Will Nitish Kumar strive to keep his flock together and united, or will he sacrifice the interest of his party, JD(U), to protect and promote the personal interest of Modi and Shah? This is the question haunting most of the JD(U) leaders. This question has attained huge significance and a completely new dynamics, with the party vice president Prashant Kishor challenging Shah’s assertion at a Lucknow public meeting that Modi government would not succumb to the opposition pressure tactics and withdraw the CAA.
In fact, assiduous silence of Nitish on the contentious issue has been causing severe consternation in the party circles. Both the leaders, Kishor and spokesman, Pawan Varma, have raised this issue at least twice with Kumar, but he refrained from making his stand clear. This wishy-washy response explicitly makes clear that Nitish will not rock his relation with Modi, though only a fortnight back he had, in a private conversation, been apprehensive about the ‘dangerous space’ BJP was leading the country into. This was revealed by Varma who in a letter to Nitish had pointed out that how he had confessed to him that the BJP was leading the country into a “dangerous space” and how he had been “humiliated” by the current BJP leadership.
Only a day before, Varma once again had raised this issue and cited the private confession to question Nitish’s decision to strike an electoral tie-up for the Delhi polls. He also sought to know,“If these are your real views, I fail to understand how the JDU is now extending its alliance with the BJP beyond Bihar, when even longstanding allies of the BJP, like the Akali Dal, have refused to do so”. Kumar has, in fact, preferred to put the issue on back burner than to join the debate.
It is really intriguing that Kumar who had ridiculed BJP and even went upto describing BJP-RSS as inimical to the country and had openly made a call for ‘RSS-mukt Bharat’ has now staked his prestige and political image to promote interest of Modi-Shah combination. Varma said there was “an urgent need for the JD(U) to harmonise what the party constitution says, what the leader of the party feels in private and what actions the party takes in public.”
The situation inside the JD(U) is indeed precarious. The move of Nitish has virtually pushed the party to a situation of vertical split. Leaders have started questioning his discretion and want to know what forced him to make a tactical shift from his earlier stand of not supporting BJP and Modi government’s move on citizenship issue. This contentious issue has split the party on the lines of those backing Nitish and those sticking to the party’s ideological line.
The development has come as a huge embarrassment to the party ahead of the coming assembly elections even as the party leadership looks helpless. Just after outburst of national general secretary, Pavan Varma, seeking “ideological clarifications” from Nitish over his move to enter into alliance with the BJP outside Bihar for Delhi assembly elections, Prashant Kishor launched a frontal attack on Amit Shah regarding the citizenship act. Since he is the second man after Nitish his open criticism has attained significance much to the consternation of the rank and file.
Kishor tweeted: “Being dismissive of citizens’ dissent couldn’t be the sign of strength of any government.” He even asked, “Why don’t you go ahead and try implementing the CAA & NRC in the chronology that you so audaciously announced to the nation!”
Both the leaders urged Nitish to review the party’s stand on the CAA-NRC: “This is especially so at a time when the BJP, through the CAA-NPR-NRC combine has embarked on a massive socially-divisive agenda, aimed at mutilating the peace, harmony and stability of the country”.
Nitish, who had always maintained an ostrich like approach on all the issues of national importance, has been caught on the wrong side for the first time. Some of the senior leaders endorse the stand of the two leaders. They have also ridiculed the suggestion of the party spokesman Varma to resign from the party if he finds fault with Nitish’s stand. These leaders, who are not ready to be publically identified at this stage, also point out how could Nitish ignore the popular sentiment which is completely against the citizenship issue.
Emphasising that India is witnessing the biggest student movement in Independent India they seek to know how anyone could prefer to ignore it. They also argue India cannot be a Republic founded on discrimination and a pervasive sense of fear and how Nitish Kumar endorse the tyrannies and machination of Modi-Shah to subvert the Democracy citing the latest study which points to the country’s fall in the democracy index.
By arrangement with IPA