The growing tension between Jitan Ram Manjhi and Nitish Kumar, the current and former chief ministers of Bihar, respectively, has proved one hard truth and that is: Empowerment is an irreversible process.
Nitish Kumar had picked Manjhi as his successor soon after he suddenly quit the chief minister's post in May last year after Narendra Modi succeeded in his mission to become the prime minister of India and the JD(U) was left in the ruins.
It was a two-edged move by Nitish Kumar for one, it consolidated his image as a leader who believed in social empowerment (Manjhi is a Mahadalit) for a section of the extremely backward caste people were moving towards the BJP and second, it also helped Nitish to avoid meeting the prime minister after losing a prestige battle.
Empowerment is an irreversible process and Nitish Kumar will find it soon
But Manjhi, after his rise in the ranks, began to prove that he also had his own set of ambitions and wanted to come out of Kumar's shadow. He shunted officials who had enjoyed Nitish Kumar's confidence and showed that he had a mind of his own. It was also reported that Manjhi had the support of the NDA camp, something which was bound to add fuel to the growing turmoil.
Supporters of Nitish have begun to sense that the BJP is fishing in the troubled waters now so that the next election is held as early as possible so that the Modi wave can be tested in that corner of the country as well while for Manjhi, who has nothing to lose, it is a favourable situation.
Nitish will be the biggest loser if Manjhi is dethroned now
For even if he is dethroned by a party implosion, he will be a prize catch for the anti-Nitish forces in the next polls as the sympathy wave will be on his side. In the caste-ridden politics of Bihar, that could be a big blow for Nitish Kumar, who already experienced a major setback after ending a 17-year-old alliance with the NDA.
In fighting Modi, Nitish Kumar discovered a new enemy in Manjhi
Nitish Kumar's making of the Frankenstein has proved that empowerment comes with a price and that's perhaps why politicians in India do not prefer to choose outsiders as their political successors and hence the question of dymastic politics becomes relevant. Take for example, the case of Lalu Prasad, the friend-turned-for-turned-friend of Nitish Kumar.
Lalu Prasad didn't nominate his wife as his successor CM without a reason
In 1997, when he was arrested in connection to a fodder scam, the RJD chief decided to make his wife Rabri Devi as his successor. Prasad perhaps knew that handing over the baton to any senior leader in the party could prove boomerang in the future, as it has happened with Nitish Kumar.
Prasad had another advantage during that time. He was still an undisputed leader of the state politics and there was little opposition to create inroads in his party even in his physical absence at 1 Anne Marg in Patna.
Bihar politics is not the same anymore as it was 15 years ago
The situation in Bihar politics is nowhere near that in 2015, thanks to Nitish Kumar's own politics of 'trickling-down empowerment' and the steady rise of the BJP. The force of democracy has deepened in the heartland so much so that it is now impossible for even the architects of the politics of empowerment to put the genie back into the bottle.