Thursday, February 5, 2015

Who's running Bihar?

The theater of the absurd has been playing out in Bihar recently, with incumbent CM Jitan Ram Manjhi, who was appointed as a puppet by former CM Nitish Kumar after the BJP's spectacular victory in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections to deflect the intense pressure on him, has begun to build his own base, much to the chagrin of his master. If the Indian Express is to be believed, Nitish Kumar has tried twice so far to remove his former protege and failed both times.

Next week, once the Delhi elections are out of the way, the final power play is all set. JD(U) president Sharad Yadav, on the insistence of Nitish Kumar and with the permission of his new master, Lalu Yadav, has called for a meeting of the Legislature Party, whose single purpose is to elect Nitish as their new leader and thus, the new CM. In response, Manjhi has already voiced protest publicly, as only the CM can call such a meeting and not the party president. In addition, a case has been filed against Sharad Yadav for alleged casteist comments against Manjhi.

All this means just one thing: even before the so-called Janata Parivar can fight the BJP in November, it will have to fight itself. Nitish Kumar might just have made another spectacular blunder because an entire vote bank, the Mahadalits, that he built up, will be stripped of him if Manjhi revolts openly against him. And yet, Kumar has no greater dream than to defeat Narendra Modi and return to power in Patna and if Manjhi stops him, that would be quite an anti-climax. Obviously, it is not going to happen without a fight - and that fight might just be to the BJP's benefit, if they can play their cards right.

Even more mysterious is what Lalu Yadav is going to do, for he has the biggest ambitions of all, having seen much more power than Nitish and having been out of power longer. In the end, Lalu Yadav may just make a comeback as CM of Bihar, with everything that it brings. 

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