Grand political tamasha
With an evergreen and apparent conjunction of politics and legality in Bihar, the recent CBI raids against RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav and his family members appears to be heading towards a rancorous climax between RJD and JD (U), with a consequent parting of ways. In the backdrop of the CBI investigating corruption cases and filing FIRs against Lalu's family, especially against his son Tejashwi, Bihar's Deputy CM, the RJD leader has said his son won't resign as the entire issue was bogus- nothing, but political vendetta. Causing a bigger suspense in this ongoing political drama, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar didn't endorse this on Tuesday and instead gave the RJD four days to clarify its position. Interestingly, Kumar has chosen to be the judge of any explanations that may come from the RJD, assuming this does materialise itself. Without having any substantial basis to decide whether these charges are sustainable or not, as the court of law is yet to pronounce anything in this connection, Kumar perhaps has his eyes set on all permutations and combinations to ensure the safety of his government as well as his 'Mr. Clean' image.
So, what will the Chief Minister do if the CBI charge-sheets the Deputy CM before the deadline expires? Will he duck this BJP bouncer citing the political precedent set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi who didn't ask Uma Bharti to resign as Minister although she has been charge-sheeted in the Ayodhya case? Or, will he dump RJD for a marriage of convenience with BJP? This possibility has been in the making, simmering since the cancellation of bail and arrest of don-turned-politician Mohammad Shahabuddin, a close aide, and friend of Lalu Prasad. With the Bihar government unwilling to challenge the cancellation of the bail, the cracks have started exhibiting between the two parties and the fate of the alliance heading towards an inevitable split has reappeared on the cards.
After JD(U) chose to support the NDA Presidential nominee, its silence now on Lalu's woes could see a bigger fracture within Bihar's ruling coalition. JD(U) and RJD may part ways in the middle of their tenure. After all, Nitish's good governance image sits uneasily next to Lalu's graft cases. However, there's no denying that Lalu still commands the loyalty of the Yadav constituency in Bihar. He hopes to play a crucial role in stitching together a grand opposition coalition against BJP for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. He's trying to bring SP's Akhilesh Yadav and BSP's Mayawati together. Now, significant questions are making the rounds regarding the raids being carried out under the instructions of the BJP led government, and on the suggestion of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar himself. Kumar only required an excuse to break the existing partnership with Lalu; now, it has been offered just that on a decorated tray by the BJP government at the Centre. Can there be a stronger ground than the CBI raids to explain the break-up with the RJD? The lost and found love between the BJP and the JD(U) points to this motive. Going by the numbers of both the parties in the Bihar Assembly, there is a possibility of the two combining to form a government. JD(U) with 71 seats and the BJP with 53 seats add up to a little over half of the total strength of the Assembly. Lalu is going to be left in the roll despite the RJD having the largest number of 80 seats in the Assembly. There is thus no scope for the RJD because, even if Congress with 21 seats and other independents do step up and extend their support, the numbers still do not add up for forming a government. As a result, the marriage of the BJP and JD(U) is on the cards, but not before the usual drama of 'sleeping with the enemies' – a hallmark of Indian politics.
One should not forget that making strange 'political' bedfellows is not a new phenomenon for Nitish. He had earlier tangoed with BJP, then broken away with his party protesting against Narendra Modi being made the Prime Ministerial candidate, to go on to allying with the RJD, and then again, now, attaching himself to the very person who he had publicly despised – Narendra Modi. It happens only on the Silver Screen! Or, in the grand Indian Political Tamasha!