When she said “people want Tejashwi as CM”, former Bihar chief minister Rabri Devi was trying to express the pent-up desire of RJD to assert its supremacy in Nitish Kumar-led Grand Alliance. She reacted so in response to questions of some RJD MLAs rooting for Tejashwi as CM.
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But Rabri Devi also knows very well that RJD cannot afford to do without Nitish Kumar till 2020 Assembly elections for two obvious reasons – Deputy CM Tejashwi Prasad Yadav, younger son of Lalu Prasad and Rabri Devi, being too young and inexperienced at 26 to become CM and JD (U) and BJP having simple majority together to form government if RJD flexes too much muscle.
RJD (80 seats) also knows that it does not have majority with Congress (27 seats) in a House of 243. Between Lalu and Nitish, it is the latter that has options for now. It is precisely for the reason that Nitish keeps Lalu guessing by showing a tilt towards BJP on and off. Nitish’s support to BJP’s demonetisation has to do as much with his stand against corruption and black money as with keeping alliance partner Lalu on toes.
RJD, at best, has been trying to prepare Tejashwi for CM candidature for 2020 Assembly elections and subtly give a message to CM Nitish Kumar about its stronger position in the Grand Alliance. Lalu Prasad has been taking 2015-2020 as probation period for deputy CM Tejashwi to understand fine nuances of politics from CM Nitish Kumar. But at the same time, it is happy with some of its MLAs raising voice in support of Tejashwi as CM. It is always safe for Rabri and Tejashwi to say that every party wants to see its leader at top post and the party can “do little about spontaneous reactions of party workers”, but everyone knows no MLA in RJD can raise any voice without tacit support from Lalu Prasad.
Nitish Kumar seldom reacts to such overt political posturings from the RJD. He knows RJD’s frustrations and limitations as well. He also knows Congress has greater liking for JD (U) than RJD. Nitish also knows that being with RJD will alsp help him serve his national ambition by emerging as anti-BJP voice. Nitish also knows it has eagerly waiting BJP if JD (U) national president is forced to the wall by RJD. It is a win-win situation for Nitish. It is precisely for the reason that Rabri Devi clarified within a few hours of her one-line statement supporting her son for PM. She reiterated faith in Nitish Kumar’s leadership and said she had been talking in terms of 2020 Assembly polls.
RJD’s desperation also stems from its ability to assert in matters of governance. Even though Nitish Kumar does not interfere with departments allotted to alliance partners, he does do periodic reviews and suggests ways for improvement. It has never been a smooth alliance. It has been an alliance of mutual necessity and mutual lack of options.
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