Nitish + BJP: Two Way Political Opportunism

Politics in India is going through some mysterious ideological re-alignments.  BJP under the leadership of Modi – who has exceptional skills at demagoguery – and Amit Shah – who can forge deals with even the most un-suspecting and unwilling – is getting stronger by the day.  In the various state legislature elections that followed the Lok Sabha elections, the party was either elected to power and, if not, it managed to be sworn-in through some Machiavellian alliances that were  worked out before or after the elections.  Interestingly, this was also used to generate some euphoria amongst supporters and the sight of this, in turn, created a huge impression about the strength and invincibility of the party.

In the last three years BJP has not been able to come up with a definition of what it stands for and plans to do.   It supports Hindutava and the development of a Hindu Rashtra and the same time swears by the Constitution;  it lets lose its cow vigilante groups and sends out a message that violence from this group would not be tolerated; it works over-time and pushes hard to get the GST Bill passed after resisting its passage when in opposition; it seeks friendship with nations from across the globe but fails to work on strengthening relationships with neighbors; it talks of taking a tough position on Kashmir but partners with PDP and handles its misdemeanour with kid-gloves; it talks of ‘minimum’ government and ensures that all the powers are wrested with the un-approachable PM and his office; it talks of reducing corruption, and even creates a perception of a reduction, but does not explain as to how and where from the huge party expenses are met; and it abuses its partner who walks out of an alliance and receives him with open arms when he decides to come back.

Someone from the BJP needs to explain what the party believes in at the ideological level and not give some explanation, that only reflects their tactical approach, of why it does not seem to be taking a ideology-driven approach in the resolution of problems.  This government is not handicapped as UPA I – which was driven into in-action by its rather in-active PM because of the “coalition dharma” that he was forced to follow. BJP is a party in power and in absolute command but still reflects an extremely indecisive character.  And, this is not because of a lack of resolve but because of the lack of intellectual ability to look at issues in the larger perspective and generate the required clarity that would create and support the necessary conviction.

About two years back, looking at the frequent changes in the political allegiance of Nitesh Kumar, Modi had commented that there was “some problem with Nitish Kumar’s DNA” and now Modi has exploited the same DNA problem of Nitesh to get him back into an alliance for sharing power in Bihar.  The political objective for BJP, at this stage, is getting into power in as many states as it can – how and with whom has no meaning at all.  If it can work out a rather unholy alliance with the PDP in J&K, why not join hands with JDU in Bihar.  There are no permanent friends and no permanent enemies in politics – what we have is permanent interests and opportunities – and this is the operating mantra not only for the BJP but all political parties with, probably, the only exception of the communists.

Nitesh broke his seventeen year old alliance with BJP and joined hands with RJD and Congress to form a Mahagatbandhan (Grand Alliance) to fight the perceived non-secular agenda of the BJP/NDA.  He managed to form the government but was forced into accepting the position of a political second fiddle to the aggressive and interfering Lalu and his rather indulgent family members.  He had a decent track record in governance and had been able to create an image for himself that generated a perception – though not too strong and widespread – that he could be a Prime Ministerial candidate.  This public perception was re-enforced a little by the fact that some important leaders such as Sharad Pawar and Lalu Yadav endorsed his credentials of being capable of walking into 7 RCR someday.  The fact that he joined hands with parties like the RJD and the Congress clearly establishes that he had decided to ignore the two major issues that the Indian politics was grappling with – political dynasties and corruption.  He, obviously, was at that point in time trying to use these two parties to emerge as a alternate to Modi – he must have thought that he could use his clean and efficient image and piggy ride the RJD and Congress organizational capabilities.  He, probably, under-estimated the dent that his image would suffer if the BJP was to get aggressive in taking Lalu and family to task on charges of corruption.  Expectedly, that happened.  And, just as that happened, Nitish – very smartly – managed an ideological volte-face and got back to BJP for an alliance and the BJP leadership, in its desire to add one more state to its kitty, accepted his return with fervor.  Nitish’s conduct is rather intriguing.  Probably, it has dawned on him that it is Modi who is driving Indian politics and that he stands no chance if he were to compete with him – he has no party and the parties that he had an alliance are fast getting marginalized – and the best available option is to retain the top job in the state rather than trying hard to get the top job at the Centre.

With the kind of people that are occupying the political space in the country, it is difficult to expect politicians to have any respect for ethical or political principles in the process of  consolidation or expansion of their influence.   It is just about seeking opportunities to get the numbers to be in power and that is what Nitish has done.  Nitish had all the reason to be with either of the two partners and it was not expected that he would be so confused or opportunistic that he would flip-flop and not know where he belonged – the lap of a pathologically corrupt politician or in the pocket of a person who thought that there was a ‘problem’ in his DNA.  Modi is a clear winner in this latest episode of this political ‘serial’ and Nitish has done exactly opposite of what his name means – master of the right path.

