Nitish Kumar, and the guide to survival at work (office politics, et al)

In a lofty speech, as Nitish Kumar declared that his mandate was to serve the people of the state, not one particular family, he is being compared to the wily Chanakya and termed opportunist at the same time. Should he have stuck it out and become the beacon of hope as leader of a fragmented Opposition?

Written by Anuradha Varma | New Delhi | Updated: August 1, 2017 6:58 pm
nitish kumar, nitish kumar quit as cm, nitish kumar resumes as cm, nitish kumar and office politics, office politics, life lessons from politics, indian express, indian express news Nitish Kumar’s case is a survivor’s tale to beat all others. The only thing that’s making it awkward is the constant reference to the call of conscience. (Source: AP)

As Nitish Kumar writes the script of Bihar politics, changing friends and foes at will on the political merry-go-round, is he the unlikely hero of our times? He’s checkmated the master of them all, Lalu Prasad Yadav, who over a decade ago, installed his wife Rabri Devi as Chief Minister when he was charged in the fodder scam. Now as the family watches, the former underdog has pulled the rug from under their feet.

In a lofty speech, as he declared that his mandate was to serve the people of the state, not one particular family, he is being compared to the wily Chanakya and termed opportunist at the same time. Should he have stuck it out and become the beacon of hope as leader of a fragmented Opposition? That’s a question only his very vocal conscience can answer, in a quiet moment. But, till then, it’s worth wondering whether we’re not all guilty of the same opportunism, in our careers. Think of those networking meetings, keeping in touch with “friends” only because you may need them someday for a career boost or smiling through gritted teeth at someone you don’t approve of professionally?

Many years ago, when I quit my first job and went back to meet my boss, I cited office politics as one of the reasons I perhaps didn’t quite enjoy my stint there. He laughed at that and said it was part of the deal. I’ve never forgotten that. Office politics is a reality to be dealt with pragmatically, not something to quit a job over, at least not without trying to cope or even better, overpowering it.

I’m reminded of that as the Nitish Kumar drama of quitting as Bihar chief minister and being reinstated in hours played out, sparking debates over the immorality of politics and Kumar in particular.

Think about it as a work scenario. You have a colleague whose work ethics you don’t respect, but are forced to work with, as part of a team. The only other option is to quit. What would you do? If you look for advice from friends and family, chances are they would tell you to grin and bear it. Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face or something like that. Keep your eye on the end goal— finish the project, get your salary and save your emails in case you need them!

Life teaches you pretty fast that quitting a job when the going gets tough or to make a high moral point, harms nobody but you. It’s best to simply stick it out, lie low in certain situations and ride the phase or, hang around till you get a better option. It’s what survival is all about. Many bosses are quick to cash in on enmity, pitting competitors against each other or putting them in the same team, so that they try to outdo the other.

Nitish Kumar’s case is a survivor’s tale to beat all others. The only thing that’s making it awkward is the constant reference to the call of conscience. It’s simply the tale of unabashed survival, getting ahead to meet one’s personal political goals at all costs. And, for those, who’re ready to ally with him—friends-turned-foes-turned friends-turned foe and friend again? — the writing on the wall is clear. The cycle will continue. As long as he gets to be in the driver’s seat, it doesn’t seem to matter who the companions are. There’s something to be said for the ones who’ve hopped along for the ride too. Isn’t it opportunistic to ally with someone who not so long ago indulged in some very public name-calling against you? Well, opportunism is just another name for survival. And while it’s just another day for Indian politics, we all need to introspect about how far we’re going to go to achieve our goals. How much is too much? It’s time to look in the mirror.

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    Thrinethran T V
    Aug 1, 2017 at 2:06 am
    He made one huge mistake, that of partnering the Lalu clan in 2015. Although his jumping ship attracts the ignominy of opportunism, the action has salvaged his indis ble accomplishment in transforming Bihar. For some of us, the standard of governance is paramount.
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    1. K
      Kamlesh Desai
      Jul 31, 2017 at 11:11 pm
      >to cut your moral g standing short - only the NDA can provide सुशासन (Good Governance) in Bihar, which was one of the worst BIMARU states till the advent of JD(U)/BJP on the scene!
      Reply
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        Tapan Sahay
        Jul 31, 2017 at 9:21 pm
        Hmm.. So the opportunism didn't come to your memory lane when kumar tied up with Lallu where both of them had accused each other in public for long and were rivals.. And that conveniently skipped your memory lane because that suited your ideology ?? And your long write up does not mention why Nitish exactly resigned?? You don't even mention the most corrupt Lallu who was proven guilty and has gone behind bars on corruption charges and now his son is openly engaged in corruption of highest degree. You are give free pass to these corrupt politicians who openly engage in corruption under the guise of being secular. You cheap journalists simply go by your narrow b of selective secularism and give free pass to corrupt politicians and call every politician opportunist who does not match you ideologically. Shame on you!
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        1. I
          IK
          Jul 31, 2017 at 8:16 pm
          Very good advise. worth reading
          Reply
          1. S
            Sanjay Lod
            Jul 31, 2017 at 8:05 pm
            s: /EYk0PH1Y4nM s: /OEW15a_YCDM s: docs.google /document/d/1TKkfl1WtdLuL_4WpRI4EPHMeoNU9SB2FINTOC638z80/edit?usp sharing s: docs.google /document/d/1eN6Csyg6JRVv9z9kjPd-u-mXXg4UrDv4fB-jy7W2DZA/edit?usp sharing s: /c5OkL-d3Yj0 s: /ZZntT16Tfxs s: docs.google /document/d/1c5TvzZtl02RJUnZprGYCByDjNQB8b2CjUOfW4Lfx1GM/edit?usp sharing s: docs.google /document/d/1mKXpnwtyvmYwcAMzkk2l8ntyLzvYKBZ_LUvQPXE1ZAs/edit?usp sharing s: /TdrT_8HoiHk s: /old_wUeUpRY s: /bB7Z-1MJMZw s: /YXgS5wE7MbQ
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            1. S
              Smart
              Jul 31, 2017 at 10:50 pm
              Are you on drugs like Pappu?
              Reply
            2. V
              Viki
              Jul 31, 2017 at 7:31 pm
              You start the article as citing this event as an example which may be followed in life in general and at the end you are not sure ! I guess that is the state of morals in what we call modern world and the result of social chaos is felt every second to each one of us !
              Reply
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                TIHAEwale
                Jul 31, 2017 at 6:08 pm
                Nitish is from school of Chandra Shekar who had no qualms to do anything for chair. todayNitish position is some what similar that of Maya Memsaab post 1991 when BJP was ready to hold her tail to be within range of power.
                Reply
                1. R
                  Raghavendra Rao
                  Jul 31, 2017 at 7:26 pm
                  After all politics is a game of opportunity .No body is a permanent friend or enemy.Nitish is no exception and he played the game well.Only time will decide who is right and who is wrong.
                  Reply
                2. M
                  Mr
                  Jul 31, 2017 at 5:40 pm
                  Once the verdict of other Chara Scandls of Lalu Prasad Railway Ghotala are out, people will understand the correct politics of Mr Nitish Kumar. RJD-Congress in Bihar will be nowhere then.
                  Reply
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