Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Political chameleon: Paltu Chacha and the art of somersaulting

Nitish Kumar practises politics of promiscuity, he will be remembered as an agile acrobat Prime Minister Modi and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar
Prime Minister Modi and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar being garlanded during an election rally at Paliganj in Patna on Wednesday. Image Credit: PTI

Nitish Kumar, who would like to remain Bihar Chief Minister for life, has one outstanding skill. He is an excellent piggy back rider.

And despite his assiduously cultivated image as a rare heartland politician with a “conscience”, the aforementioned conscience seems to be pretty opportunistic and selective.

The death of 162 children last month in Bihar due to acute encephalitis on his watch did not seem to bother him, the rains causing their annual havoc saw Kumar indifferent and two days ago as three men were lynched on suspicion of cattle theft, Kumar actually defended the killers.

Perhaps “Susshsan” babu (good administrator), another myth cultivated by Kumar, who fancies himself as the man who ended the dreaded “jungle raj”in Bihar, is currently in hibernation as his current partner, the BJP, has a warped attitude towards cattle lynching.

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Kumar practices the politics of promiscuity. He was in an alliance with the BJP for years, even part of Atal Behari Vajpayee’s Cabinet, waging war against Lalu Prasad Yadav’s RJD, till he somersaulted to ally with him and the Congress.

Yet another 180 degree turn saw him jump back into Narendra Modi and Amit Shah’s arms, where despite his supposed discomfiture with Modi and his supposed secular soul, he is currently nestled snugly.

The Fat Decimator System

Perhaps, Kumar, had to justify the lynching because just one day earlier, it came out that he had told the state CID to snoop on and keep tabs on RSS leaders in Bihar.

Kumar does not like the reality of his hard boiled politics to be made public. He would like to carry on the fantasy of a clean politician devoted to public service and who is incidentally the only politician who is currently fit to be prime minister in India.

Kumar has barely four per cent of even the Bihar vote share, which is the share of the Kurmi community to which he belongs. Hence he is forced to do the multiple piggy back rides. Yet for the past 25 years, Kumar has had one singular burning ambition – to be the prime minister of India. Coincidentally, he and his greatest rival turned current benefactor, Modi, were both chief ministers at the same time in Bihar and Gujarat respectively.

Kumar made a fetish of dislike for Modi. Once he memorably cancelled a dinner for the BJP because they had put up posters of him and Modi in Bihar. Kumar refused to allow Modi to campaign in Bihar despite the alliance.

Yet now Kumar is not remotely squeamish about being in bed with Modi. His famously expressionless face betrays no emotion as he does business with Modi and Shah.

Modi in fact is the more honest of the two. Unlike Kumar he has never had any pretense to his politics. And now he is busy cutting Kumar to size. First Kumar had to give up his precious prime ministerial dreams, which were brutalised by an encounter with reality.

Next Modi refused to give in to his equal leader and ally fantasy by allocating him one, yes one, ministerial birth.

In a state like Bihar which admires “Daabang” (strong) politicians, this was cruel to Kumar, exposing him as a man who could not get or share the spoils of power.

These days Kumar is shorn of all pretensions and any ideology. He sticks like a limpet to the chair, all chicanery exposed by the merciless Modi politics.

Modi and Shah have ensured that Kumar and his party are now very much the junior partner in Bihar. Kumar now has nowhere to go. He tried for another somersault but, was vetoed by Lalu’s son Tejaswi Yadav, who refused to accept “Paltu Chacha” (somersault uncle) back.

Kumar will go down in history as an agile acrobat of Indian politics. The most opportunistic of them all as his reality catches up with his fantasy projection. Kumar should have been more honest like his new protege Prashant Kumar who calls himself “ideology agnostic”. Kumar has one belief: power at any cost

Swati Chaturvedi shirttail, Swati Chaturvedi intro, Swati Chaturvedi
 Credit: Gulf News

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