LAW KUMAR MISHRA
PATNA: The seventh innings of Nitish Kumar as chief minister of Bihar has started with his education minister, Mewalal Chaudhury leaving the pitch hit wicket within two hours of taking over as the minister in State Secretariat.
Mewalal, a former vice-chancellor of Bihar Agriculture Minister was sacked within two hours of taking charge by the Governor, Fagu Chauhan.
Mewalal faces a series of charges of corruption and irregularities as VC of the university. He is on interim bail from the Patna High Court in vigilance cases filed against him by the state vigilance department at Sabour and Patna. Justice S MM Alam,a retired judge of Patna High Court in his inquiry report submitted to the then Governor,Ramnath Kovind(now President)on November 20,2016 had found evidences of large scale bungling, favoritism, Interpolation, manipulation, additions and subtractions in academic points of the candidates for appointment as teachers and scientists in violation of the university rules. After getting the report of the Justice Alam committee, the Governor had recommended registration of FIR against Mewalal, who evaded arrest .
Interestingly, the then leader of opposition, Sushil Kumar Modi had launched a campaign against Mewalal both inside and outside the assembly. His campaign had got support of a section of JDU leaders too.
Mewawal, who did not hide the criminal cases pending against him, was then nominated as JDU candidate and inducted into the cabinet by Nitish Kumar who allotted him education department. However,the situation changed within hours and Nitish was asked by the top BJP leaders to sack his favourite minister. The Central leadership of BJP was upset as the defence minister,Rajnath Singh and chief minister were involved in the selection of the ministers. BJP felt that the charge sheeted accused against whom BJP had launched a campaign in 2016-17 was nominated as minister by Nitish and that the charges were withheld from the union minister (Rajnath Singh).
Now, with a drastically reduced numbers in the Bihar assembly, JDU is literally the junior partner in Bihar NDA and the BJP has started dominating the JDU chief minister.BJP made two of its MLAs as deputy chief ministers too.Bihar may not be a centrally controlled state or union territory, but after November 16 ,the state has become the BJP controlled state. The autonomy enjoyed by Nitish Kumar for the last 15 years is now over and he is forced to obey the dictates of the BJP leaders.
The Prime Minister during his election campaign had described the state government as a Double engine government. In his speeches, he openly told the CM, “In the last 15 years,you could not do much. For the initial 12 years, you were not allowed to work by the UPA government and in the 18 months of your company with RJD, you could not do much”.
PM claimed that whatever development the state happened, it was during the four years of Nitish Kumar becoming part of the NDA and Centre giving him liberal assistance.PM repeatedly dismissed the claim of Nitish Kumar of being Vikas Purush.
Now, even though there is a double engine government in Bihar, the BJP’s Bullet engine is more powerful than the JDU in Bihar. Nitish Kumar who had been enjoying freedom so far is under constant watch of Amit Shah and Narendra Modi.
Nitish Kumar has to change the agenda of his Governance now. The Seven Resolves(Saath Nischay) part two as promised by Nitish Kumar in JDU manifesto is being amended to accommodate the BJP suggestions too. Some popular pro-rural schemes of BJP ruled states in Bihar are being incorporated.
BJP MP, Nitishikant Dubey has sent a letter to Nitish Kumar asking him to amend the Prohibition rules and follow the examples of Gujarat,where liquor is permissible on permits.
With the exit of Nitish Kumar favourite,Sushil Kumar Modi,his constant junior companion for the last 15 years, now the chief minister is forced to compromise on his stand on prohibition and Saat Nischay too.
BJP has alleged the Saat Nischay was not a NDA programme but a Grand Alliance programme which was signed between JDU and RJD.
Nitish Kumar is not on sound wicket inside the state assembly too as for the first time he faces a formidable opposition led by young Tejaswhi Prasad Yadav and JDU’s main rival,RJD emerging as the largest single party in 2020 assembly elections. Plus,there is threat of atleast 30 RJD losers approaching Patna High Court with election petitions alleging they were denied their due by the returning officers and were defeated by the official machinery with narrow margins ranging between four to 900 in postal ballots counting only.
Nitish Kumar must have a contingency plan ready. When he had shifted from BJP in 2013, he continued to run the government with the help of the Congress government and had arranged defections of seven Congress and 13 RJD legislators too. He may take the risk of poaching into RJD and the Congress MLAs too for his survival, if the BJP tried to ditch him ,like Nitish did with BJP in June 2013.
In the closely contested assembly elections, electorate of the Seeamanchal area of Kishanganj, Katihar, Purnia, Araria and Supaul having sizable number of Muslim voters, came to the rescue of the JDU and rejected the RJD and Congress candidates. Nitish Kumar got tacit support from an undisclosed friend–AIMIM of Mohammad Owaisi which won five seats in Seemanchal region diminishing the prospects of the Grand Alliance.
The much repeated threat of Maha Jungle Raj and presence of ‘Lakadsunghwas’ after sunset propagated by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his 12 public meetings across the state worked successfully, particularly to impress the women voters to keep them away from RJD.
Mithila and Kosi regions gave a big lead to the BJP in the elections. In these areas, Kashmiri militants threat was also raised and BJP leaders warned if RJD came to power, Kashmiri militants would get a safe passage in Bihar.In the first two phases of the elections NDA was placed second or third as the result showed. In the third phase campaign, militancy and even China started figuring in the campaign as Rashtrawad was exploited to the fullest extent ,cutting into the upper castes Brahmin vote banks of the Congress.
The blueprint of the new government is yet to be made public. The much promised 19 lakhs jobs by the BJP does not figure in the agenda so far. Problems of the migrant workers still dogs the government with no signs of any promise to come to their assistance. There is not a word on the commitment to supply anti-Corona vaccine free in Bihar.
The LJP led by Chirag Paswan was successful in making its presence felt.
Though only one candidate of LJP was successful, still in the words of the chief minister himself, prospects of the JDU candidates was destroyed by LJP in 38 constituencies. Chirag Paswan, during the campaign, had repeatedly declared his mission was to ensure defeat of Nitish Kumar whose party eventually could only win 43 seats on November 10 against 71 in 2015 elections.
Nitish was seen requesting the media persons after the poor show in the elections, “Please do not call me arrogant”. He had challenged the media persons and attributed defeat to their negative campaign on his development schemes. The media persons, while responding to Nitish, reminded him that he kept himself isolated since the lockdown and remained dependent on the feedback from the officers, while it was the media persons who were reporting from the villages.
Nitish Kumar instantly promised to reform him and be available to the people through his weekly Janata Darbar. The 2020 defeat had its immediate effect on the once PM material-Nitish Kumar who had debarred Narendra Modi from campaign ten years back and had withdrawn the dinner plates too.