Kolkata: When you talk about weathermen in Indian politics, the first two names that automatically come to our minds is VC Shukla and Ram Vilas Paswan. Hardly have we seen these two leaders on the Opposition benches during their lifetime. They certainly were adept at jumping the ship at the opportune moment.
Well, the latest on his way to joining the bandwagon seems to be Bihar CM and JD (U) president Nitish Kumar. Having ditched his alliance partners RJD a few years back to join hands with BJP to stay on in the masnad of power, it looks like Kumar now is having second thoughts on his collaboration with the saffron party in his state.
Two developments stir our inquisitiveness – Kumar called on INLD supremo Om Prakash Chautala at Gurugram recently but what augments our anticipation is his statement that a discussion on the alleged Pegasus spyware should be held in the Parliament. What more, he also told news agency ANI that if required a proper investigation should be conducted to unravel the truth.
It comes as a surprise that Kumar is now hobnobbing with Chautala who has openly exhorted opposition leaders to launch a national front against the BJP with an eye on the next Parliamentary polls. Though both Chautala and Kumar are in no mood to read too much into their tete-a-tete claiming it was personal, cynics would smell a rat and you can’t blame them.
Kumar’s open suggestion of a probe into the Pegasus snoopgate that has had the union Government in the dock with the opposition parties disrupting the Monsoon session of the Parliament, raises eyebrows.
Rewind a bit – Kumar opposed the population control draft promulgated by Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath of the BJP and his point of view made headlines. Last year, he was vehemently against the implementation of the National Population Register in Bihar and was keen on a debate on the much-dissected Citizenship (Amendment) Act. He is on the same boat with his bete noire RJD on espousing the need for a caste-based census which signals a change of mind.
So, is Kumar trying to send an olive branch to the anti-BJP camp? It is a bit too early to infer on these lines, but knowing Kumar and his avarice, we should not be caught unawares if he at all parts ways with his alliance partners in the days to come.
Kumar knows he is walking a tightrope running the government with the numbers not strong enough to give him a free run. RJD is the single largest party in the state assembly and even the BJP has more seats than Kumar’s JDU.
With PM Narendra Modi facing flak for his ineptitude in handling the Covid crisis and on several other fronts, the opposition bench has a wherewithal to corner the union government. West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee is zealous enough to mobilise support against Modi and ilk which is gaining momentum.
In view of this, it could be prudent from Kumar’s personal interests’ point of view to close ranks and shift loyalty.
It is pertinent to mention that Kumar may not harbour national aspirations, he would be desperate to cling on to power in his home state. In a bid to stay on, he may not be reluctant to bury the hatchet with RJD, but will Lalu Prasad accept him back into his fold? An indisposed Kumar is still sulking and seems not in the mood to forgive Kumar for his betrayal. However, politics throws strange bedfellows and do not be bewildered if Kumar and Yadav hug and make up.
Kumar in terms of mass appeal may be ahead of Shukla and Paswan, but when it comes to executing his political dreams, he would not shy away from being labelled a turncoat.
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