Sunday, July 26, 2015

Nitish Kumar - Thy Name is Blind Arrogance

The Original Ghar Wapasi of Nitish Kumar (Courtesy BBC News Hindi)
In the Mahabharata, Kurukshetra Parva brings to highlight the aggrieved arrogance of Dhritrashtra. He let the war happen not because he wanted his son to be king; rather, it was his love of power and his perceived right to be king that was the dharmaprasna that needed resolution. Blindness was not just physical in his case. One must also realize that Dhritrashtra's blindness was not just physical but symbolic too - he became blind to the decay of Hastinapura by becoming oblivious to the affairs of the state and instead indulging in holding on to power at any cost.

The reason why I draw the analogy of the Mahabharata is because of recent happenings in Bihar. In a spur of the moment, Laloo Prasad Yadav, that great scion of politics, compared Narendra Modi to Kamsa, a character overlapping between the Mahabharata and the Srimad Bhagvatam. In the midst of it all, Nitish Kumar started playing his own mindgames within and without by calling some random person a snake and compared himself to sandalwood, though clearly it seems that the ploy to brand Narendra Modi ended up branding his one time bĂȘte noire and now ally Laloo Yadav as the black venomous cobra. As the Bihar assembly election heats up, the jibes are only getting sharper, and the rhetoric shriller. However, much has to be made of the man named Nitish Kumar, who is currently the Chief Minister of Bihar, and is witnessing its slide back into ignonimy.

Surviving  the 2014 Tsunami (Courtesy Niti Central and Manoj Kureel)
Bihar is waking up to the same nightmare that it had experienced in the nineties when the might of Laloo Yadav, who was brought in by Nitish Kumar's coterie as a backward candidate like Karpuri Thakur, came to the fore. The term jungle raj is a very mild term for what he managed to achieve - utter disregard for law, scant attention to economics of the state, and complete chaos in terms of trying to turn the tables of caste supremacy. If Mr Yadav is credited for breaking caste monopolies in Bihar, I disagree strongly - one forgets the never ending fight between the Ranvir Sena and the Maoist Communist Cadre (now merged into the Naxal movement) that was witnessed much like Nero fiddled as Rome burnt to ashes.

Nitish Kumar as Chief Minister is not covered in glory either. The Education Department of the state, which reports directly to him, saw a recruitment scam that put the Haryana saga to shame. Twenty thousand teachers with forged degrees were hired by Mr Kumar's government, wilfully blind to what happens to the already dead education sector of Bihar. Unlike Haryana, where the then Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala anda his son went to jail, Mr Nitish Kumar has been chafing in even getting an inquiry started. Ever since Law and Order came back to his party post his divorce from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Janata Parivar Chief Minister's government has seen crime statistics shoot through the roof. All this while he installed a puppet, Jitan Ram Manjhi, in order to kill two birds with a stone - win back Dalit votes while also pretend atonement for the loss of face for Janata Dal (United) in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. And in the desperate attempt to hold on to power at any cost, he buried his differences with bĂȘte noire Laloo Yadav, at the cost of much public ridicule and loss of face. All this while the state continued to go from one low to another in all areas.

Fact of the matter is that Nitish Kumar today is a pale shadow of his former self. He never had voter credibility, since he comes from the Legislative Council of Bihar, and has not contested Assembly elections to date. His plan of going against Narendra Modi was driven by an over eager media eager to portray him as a consensus candidate for Prime Ministership from the National Democratic Alliance despite having no seats outside Bihar in the Lok Sabha. Nitish Kumar fell for the idea, and since eaten much humble sattu, for which he has paid much politically. His recent dalliances with Arvind Kejriwal is in the hopes that Kejriwal's sway over Purvanchali voters in Delhi may also rub off in Bihar in an effort that is pulling no stops. And in the midst of this attempt to save his relevance in Bihar and in the national political scene, the man is turning a blind eye to the various areas that need immediate attention. However, his sense of being the rightful claimant to the Chief Ministership has been coming to the fore in the arrogant mannerisms on display in recent interviews, which makes one view him with a mix of anger, disgust and utter pity, much of which one feels for Dhritrashtra of Mahabharata.

And so, while the land of Panchala slides into a never ending abyss, the Mahabharata is being scripted all over again. This time, like always, there are no victors - only losers. And Nitish Kumar, whether he wins or loses this battle, lost the perception battle long long ago. Thy name Nitish Kumar is not Nitish Kumar, for you are the modern day Dhritrashtra - blind to the decay taking place, while arrogance of the self assumed right to power has gone to your head.

The Economic Slowdown Needs Immediate Address

The Buck Stops With the Duo (Courtesy: Bloombergquint) The fracas in Maharashtra notwithstanding, things are at a critical juncture ...