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Kartikeya Conundrum: Running the Coalition Is Tightrope Walk for Nitish Kumar

On Wednesday, Singh went from law minister to sugar cane minister. By the evening, he resigned from ministership.

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Edited By :Tejas Harad

Anant Singh's ‘Master Saheb,’ Tejashwi Yadav's MLA, a minister in Nitish Kumar's government, and kidnap accused – Kartikeya Singh has been removed as the law minister of the state. Singh is an accused in an abduction case.

On Wednesday he went from law minister to sugar cane minister. By the evening, he resigned from ministership altogether.

Nitish Kumar, who insists on keeping his own image clean against corruption and crime, recommended the governor to accept his resignation, who in turn obliged. Shamim Ahmad, MLA from Narkatia in Motihari, will now be the new law minister of Bihar.

Though Kartikeya Singh is now out of the Nitish Kumar ministry, questions are being raised as to why he had been made a minister in the first place, and if he is tainted. If he is not tainted, why has he been removed?

Is this removal an effort to control the damage or to portray a clean image?

Is this removal a win for the opposition or for Nitish Kumar?

And, what are the political lessons from the whole saga?

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Kartikeya Singh – a Puzzle

An abduction case was registered against Kartikeya Singh in Bihta police station of Patna in 2014. Ex-MLA Anant Singh is also a co-accused in the case. A warrant was issued against Kartikeya Singh, which was later stayed by a court in Danapur. The order was issued on 12 August, just four days before he took oath as a minister.

The relief period from the court, in this case, is to end on 1 September. Nitish Kumar changed his portfolio on 31 August.

“Kartikeya Singh is a minister from the RJD quota. He is also believed to be associated with Ex MLA Anant Singh. It is said that Kartikeya Singh manages the business of Anant Singh, who has recently been convicted and sentenced to 10 years in a murder case," said Patna-based senior journalist Ravi Upadhyay.

"He was also accused of keeping an AK-47 rifle and a hand grenade. Now if anyone who is connected with Anant Singh is part of the Nitish Cabinet then it is obvious that question would be raised,” he added.

“The decision of removing Kartikeya Singh must not have been taken by Nitish Kumar single-handedly. Tejashwi Yadav must have been consulted. Kumar is very sensitive about his clean image and does not want any stains on himself or on his government,” he said.

But the RJD seems to be on a back foot on the issue. Spokesperson Mritunjay Tiwari told The Quint, “It is the prerogative of the Chief Minister and the Deputy Chief Minister to give ministership and portfolios. The decision was not taken under any pressure.”

Tiwari attacked the BJP saying, “Ousted from the government, the BJP is feeling like a fish out of water. If an action would have been taken after an allegation of the BJP, then he would have been removed from the ministry but only his department was changed. There are many such examples when a portfolio has changed within 24 hours such as education minister Mevalal Chaudhary and Jitan Ram Manjhi.”

Tiwari insisted that ‘all is well’ within the Nitish Kumar government.

What Did the BJP Say?

BJP state president Sanjay Jaiswal launched an attack on Nitish Kumar over the issue.

“Nitish Kumar first traps the people and then saves them when they surrender and support him. The Kartikeya Singh episode has again proved the gaps in the Nitish Kumar's clean image policy. He is now just a rubber stamp of Lalu Yadav family,” he said.

The allegation of the BJP raised crucial questions, including whether running the coalition with the RJD is becoming a headache for Nitish Kumar.

Senior Journalist Ravi Upadhyay said, “There is a lot of difference between Nitish Kumar of 2005 and today. The RJD is the bigger coalition partner and there are always difficulties in running a coalition. But this coalition is slightly different."

"Law and order had always been a big question during the Lalu Yadav regime as he always kept it beyond a thin line but Tejashwi wants to draw a prominent line on the issue. Tejashwi does not want to hand out any issues to the Opposition to risk his ouster from power,” he added.

Upadhyay said that Tejashwi is going beyond the Muslim-Yadav (MY) combination of Lalu Yadav to project an image of A to Z for himself.

“He is young and trying to avoid tainted people to become too powerful in his party. He also does not want any clash with Nitish Kumar because everyone now wants to avoid the frequent flip-flop,” he said.

In all, the resignation of Kartikeya Singh looks like an exercise by Nitish Kumar for damage control and to keep his image untainted. He is also wary of going against his coalition partner, which could jeopardise his smooth sailing ship at a time when the BJP is expecting some headwinds.

(Translated from Hindi. Read the original here.)

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Edited By :Tejas Harad
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