Bihar stalwarts face a battle for survival3 min read
Though the big three of Bihar politics-Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad and BJP heavyweight Sushil Kumar Modi-are unlikely to contest the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, scheduled in a few months from now; their future appear critically dependent upon the outcome of the general election.
While Lalu Prasad cannot contest the Lok Sabha after his conviction in a fodder scam case that barred him from electoral politics; Nitish Kumar and his friend turned bete-noire Sushil Kumar Modi may prefer to stay back in Patna for obvious reasons. Nitish Kumar will continue as Bihar Chief Minister whereas Sushil Modi will seek to become one after the Bihar Assembly elections scheduled next year.
Ram Vilas Paswan, the only political biggie from Bihar who is almost sure to contest 2014 Lok Sabha election from Hajipur, the seat that he once won with a record margin but lost in 2009-needs to put up a better show to stay relevant in Bihar political landscape. This will also be perhaps his last chance to stage a comeback to political centre-stage or get reduced to political insignificance.
Having spearheaded JD-U to win 20 of the 35 Lok Sabha seats that his party contested in 2009, Nitish Kumar faces an enormous challenge of repeat his performance in 2009 Lok Sabha and 2010 Assembly election Nitish Kumar currently has the highest number of 20 Lok Sabha MPs in Bihar. No wonder, he is faced with the biggest challenge to retain these seats, if not to improve his tally.
In a calculated risk, Nitish Kumar had dumped BJP in June this year after his saffron ally of 17 years projected Narendra Modi as its prime ministerial candidate.
Nitish Kumar broke up the alliance shortly after losing Maharajganj by-election by a huge margin to RJD, prompting new political alignments in Bihar. Though Nitish Kumar will continue as Bihar Chief Minister irrespective of Lok Sabha polls results; JD-U’s performance in these elections will largely determine his political future in the long run.
Truth to tell, the Nitish Kumar’s government has faced multiple challenges in the aftermath of their divorce with BJP; and ironically failed to inspire confidence.
The death of 23 kids who lost their lives after consuming poisonous midday meal in Saran followed by Indian Mujahideen-triggered serial blasts at Bodhgaya on July 7 and subsequently at the BJP rally in Patna on October 27 are some of the incidents that raised serious questions on the ability of Nitish Kumar’s minority government to govern. Not only this, the Naxalites have stepped up their attacks while criminals are once again began calling the shots in Bihar, prompting spurt in murder, loot, kidnapping and robbery.
If Nitish Kumar has a mountain to climb; so does BJP heavyweight Sushil Modi. The split has put him face to face with Nitish Kumar. Having shaken off the image of an amenable Deputy Chief Minister that he was, Modi has emerged as a sharp and belligerent opposition leader. Now, the 2014 elections results would determine if become a bigger leader than the other three better known politicians from Bihar.
The 2014 Lok Sabha election will also decide if Lalu Prasad has stayed relevant in Bihar despite his conviction in a fodder scam case. While flaunting his anti-Narendra Modi credentials; Nitish Kumar has been trying hard to woo the 16 per cent Muslim electorates, Lalu’s relevance will depend on how much he succeeds in retaining his hold over minority votes. Having lost his Lok Sabha member ship following his conviction, Lalu is fighting with his back to the wall. The 2014 election results will eventually decide if the most famous poster boy of secularism in Bihar goes up or down.