Ni­tish’s Gam­bit is Based on Arith­metic

The Economic Times - - The Edit Page -

Within 24 hours of a Lok Sabha elec­tion that saw the Modi-led BJP come to power, Bi­har chief min­is­ter Ni­tish Ku­mar re­signed. Promptly, he an­nounced Ji­tan Ram Man­jhi, a leader from the Musa­har com­mu­nity — the “low­est” in the hi­er­ar­chy of Bi­har’s caste ma­trix — would be a care­taker CM of sorts as Ni­tish pre­pares for the as­sem­bly polls. This ploy en­sures the ex­tremely back­ward castes, which Ni­tish had sought to woo, would stay with him while other po­lit­i­cal par­ties feel chary about op­pos­ing the ar­range­ment. The think­ing is the so­cial jus­tice plat­form can chal­lenge the in­roads made by Modi. Ni­tish broke his al­liance with the BJP, claim­ing Modi’s en­try on the na­tional stage marked a turn to com­mu­nal pol­i­tics. It seemed strange then: Ni­tish had been a BJP ally for 17 years and a cen­tral min­is­ter at the time of the 2002 Gu­jarat ri­ots. The tie-up with the BJP worked well for him in Bi­har, where he stormed into power in 2005 and 2010, with the saf­fron party get­ting up­per-caste votes and Ni­tish ap­peal­ing to back­wards and some Mus­lims. Mur­murs have now emerged about an al­liance with his for­mer col­league and later arch-ri­val, Lalu Ya­dav of the RJD. This would seem to be a strange al­liance. Af­ter all, Ni­tish wrested Bi­har from Lalu in 2005 af­ter re­plac­ing the lat­ter’s caste em­pow­er­ment slo­gans with talk of eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment. But the Lok Sabha vote shares tell an­other story. While the BJP’s 29% was the high­est among all par­ties in Bi­har, the RJD notched up 20%, its ally the Congress 8%, and the JD(U) 16%. If all three come to­gether and voting pat­terns re­main the same, sim­ple arith­metic shows the com­bine would have 44% of all votes. If polls are held this year, in­stead of 2015, Ni­tish prob­a­bly fig­ures this al­liance will tri­umph. Cold arith­metic, not rhetoric, un­der­lies such moves.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.