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Nitish Attacks BJP Again Over Pegasus Issue; What Does He Want in Bihar?

In recent times, CM Kumar has deviated from the BJP's stand on multiple occasions.

Updated
Opinion
3 min read
<div class="paragraphs"><p>Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar </p></div>
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After his stand on caste census, opposition to the population-control draft bill, and meeting with Om Prakash Chautala, BJP-ally and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar is now echoing Rahul Gandhi on the Pegasus issue. The Bihar CM said that if the Opposition is demanding an investigation into the Pegasus snooping scandal, an investigation must be initiated.

In recent times, Kumar has deviated from the BJP's stand on multiple occasions.

But why is Kumar, a friend of BJP, suddenly speaking like a foe? Are the winds in Bihar about to change?

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Nitish's Objection to Centre's Caste-Based Census

As mentioned earlier, Pegasus is not the first issue in which Nitish has deviated from the BJP's stand. When the Centre suggested that OBCs will not be counted in the caste-based census, Kumar objected.

He agreed with Tejasvi Yadav and said that they should be counted.

It came to a point that there was news that if the Centre does not conduct a caste-based census, the Bihar government will do it.

Many would say that taking a stand for his OBC votebank was a political compulsion for Nitish. But the fact that Kumar deviated from BJP's stand is also sending a message – that they’ve lost seats, but surrender is not on the cards.

BJP's Attempt to Capitalise 'Bhakt' Sentiment Via Population Bill Dampened by Nitish

For four and a half years, BJP kept insisting that all is well in Uttar Pradesh. However, right before the elections they have started to say that the root of all problems is the state's population. Does this mean, that as per BJP, the public is the root of all problems?

In any case, the party says that population control is necessary.

Here, too, Kumar stood poles apart from the BJP.

BJP’s attempts to capitalise on the popular 'bhakt' sentiment that “Muslims have too many kids” was dampened by Kumar's disagreement on the issue and his suggestion that women must be educated instead.

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Nitish Was Pushed to Third Place by BJP

Recently, another development took place: Nitish’s meeting with Omprakash Chautala.

Nitish’s excuse for the same was their "old relationship", but the timing of the meet raises several questions. Speculations are rife that it had to do with the BJP-LJP friendship that is purported to have blossomed in the run up to the Bihar polls.

In the 2020 Assembly elections, Lok Jan Shakti Party (LJP)'s Chirag Paswan had pitched candidates against Kimar. In fact, it is said that Paswan is directly responsible for Nitish’s reduced stature in Bihar.

Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) cost Nitish at least 30 seats in the Assembly by contesting separately. And now Paswan has clearly stated that all actions they took were approved by the BJP.

In any case, Nitish cannot ignore the fact that he was pushed to third place by the BJP. He also knows that there is only a gaping chasm beyond the third place. If you fall from there, you disappear.

Is Nitish Signalling an About Turn in Politics?

Kumar's stand on Pegasus, caste census, Chautala and the UP population-control draft bill can be considered a political necessity for his continued political presence. If anyone in the BJP had expected that Nitish would have just surrendered himself to the saffron party with folded arms, they must be regretting now.

By constantly contradicting BJP’s stand on issues, Nitish is once again hinting towards making an about-turn. It might be a bit premature to say this, but manoeuvres have their own effect in politics – a message to a partner, a signal to a competitor.

The word 'competitor' reminds me of Lalu, a former friend of Kumar's, who has been quite actively meeting Mulayam-Pawar, fostering friendship between Chirag-Tejashwi.

Nitish Kumar is also watching his old friend Prashant Kishor (whose phone was also allegedly hacked) move from Kolkata to Mumbai and from Mumbai to Delhi.

Monsoons in Bihar changes the look and feel of the land. The mounds in fields break. The lines, dividing ‘yours’ and ‘mine’ get washed away. Later, it all goes back up, lines are redrawn. The politics here has a similar temperament.

(This piece was originally published in Quint Hindi and has been translated. Read the original story here.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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