Twist and turns in Bihar politics continue as Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi resigned from Chief Ministerial post just before the Trust Vote. Manjhi's move came as a big surprise to his mentor and former Chief Minister Nitish Kumar who has been trying hard to make a comeback in the corridors of power.
Trying to strengthen his image which has been eroded recently after his protege Manjhi waged open war against him, Nitish Kumar did a 'Arvind Kejriwal act' in the run up to Delhi assembly election. In a clear cut message he hinted that appointing Manjhi as Bihar CM was a big mistake.
"With folded hands, I apologise to the people of Bihar. It was a mistake to quit the chief minister's post. I am really sorry," Kumar said, hours after embattled Manjhi vacated the CM's chair for Nitish.
It is crystal clear that Nitish was appealing people to re-accept him in the similar manner as people of Delhi accepted Arvind Kejriwal in latest Delhi election.
Killing two birds with single stone
Wary about Mahadalit vote bank which may go with Manjhi after his 'martyrdom', Nitish eloquently attacked his protege and said, "A chief minister does not belong to a particular caste. When he holds a constitutional post, he has to rise above his affiliations".
Apparently, Nitish wanted to convey that devoid of Manjhi, his party has holier than thou attitude. Bihar's 'Vikas Purush' Kumar tried to say that all the recent drama, driving Bihar to political instability, was orchestrated by Manjhi along with the tacit support of the BJP.
JD(U) has spotless record because of which it can be given second chance like Kejriwal, who got huge mandate in Delhi polls.
Bihar politics is a different ball game
Right now, Nitish is being considered as sane man in the power corridors as he has knack of well-calculated politics. But he should understand that politics of two States, Bihar and Delhi is completely different. In contrast to Delhi's politics where people's aspirations decided the fate, in Bihar, caste and religion dominates the politics.
Another factor which may dishearten Kumar is that Kejriwal did not come with past baggage in Delhi election. The fledgling party was considered novice on political pitch unlike Nitish's JDU which is synonymous to 'political Opportunism'. Nitish earned ire of people in Lok Sabha election because his party rocked BJP's boat at the last moment. Moreover, Nitish has no right to take moral high ground as he recently joined hands with bete noire Lalu Yadav whose regime is notorious for 'Jungle Raj' in Bihar.
Will Manjhi's martyrdom outweigh Nitish's moral high ground?
Though Manjhi resigned after days of political drama but it seems the 'leader of mahadalit' has done enough damage to Nitish camp by projecting himself as 'sacrificed goat'.
"There was fear on MLAs faces and I thought I should not put them in trouble by exposing them to Nitish Kumar camp by going ahead with trust vote and decided to quit," stubborn CM said after he resigned.
Since Manjhi took the reins from Nitish Kumar after the Lok Sabha election, former tried his best to become 'messiah of Dalit'. Through his controversial statements, he consolidated his position on this vote-bank (21 pecent) which is considered as a game-changer in any political match in Bihar. Recently, Manjhi had included Dusadh caste in the mahadalit category. Before this , among the 22 scheduled castes in Bihar, 21, except Paswans, were in the Mahadalit category.
In 2007, Nitish Kumar had come to power because of this 'mahadalit votes'. Eying for this crucial chunk of votes, he had set up 'Bihar Mahadalit Vikas Mission' for their development.
Manjhi till the end tried his best to project Nitish as villain and himself as a 'hero'. In recent statements, Mahadalit leader alleged that Nitish wanted to use him as a puppet but he (Manjhi) wanted to work for the prosperity of those who have been deprived for years.
Manjhi may form new party which will be a big challenge to Nitish, Lalu
It is being said that Manjhi may form his outfit in coming days after he faced humiliations at the hands of Nitish and his latest friend Lalu Yadav in recent days. It has been proved now that Manjhi is not a politically novice man. He only takes calculative steps which will bring him political gain in the long run. If Manjhi will form new party and it will be supported by the BJP, Nitish and Lalu camp will really find themselves on the slippery ground. Mahadalit chunk along with the middle class votes will easily destroy formidable force of JD(U), RJD and Congress.
BJP is in win-win situation at the moment but needs to thread cautiously
The biggest gainer in this political wrangling is the Saffron party. Apparently, party only wanted to use Manjhi card to counterbalance JD(U). The more Manjhi will criticize Nitish, it will put BJP in advantageous condition. Experts say that the saffron party which recently learnt big lesson in the Delhi election will put every step in calculative manner. Party knows that if Nitish will be proved villain in this whole drama then it will easily get through in coming assembly election in the State. But party needs to thread cautiously as overconfidence may jeopardize party's fate as it was done in the Delhi election.
Will Nitish apology replenish the 'trust deficit'?
It seems Nitish is trying his best to prove that he will do wonders in Bihar. He knows that time is running fast and he has lots to do to make the ends meet. Within these five to six months, he will have to overcome the anti-incumbency against the ruling government. Moreover, Nitish has to justify that why he removed mahadalit leader Manjhi unceremoniously.
Against the backdrop of all these issues, it can be said that Nitish Kumar really have to work tooth and nails to put his party back in driver's seat.