Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar could not have missed this opportunity in his “national” interest. After the GST Bill was passed with consensus in Parliament, the monsoon session of Bihar’s legislature (Assembly and Council) was wrapped up too. However Nitish took no time in announcing that a special session would be convened to pass the Bill and lend support to Centre’s landmark move.
Nitish Kumar can afford to attack central government over price rise and other economic issues but not GST. After all, it was the Nitish-led JDU-BJP coalition government that had lent support to the bill during the UPA government when he allowed his then deputy and BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi to lead an empowered committee of state finance ministers on GST.
Sushil Modi had attended several meetings to bring about a consensus on GST and Nitish Kumar also took part of the credit for it then and later. Nitish never spoke against the bill except for taking up the states concerns over the tax collection method and data compilation for transparent division of tax between the Centre and the states at some point of time after it is passed.
Since the bill is supported by all parties, Nitish would not have gained anything politically by dissenting and more importantly, making a U-on it. The GST bill is now being talked of a national interest issue and lending support to it suits him politically as well. In any case, a party with two MPs in Lok Sabha and nine MPs in Rajya Sabha would not have gained much politically.
A senior JD (U) leader, however, linked GST support to Nitish Kumar’s politics in of “state ahead of his political affiliations”. Here again, Nitish Kumar may seek to take political the highg round of rising above “politics of confrontation” with the Centre.
At another level, Nitish Kumar has many other issues he can grapple over with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. If someone like Lalu Prasad – a sworn BJP adversary — can be on same page on GST with BJP, Nitish is anyway much more comfortable with the idea.