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Out of my mind: When facts change

After the BJP/NDA went out of power, the JD(U) stuck to its friendship with the BJP, and won the 2005 and 2010 elections. That coalition delivered the most clean and successful regime in Bihar since 1947.

Written by Meghnad Desai | Published: August 6, 2017 1:34 am
nitish kumar, jdu bjp alliance, bihar politics, bjp bihar, nitish kumar bjp, narendra modi, lalu prasad yadav, indian express news As Keynes said “When facts change I change my opinions. What do you do?” Nitish Kumar would agree. (Source: PTI Photo)

Nitish Kumar’s breakup of the Mahagathbandhan (MGB) has generated an incredible amount of comment in the media. There are attempts to read greater significance in it, to denigrate Nitish Kumar as an opportunist, to decry the state of secular politics and so on. These analyses are based on as short-term a perspective as one is getting used to in the media. If a week is a long time in politics, a year is eternity and totally forgotten. The problem of reading ideological meanings into the move is that the facts will not bear the burden of the analysis.

Let us revert to IBM — India Before Modi. In those obviously safe, secular, liberal, enlightened days (according to the Congress), there was unanimity as to the Idea of India. It was a time of a happy Congress parivar except for the naughty child BJP which had to be constrained. In 1998, the surprise came in the form of the BJP/NDA government with Atal Bihari Vajpayee (just a mukhauta for the sinister ideology behind him) in the lead. Nitish Kumar and the JD(U) were part of the coalition and he was a successful railways minister. (In the spirit of Bihari competition, Lalu succeeded Nitish as a railway minister in the UPA).

After the BJP/NDA went out of power, the JD(U) stuck to its friendship with the BJP, and won the 2005 and 2010 elections. That coalition delivered the most clean and successful regime in Bihar since 1947. Bihar saw law and order restored, growth accelerated and women and girls were placed at the centre. Budgets were as nearly balanced as possible thanks to the genius of Sushil Modi.

It all went awry with the arrival of Narendra Modi as the likely choice of the BJP to be its leader in the forthcoming elections. This was not to everyone’s liking even within the BJP. Nitish Kumar had his differences with Modi but more than that he felt he was senior to Modi in the NDA. While Modi had won thrice in Gujarat, there was the issue of the 2002 riots. Nitish had won two elections and been in the Central Cabinet in the first BJP/ NDA government. It was a status battle. They are both ambitious men and Nitish obviously thought he should have led the coalition in 2014.

Hence the break in 2013. It was not ideological. It was strategic. It was predictable that breaking up would be a mistake as the good governance in Bihar would suffer. But it was to allow himself the freedom to head a new NDA coalition had Modi fallen short and got only 180 seats, as even his own party was hoping. Modi surprised everyone by delivering an outright majority. The BJP/ NDA route was closed to Nitish Kumar if he wanted the highest political job.

He took a gamble in 2015 with the MGB. It was obvious that the alliance with Lalu would not last. The quality of governance delivered by the 2005-2013 government was not matched by the 2015- 2017 coalition. By 2017, it was also clear that an anti-BJP coalition would not work. The proof came in UP elections that Modi would win in 2019. As Keynes said “When facts change I change my opinions. What do you do?” Nitish Kumar would agree.

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  1. J
    Aug 7, 2017 at 12:26 am
    To call Nitish Kumar an oppurtunist is respected word, HE IS BiKAV, worst than a pros ute who at least BIKAV to fulfill their needs.
    1. S
      Aug 7, 2017 at 12:04 am
      The author is another opportunist who feels the sin of nitish will be forgiven in one year in politics, just as his own sin writing such ridiculous piece of writing will also be forgiven. That said, God will deprive him of his intellect surely for such a biased writing devoid of any conscience for the people who elected him to confront and not to sleep with BJP.
      1. H
        Aug 6, 2017 at 11:25 pm
        Great Lord Meghnad Desai, I humbly submit that Keynes did not say that he changed his values and commitments when his calculations changed. But probably you think, like many such money-baked lintellectuals, that one can "commission" more and better ideas than Keynes because some decadent governments in the Queen's Territories give one importance.
        1. T
          Thrinethran T
          Aug 7, 2017 at 2:16 am
          If he had reviled Nitish like many others just now, for forsaking Lalu's Family-Clan-Cabal, would those governments in the Queen's Territories have appeared less degenerate? How about the fact that he appreciates the fact that Nitish has improved the State's administration quite visibly, and wants to salvage that? Makes one wonder if the public interest is of any concern at all!
        2. A
          Aug 6, 2017 at 8:50 pm
          Can I also write such mindless blogs which doesn't contain any content? or is it only the prerogative of likes of Meghnad desai, Tavleen Singh?
          1. Seshubabu Kilambi
            Aug 6, 2017 at 7:51 pm
            The change of alliance in previous election itself shows that friendship with bjp was failure. Switchig again is just a rank opirtunist step to grab powr
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