Bihar politics revolves around CM Nitish Kumar

Er. Prabhat Kishore

On 15th August 2021, India created history with its 75th anniversary of independence “Amrit Mahotsava”. Another history has been created in Bihar, where Chief Minister Nitish Kumar completed 5474 days in power surpassing the earlier record of Sri Krishna Singh, the first CM of  Bihar.  Since more than  one & half decades, the politics in Bihar is revolving around Nitish Kumar. In the Vidhan Sabha election 2020, Bihar has once again decided to march forward under his leadership. The NDA, lead by him, has returned to power securing 125 seats out of 243  and he became CM for the record 7th time. 

Nitish Kumar, who hails from Kurmi   Kisan family of Kalyanbigha in Harnaut (Nalanda), has started his political journey in 1974; when the student movement led by Jai Prakash Narayan was evolved. Then studying in Bihar College of Engineering (now NIT) at Patna, he fully devoted himself to the revolution. He was detained under MISA   in 1974 and during emergency in 1975. In 1977, he contested the Vidhan Sabha election from Harnaut constituency against veteran Socialist Party leader Bhola Prasad Singh, but could not succeed. He again lost the 1980 election to Arun Singh, who had been wrongly acquitted in the Belchhi   massacre. In the 8th   Lok Sabha election 1984, Sri Dharamvir Singh, veteran Congress leader and ex-minister in the Indira Gandhi Government lost to an incumbent of Congress (I) in the sympathy wave after the assassination of Indira Gandhi. There was great resentment in public due to the defeat of Dharamvir   Babu in Harnaut   &   Chandi segments. Nitish has campaigned for him in the Lok Sabha election. This helped Nitish to   get elected to the Vidhan Sabha in 1985 in his third attempt, after which his political graph boomed  sharply. 

He was appointed as the President of the Yuva   Lok Dal in 1987 and the secretary general of the newly formed Janata Dal in 1989. In 1989, 1991, 1996, 1998, 1999 he was elected to Lok Sabha from Barh Constituency and in 2004 from Nalanda constituency. In the Central government, led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, he served as Minister of State (Agriculture) in 1990, Cabinet minister (Railway) in 1998, surface transport minister in 1999, agriculture minister in 1999 and Railway minister in 2001. 

Nitish was the man, who influenced legislatures to elect Laloo as the leader of the legislature party after the demise of Karpoori Thakur, ex-CM and as CM when he Janata Dal came to power in 1990. He was famous as “Chanakya” of Bihar politics. Nitish and Laloo both were termed as the right & left arms of Devi Lal in Bihar; but when the Mandal commission report was implemented, they supported V.P. Singh.

Janata Dal had come to power on certain promises to the people. Nitish presented various project works to State government for implementation, but now they were no longer Laloo’s priority. He sidelined the suggestions and started making loose comment about him. Nitish Kumar was gradually cornered and it became unbearable to survive with Laloo. The aggressive rally of Kurmi  Samaj and Lav-Kush Sammelan in 1994  was the sign of resentment among non-Yadav sections of the society against the regime. Nitish joined the rally in late hour and recognized that opportune time had come to fight. Voices were also raised from other small artisan & landless communities for their upliftment and power sharing. 

The Samata Party was formed in 1994 under the leadership of veteran socialist George Fernandes. Nitish Kumar was projected as CM candidate in the 1995 election ,  but the Party flopped. After due deliberations, the BJP-Samata Party alliance came into existence and its positive impact was seen in the coming   Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections. In the 2000 election, no Party got an absolute majority and Nitish   was appointed CM by the then Governor. But he did not succeed to gather majority support from the MLAs and resigned. After the fall of the NDA government led by Vajpayee  in 2004, he fully devoted himself to Bihar and led several “Yatra” against the misrule of State govt. In the November 2005 election, the NDA got full majority under his leadership and he took oath as CM. Since then he is the CM, except 278 days of his nominee successor Jitan Ram Manjhi.

Nitish Kumar kept himself away from casteism and family coterie. He marched forward with balanced social engineering to keep the all community as against “MY” combination of RJD and “Upper caste” of Congress, BJP or Communists. He always preferred other castes in the Bureaucracy as well as in the Party, even at the cost of the genuine rights of his own castemen. Earlier seniormost IAS officers K.D. Sinha and others have not been made Chief Secretary because they belong to his caste. IPS officer Ashish Ranjan Sinha stepped down from DGP due to same reason. Despite being the backbone of the Party, his castemen never got due share in candidature of Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, Vidhan Sabha or Vidhan   Parishad and on ministerial berths. Extremely backward castes, comprising about 30% of the population, backward Pasmanda Muslims, Mahadalits and women have always been his top priority. In 2020 Bihar Election actually the political war was not “NDA vs MG” but was “Nitish vs All” and these  depressed  sections of the society, called “Silent Voters” stood firmly behind Nitish in the arena, even when BJP’s core upper caste voters betrayed him.

