam. One of the prime accused Shyam Bihari Sinha reportedly confessed to the CBI that he also paid Nitish, (in the Samata Party then) in two installments-first Rs 1.40 crore for election purposes and then Rs 5.50 lakh for shopping by the leader during his trip to Australia.

In this regard, the court has asked the CBI to file its reply by 22 November, but if it fails to come up with a convincing reply, Nitish could be in serious trouble.

Today, even the BJP leader Ravishankar Prasad told a party rally, "Elder brother (Lalu Prasad) is in jail (in the fodder scam) and it is now the turn of the younger brother (Nitish Kumar). His (Nitish's) name figures in the fodder scam and hence he too will have to go to jail."

Now, if the CBI comes up with substantial evidence against Nitish Kumar, then, the two main political parties of Bihar will be decimated and it's political future will be uncertain.

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