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'Modi will marginalise Nitish in 2, 3 years'

By Archana Masih
July 28, 2017 08:32 IST
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'If you see the behaviour of the BJP with their allies, they stay with the allies for some time and then take command of the government.'

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar

"Nitish will wait for the RJD to make a decision and then react. There are two options before him if the alliance breaks. He either teams up with the BJP or goes for a fresh election. My impression is that he will avoid a fresh election," Professor Prabhat Ghosh, director of the Asian Development Research Institute, Patna, had told's Archana Masih in a prescient interview 15 days ago.

Professor Ghosh explains the developments in Bihar after the Mahaghatbandhan (the Grand Alliance between the Janata Dal-United, Rashtriya Janata Dal and Congress formed before the 2015 assembly election) collapsed and Nitish Kumar aligned with the Bharatiya Janata Party in this interview with Archana Masih.

How is the relationship between Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar going to work out?

The Centre can be either helpful or harmful.

Narendra Modi will give him every help from the Centre, but will see the credit is not usurped by Nitish alone.

He will see that it also accrues to Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi and the BJP, if possible more to the BJP.

Earlier, all credit went to Nitish Kumar.

Has Nitish Kumar proved to be a shrewd and masterful politician?

You are considered a shrewd politician when you win in a difficult situation.

Nitish has compromised on principles to remain CM.

You are considered shrewd when you don't compromise, or when you make a small compromise for a big gain.

Nitish has compromised for a small gain.

He will be less powerful in 2019 because the BJP will not allow him to grow.

He broke with the BJP in 2013 on Narendra Modi's anointment as its prime ministerial candidate. Now he's back with the BJP -- is he a political opportunist?

One of the things Narendra Modi said before the 2015 Bihar election was that Nitish Kumar's DNA was bad.

You cannot think of a worse adjective than that.

You are not calling him inefficient, opportunist or dishonest, you are questioning parentage.

He (Nitish Kumar) has forgotten that now and to do that you have to be very accommodative.

Was his commitment to secularism and seeing a 'RSS mukt Bharat just double speak?

He used to say he is a secularist, so he supported Atal Bihari Vajpayee but not Narendra Modi.

He has shown that he is not particular about that now.

Lalu Yadav has had long-standing corruption charges and has already been convicted.

Nitish Kumar had no problem teaming up with a convicted man, but has a problem teaming up with a man who is not convicted, but has an FIR against him.

At one time he thinks conviction doesn't matter, at another point of time even an FIR is a good enough reason to depart from the RJD.

There is clearly a mismatch between the two behaviours.

Does the collapse of the Mahagatbandhan betray the decisive mandate of the Bihari people?

If he (Nitish Kumar) had said that he couldn't remain in the alliance because of the corruption charges against the RJD and was resigning, if he had said that he would fight a fresh election to be CM again, things would have been different.

But here the position is such that you win the election with the help of A and form the government with the help of B.

This makes the election a farce.

The BJP has 53 MLAs and the JD-U has 71, but the number of ministers in the new ministry will be equal for both.

14 each and all the shots will be called by the BJP.

In this ministry Sushil Modi will be more powerful than he was earlier.

This BJP is much stronger than the previous BJP.

If you see the behaviour of the BJP with their allies, they stay with the allies for some time and then take command of the government.

I won't be surprised if 2, 3 years down the line Nitish Kumar is marginalised.

One can even argue that Nitish Kumar has depicted time and again that he can steer his way through Indian politics despite not having a strong base of voters.

He is one of the most educated chief ministers in the country.

To be in politics you need two things

1. Capacity to understand political forces, and

2. Base of support

Nitish does not have that base and has to bank on the BJP's and the BJP will extract its price sooner or later.

What difference will this new dispensation bring to governance in Bihar?

Development and administration process will improve.

The inclusion of the BJP also means the support of the elite class which includes the bureaucracy, landlords and press.

The only aggrieved are those who had seen the emergence of a new set of people in power which started with Lalu Prasad.

Lalu dislodged traditional forces. Unfortunately, after dislodging those forces he acquired those very negative characters that the traditional forces had.

He can call the CBI inquiry political vendetta, but the charges are not baseless.

The same charges are against many thousands of people in India, but only Lalu Prasad is chosen to be investigated.

You spoke about some of the positives about the new alliance, what are some of the negatives?

The main agenda that they don't talk about but practice is the fundamental agenda of Hindutva.

That agenda is sold in the first stage, not as Hindutva but nationalism.

Once that gains power, it means the absence of any progressive ideas.

But the Bihar BJP's Hindutva base is not very strong as it is in UP and Madhya Pradesh.

There are still some forces left who can probably fight the BJP, but that danger is still there.

How do you assess Nitish Kumar? What are his beliefs?

As a young man, he was a Socialist. He always takes the name of Ram Manohar Lohia.

His second step was the JP movement which is considered by many as the best thing that happened to Indian politics but it is also gave the idea that ideology does not matter.

Once ideology does not matter, you swear by the name of development.

But building a road is not building a society.

Building a hospital does not mean building democracy.

Political process, social gathering is very different from building something that is physical in nature.

There are many countries in the Arab world that are developed, but their political, social, intellectual development is far behind.

Where does this leave Lalu?

Lalu is credited for what he has done for social justice, but he is discredited for the harm he has done to the emergence of a new class people.

The proof of an organised force is an unquestioned leader.

The advantage the BJP has is that all other parties are devoid of a leader.

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Archana Masih /