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Nitish Kumar turns focus on social issues amid shaky alliance

At a time when his supporters are trying hard to read his mood, he has started focussing on his future plan to launch a massive campaign against child marriage and dowry.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Jul 03, 2017, 01.27 AM IST
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Nitish’s sudden decisions like his praise for demonetisation and support for NDA nominee for presidential polls Ram Nath Kovind has apparently helped the RJD chief to improve his relation with Congress.
Nitish’s sudden decisions like his praise for demonetisation and support for NDA nominee for presidential polls Ram Nath Kovind has apparently helped the RJD chief to improve his relation with Congress.
NEW DELHI: While his own style of politics remains a major source of embarrassment for his allies — RJD and Congress — within Bihar’s ruling grand alliance, chief minister Nitish Kumar continues to present a cool and calm face now-a-days.

Perhaps, he is in no hurry to walk out of the Grand Alliance. At a time when his supporters are trying hard to read his mood, he has started focussing on his future plan to launch a massive campaign against child marriage and dowry on the occasion of Mahatma Gandhi’s coming birth anniversary on October 2.

He apparently is looking for a chance to avoid any damage to his popular image as “Sushasan Babu” in his new avatar as a “fighter” against such social evils. So far this year, he has fully engaged himself and his government in organising good shows on the occasion of 350th birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh (January) and the Champaran Centenary Celebration (April).

He has already got declared Bihar as a “dry state” and subsequently, strengthened his women vote-bank particularly in rural areas. With GST coming into force, Bihar as a consumer state, is expected to compensate its loss which it suffered in the wake of total prohibition. So, CM has reasons to deliver more on development front. Although his ally Lalu Prasad-headed RJD has more seats (81) than his JD (U)’s 71 seats in the state assembly, he successfully continues to have an upper hand in Bihar politics. Initially, there was a fear in Nitish’s camp that RJD might assert its position within the government because of its good strength in the house. By taking a surprising decision to back NDA nominee for presidential polls, Nitish has already put the ball in the court of his allies — Congress and RJD. Now, all eyes are on RJD’s rally scheduled to be held in Patna on August 27.

RJD wants to play its role in the formation of opposition parties’ unity and it has invited important regional and national political players from the opposition camp. RJD chief Lalu Prasad has so far maintained a good relation with West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee. Nitish’s sudden decisions like his praise for demonetisation and support for NDA nominee for presidential polls Ram Nath Kovind has apparently helped the RJD chief to improve his relation with Congress . Lalu’s good relation with former UP CM and SP boss Akhilesh Yadav is an open secret.

RJD has reportedly approached BSP chief Mayawati to attend its rally. So, Kumar’ presence at the RJD’ show will be interesting to see.

Sources said all the three allies-RJD, Congress and JD (U) — have sorted out their differences currently. “JD (U) support for NDA’s nominee Kovind is an isolated example. Our party will continue to play its role for opposition’ unity at national level,” a source in JD (U) said.

What is considered to be source of trouble for the Nitish’ camp is constant attack against RJD chief Lalu and his family members on alleged corruption charges on part of the BJP’ Bihar unit. The Enforcement Directorate is allegedly tightening its noose around Lalu’s family.

Those who personally know CM Nitish feel he (Nitish) is an imageconscious politician. “Nitish camp is closely watching the development on ED front in connection with alleged cases of money laundering against Lalu Prasad. Only time will tell how Nitish acts in this matter in future,” a source in Bihar said. So, it still remains a moot point to see CM Kumar’s future role to keep intact the Grand Alliance in case ED inches close to Lalu’ family.

Another debatable point about Nitish in Bihar is his possible space in opposition camp in national politics. His new “avatar” as a “social reformer” suits his political interest in his style of politics. There are many takers of the theory that he can counter BJP through social issues.

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