Bollywood has given us many films in which one of the main characters of the two feuding families is bought over by the other and, thereafter, he is shown as a patronized side-kick of the protagonist.  Ironically, watching the way political machinations unfold, it seems that we are watching and enjoying some such B grade movie out of compulsion as there is nothing better to watch.  We can only hope and pray that people would stop watching such movies and the makers of these movies would be out of business and that someday we would have some good ‘directors’ and ‘actors’ giving us reason to get on to an ethical and moral political path which would take us to our material and spiritual goals.


Cartoon in Words

1. Sonia along with other leaders sitting on dais and Rahul addressing a Congress rally. One Congress worker to another:   Why are we here standing in this heat – don’t you think that our ‘sarpanch’ has better ideas.

2.Closed door industry association meeting in progress and the President of the association addressing the members: When you meet the press after this meeting,  tell  them that the economic and policy environment  is very supportive  – if you have to survive.


  1. Well written. Modi happens to be different and adopts rather unconventional methods to win over his adversaries. This makes it difficult for the conventional Indian mindset to comprehend and accept. The lament is understandable. When we don’t win, we extend excuses and long winded logic to justify our stand.

  2. Great research done

  3. The first portion of your analysis on BJP functioning style is very true.
    All political leaders want to retain power at any cost. Nitishkumar is no different. A lot of negotiations and plans would have started much earlier obviously helped by middlemen.
    There is a popular saying- power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. You need not be corrupt for wealth or money alone.
    This happens in a different way in corporate board rooms and same is with government.
    I won’t be surprised if discussions and scheming are on between BJP and local parties in Karnataka, Orissa and even Tamil Nadu.

  4. Well, that is politics in India for some decades now, both at Centre and States, and Modi/Shah have mastered it. I don’t see any other party bettering them for another decade.

  5. wao, this article should be read by maximum persons because it is true on ground. Well done sir …

  6. Very well conceived and thought through article

  7. Arshad Majeed

    Mera desh lagta hai dobara ghulam hogaya hai lekin hamein koshih nahin chodni hai Raesh Duda You are doing a wonder ful job

  8. A well written piece.

    Old saying “every thing is fair in love and war” has a few additions – “politics” and “global economic power game”

    It applies to new order regimes in most countries where traditional & predictive moves are getting into realms of changes & challenges

    Demise of grand-pa of national parties is a result of long-term ailment – visible in most states with regional leaderships taking over in last few decades. Rather, I say post 31st October’1984 it’s unwilling rulers who are forced to assume the role continued reaping dividends from the generation who saw the charisma of father and daughter – some loved it and few hated the dictatorial tendencies.

    Thus natural progression for all national parties is to learn to ride on different regional breed of horses. You can’t denounce the attempt of BJP to develop ability to simultaneously ride on the back of so many horses. Till now idealists talked of either inaction of “coalition dharm” or to act on “Raj Dharm”, but could not imagine that in absence of strong central parties, situation will be piqued when these states have hung assemblies

    In such situations “grey” is the color of era. How can BJP talk of saffron or green alone – and why analysts should insist them to stick only to these 2 colors? Its immediate rival has a flexibility of taking shelter under third color (in party flag) but under the garb of white, acts in the realm of black continued right since pre-independence days.

    I always wonder “was Indian democracy not killed much before independence, when Nehru was crowned despite most executives committee voted for Patel?”. More over, most of the global systems of multi-corner voting don’t elect by “Majority Support” – then why to debate how Nitish forms a New Government and prove majority on the floor of house

  9. The article summarizes the state of Bharat politics quite precisely. My view, in summary, is Congress is getting its own medicine. In other words, we are facing the consequences of Congress not being dissolved after Independence as Gandhi ji desired or cautioned about. In my view, Congress has been the fountainhead of unprincipled politics. The other parties had to adapt at least some of Congress’ ways to grab/retain power.

    I cite the example of Muslims, and in a broader sense, even SC and OBC of Bharat as the reader will understand from what follows. Congress only exploited Muslims as vote bank and really did not do much to educate and employ them to join the mainstream life. As a result, Muslims have still been mired in many dogmas and become easy prey for tutoring from Pakistan and engage in obvious commerce- and morale-destroying activities.

    I do not know the details of what was the background of PDP-BJP alliance in J&K. However, just from logic, and “coalition-dharma” the author has pointed out, some “brakes” would have been applied to the reckless/extreme policies/actions of both sides.

    I believe it is wrong to label BJP government(s) as indecisive. Just the efforts to regulate/uncover the underground economy should be enough to make BJP free from such label.

    Although, I am a BJP supporter but, as another reader has commented, I also realize: Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Therefore, Bharat’s best interests are in a strong and responsible opposition. However, Congress’ dishonest and short-sighted rule for decades, plus that rule being bereft of virtually any development at the village level, have led to what the author is reporting.

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