Since the early days of his political life, Nitish has ambition to do welfare works, if got power. When he took the charge of CM, the situation in all sectors was alarming. He prioritized his works for good governance. To tackle law & order situation, fast track courts were set up and criminals had to go behind the bars. He gave impetus to the development and re-orient infrastructure sector activities in all corners of the State. Roads, bridges, bypasses, schools/colleges/hospitals/police stations/panchayat buildings were built and maintained. In education sector, the Drop out rate in schools, particularly of girls, was very high. Various schemes such as Mukhyamantri Cycle Yojana/Poshak   Yojana/Kishori   Swasthya   Karyakram were launched to attract the boys & girls. Primary school within 1 KM radius, upper primary school in 3 KM radius of the village and high school in every panchayats have been opened.  In the higher secondary sector, inter classes were detached from colleges and attached to high schools, for the convenience of the rural masses. Engineering/Medical/ITI institutions have been opened in backwards areas. To meet financial crisis for higher education, Student Credit Card scheme for soft loan upto   Rs 4 lakh have been launched. Before 2005, uninterrupted power supply to people, even in urban areas, was a dream. Its production as well as distribution were planned and now there is sufficient electricity available to the people.

Gender empowerment and strengthening have been an   ambitious goal of  Nitish. Apart from Poshak   & Cycle Yojana in schools, 50 % reservation in Panchayats and Local bodies and  35% reservation in government jobs for women, Mukhyamantri   Kanya   Utthan   Yojana for phase wise development of girls, Jeevika   programme for rural women have been implemented.

On the tune of  “Sapt   Kranti” vision during JP movement, he planned 7-point programme, called “Saat-Nischay” for the all-round development of the State.   The Saat-Nischay includes (1) Aarthik  Hal  Yuvaon   Ko   Bal   for financially helping students & youths   to become self-reliant, (2) Aarakshit   Rojgar   Mahilaon  Ka   Adhikar through reservation for female in jobs as well as Panchayat &  local bodies, (3) Har   Ghar   Bijli, (4) Har   Ghar  Nal  Ka  Jal, (5) Har  Ghar  Tak  Pakki  Gali-Naliyan, (6) Gharon   Mein  Shauchalay  Nirman, (7) Awsar   Badhe  Aage  Padhe  by opening Technical/Medical/Nursing/Polytechnic/ITI/Para Medical institutes in every districts.

The positive face of Nitish is that his priority is not only government welfare schemes. His start-ups in the social sectors are more praise-worthy. The public campaign against age-old social evils such as Child marriage, Dowry System and Alcoholism is unique, as these issues are not said to be vote pulling agenda for politicians. Jal-Jiwan-Hariyali scheme for water conservation is also an ambitious mission. The ban on alcoholism has reduced domestic violence to a great extent. The Sharab Mafias are campaigning aggressively against Nitish and under their pressure a lobby comprising of opposition as   well as some BJP leaders are opposing the ban in the name of revenue collection. 

Although a lot of works have been done or are in progress, there is still  a lot to be done. A generation has changed in past 20-30 years and they have not faced the worst prevailing situations. Naturally, they will judge and act on the basis of the present scenario. The opening of Engineering and Medical colleges does not come under the ambit of development until its graduates are absorbed into jobs.   Presently unemployment is a big problem, not only in Bihar but in all the states. All the vacant seats in government as well as private sectors have to be filled up. Small scale and agriculture based industries should be established. Various defunct factories should be revived. The Central government will have to make a policy to set up new heavy industry factories in backward regions like Bihar. The rivers should be connected to tackle the problem of seasonal drought & flood. The shortcomings prevailing in schools, colleges, hospitals, transport and other sectors should be carefully rectified. Criminals and Corrupt personals should be crushed. Officers belonging to depressed class should also be positioned on strategic posts. The government should make time bound programme in all works sector for its timely implementation.

Nitish Kumar has always been criticized by his so-called secular political opposition parties for his alignment with the BJP, although previously all non-Congress governments in Bihar have been formed with direct or indirect support from BJP or the erstwhile   Jansangh. In 1990, Laloo Prasad had become CM with the support of BJP. In 2014, Nitish also tried to part away from the BJP when its leadership was transferred to Narendra Modi; but in the election, his works were not converted in to votes and as earlier castes & religion remain the major poll issue. Despite being in alliance with BJP, he never compromised with 3 “C” i.e. Crime, Corruption and Communalism. Unlike the Congress regime, his whole tenure remained riot-free.

Nitish Kumar has always been a struggler since the inception of his political career. In the political war of 2020, it was his struggle that despite being the target of all powerful groups comprising of opposition alliances, Liquor Mafia, biased electronic media as well as his own ally BJP’s core upper caste voters, he   won the battle, with some bruises   in terms of less number of seats. As per pre-Poll strategy, Nitish has become 34th CM of Bihar despite having less number of lawmakers of his Party and seeing the history of BJP’s “Chaal,  Charitra,  Chehara”, it is obvious  that his struggle would still continue. 

Due to deceit in the election, day to day criticism by BJP leaders and a conspiracy to break up JDU on the tune of Maharashtra, Nitish came out of NDA and formed Mahagathbandhan government on 10th August,, 2022  with the support of Lalu Prasad-led RJD & UPA and took oath as CM at 8th time. Although Nitish has announced to fight Vidhan Sabha election under leadership of Tejaswi Yadav, but Lalu was in hurry to make Tejaswi as CM by breaking some Nitish’s MLA. Such conspiracy, forced Nitish to rethink his alliance with Lalu and ultimately he resigned on 28th January 2024 to form again NDA government in Bihar. Nitish Kumar took oath as record 9th times. 


(Author is a technocrat & academician.)


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