Bihar Elections: Nitish Kumar Tantrik-ed by BJP

25Oct Bihar Election


BJP leader and union Minister Giriraj Singh has released on social media a video that shows JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar visiting a ‘tantrik’ to seek his blessings. The video shows the tantric raising slogans in support of Nitish Kumar and giving him blessings for a victory. What’s interesting is that the same tantric is also shown raising anti-Lalu slogans. Which raises two questions; how old is this video and why does Nitish Kumar feel the need to reach out to a tantrik?

JD(U) has of course dismissed the video saying that it’s an old one dating back to June 2014, and further condemned BJP for stooping to low levels of politics. Coming from JD(U) the remark itself is amusing, as all sides have been stooping to low levels by calling each other all kinds of outrageous and insulting names. But there could be merit in the video being an old one since the tantrik is seen being vocal about his anti-Lalu stance. Lalu Prasad on his part has dismissed it casually saying he was the biggest tantrik, in true Lalu style.

So why does Nitish Kumar feel the need to seek a tantrik’s blessings? The answer could be a simple one that as many people in India, he too has his beliefs that are personal and is free to practice them. But for a politician that would be too simplistic. Politicians are known to make a beeline, especially when elections are due, to all kinds of sadhus and seers, as also temples, in an attempt to be seen as religious, and of course earn a Hindu voter connect. After all their votes do matter.

So, is this video ‘leak’ likely to hurt Nitish Kumar? Barring a day’s embarrassment, not really. If at all, the people will appreciate his seeking a tantrik’s blessing, as most people are still deeply religious in Bihar and frequently visit various sadhus, ashrams and temples.

Is Jitan Manjhi having second thoughts on the alliance?

Political ambitions in politics can be tricky business as it can build or break relationships. When Jitan Manjhi left the JD(U) camp or rather was forced to part, he hoped BJP would seize the chance to win over a segment that they never really had support of, and he was probably right. BJP did take him in and did see the value of what he could bring to the table. In fact, it was Manjhi’s coming closer to BJP that made the party re-work its strategy in Bihar and look at consolidating the effort in reaching out to the entire segment of Dalit, Mahadalit, EBC, OBC, SC/ST and towards that, roped in LJP and RLSP into its fold.

The problem is of perception. While Jitan Manjhi began to believe that he was the new face of the backwards, he was also convinced that BJP needed him to win Bihar and that the party would need to put back a Dalit as the CM, if it came to power. That belief stands till date. But this belief also caused him grief when BJP clearly recognized Ram Vilas Paswan and Upendra Kushwaha as bigger and more influential leaders in Bihar by allocating more seats to their respective party than Manjhi’s HAM-S. Jitan Manjhi has been sulking since then but had little choice or excuse to do anything about it.

Just the other day, Amit Shah clarified that the party had made no commitment regarding Jitan Manjhi becoming the CM if NDA came to power. That has killed any hopes that Manjhi nursed of coming back as CM.

But now with Gen VK Singh coming out with his ‘dog’ remark, Manjhi sees a chance to possibly get back at the BJP and is calculating his options. His party spokesperson, Danish Rizwan, expressed the party’s disappointment and disapproval of Gen Singh’s remark and has rejected Gen Singh’s subsequent apology. Furthermore, the party has asked the PM to take action against Gen Singh and remove him from his post. The party has kept its options open by saying it will wait and watch how the PM responds before deciding the next course of action.

Is this the moment Manjhi has been waiting for? He realizes that his value will last only till the elections when the BJP needs him most. If BJP does well on its own accord, his role will be relegated to that of a minor alliance partner. The next few days will reveal which way Manjhi swings. With elections due on 28 October he will have to take an early call.

Third Front loses ‘Nagmani’ to JD(U)

Samras Samaj Party (SSP) leader and Third Front alliance partner Nagmani, has walked out of the alliance and has joined the Mahagathbandhan. The reason cited was that he saw Mulayam Singh emerging as BJP’s ‘agent’ and hence wanted to part ways and join a ‘secular’ alliance.

As with many leaders in Bihar, he too has a history of party hopping. Left out in the cold, the former union Minister formed his own party, Samras Samaj Party (SSP). Coming from the ‘Kushwaha’ community, he does have some following though his influence is in limited pockets only. His father Jagdev Prasad, was a popular leader of the OBCs and although Nagmani does not command his father’s popularity, he still has a following within the Kushwaha community.

The party is contesting 12 constituencies, of which, five will be fought in the coming phases of polling. He himself has contested from Kurtha in Arwal district, while his wife Suchitra Sinha, has contested the polls from Morwa in Samastipur district. His entry into the Mahagathbandhan is more a moral victory for the alliance but deals a major blow to whatever is left of Mulayam Singh’s Third Front.

Mulayam Singh finds himself out of the equation and he has only himself and his ego to blame for ending up an insignificant player in Bihar, despite having the best of opportunity to remain in the forefront, given his ‘family ties’ with Lalu Prasad, through the marriage of his nephew with Lalu’s daughter. Mulayam Singh now finds himself in a quandary on what next. He probably will wait and watch the election results before deciding his next course of action.