Bihar Chief Minister and JD(U) national president Nitish Kumar may not be in a tearing hurry to snap ties with Lalu Prasad, but he has dropped first clear hints about his suffocation in the alliance. The split is very much on the cards, the question is when and on what grounds.
Nitish Kumar is surely looking for stronger reasons to walk away from Grand Alliance. JD(U) and RJD’s differences over their respective stands on presidential poll may not be good enough reason even though their relationship has hit a new low in last fortnight or so. BJP is eager, Nitish may well be willing, but RJD will do anything to save the alliance. Lalu Prasad has talked to Nitish Kumar twice after the latter’s outburst on RJD and combined Opposition over the way they chose Meira Kumar to contest NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovind.
The future of the alliance depends on how soon or late Enforcement Directorate tightens its noose around the Lalu family in alleged money laundering cases. The process is underway. There are reports of some “benami” properties already getting attached.
Meanwhile, BJP legislature party leader Sushil Kumar Modi keeps heat on Lalu Prasad with his fresh and old allegations. By now, the BJP leader has hoarded enough RoC details and is readying to go to court in at least two cases.
Nitish Kumar continues to maintain his upper hand in Bihar politics. The man who had advised PM Narendra Modi to follow up demonetisation with crackdown on benami property looks in utter discomfort with his ministers from RJD staring at money laundering cases. The more ED gets closer to Lalu family, the more Nitish loses his moral authority to talk on corruption and his much-hyped slogan of “zero tolerance against corruption”. One knows he had parted ways with NDA on matter of ideology, he might have bigger and more convincing reason to say goodbye to Lalu Prasad and Co. They are together till ED cases against Lalu family do them apart.
Meanwhile, he has left posers for Congress and BJP and will wait for their respective reactions. BJP may well be jumping in joy with the prospect of Nitish coming back to NDA, Nitish would be more interested in knowing if Congress-led Opposition needs Congress and if it gives some important role for him to play. Or else, he seems to have almost made up his mind and it is only a matter of time. Nitish has already scaled down his natiional ambition by saying he is not in the PM race. He also ended up on NDA side on matters of demonetisation, surgical strike and now support to Kovind. In this game, Nitish alone has a Plan A and Plan B, not Lalu.