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Nitish will be back

Bihar chief minister’s resignation, a day after his party Janata Dal (United) lost to its former partner BJP in the 16th Lok Sabha elections, should not be seen as the end of this gritty leader’s political career. Nitish Kumar’s earlier decision, of ending the 17-year-old alliance with BJP and come out of the NDA in protest of the entente’s laying its faith in Narendra Modi, might seem foolhardy to many in hindsight. 

While many in his own assembly blame the man for the rout that JD(U) faced in Bihar, getting just two out of 40 parliamentary seats when BJP ended up bagging 31, the fact that Kumar stuck to its guts and remained true to his secular credentials and principles at the expense of roughing up his political innings must be respected. The current political mandate has been overwhelmingly in favour of Narendra Modi, and not exactly for the local candidates that the party had fielded in Bihar constituencies, even though Kumar has humbly accepted the moral responsibility for the defeat. 

Evidently, the ethical dilemma and political void that have engulfed Bihar assembly now, with Nitish’s resignation and Lalu Prasad Yadav’s Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) not yet making full recovery, are not likely to be resolved easily. Both Kumar and Yadav have ruled out a mutual alliance in the assembly, and given that their total tally does not even begin to comprise one-third of BJP’s parliamentary seat share, it would be a compromise too costly for someone with Kumar’s moral scruples. 

Inasmuch as Nitish Kumar had a fine innings as BiharCM, his next moves will be keenly watched by political pundits. Since JD(U) still has 114 MLAs in Bihar’s 243-strong assembly, a worthwhile successor to Nitish has to be urgently found and negotiations worked out to avoid political and governmental vacuum. Yet, how Nitish makes a comeback and lifts his party from this year’s crushing Lok Sabha defeat will be stuff of tomorrow’s dreams.       
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