Nitish Kumar, a suave and soft spoken since the initial days of students movement in Bihar in middle of 1970s under the leadership of Lok Nayak Jayprakash Narayan, was silent operator in playing the games of politics. After the emergency was lifted and election of Lok Sabha was ordered in 1977, Nitish Kumar was ignored by JP and his coterie, thanks to the manoeuvrings of the then Jansangh and RSS ,which became part of the then Janata Party led by Chandra Shekhar. Almost all important JP movement activists were awarded with Janata Party nominations to contest Lok sabha elections in 1977-but this man Nitish Kumar did not find berth in the nomination of Janata Party from Barh parliamentary constituency. A sad and pained, Nitish Kumar kept silence but creating a little bit murmur in Janata Party political circles.
Many people, sympathetic to Nitish including myself were very much resentful-but the harm is done! The then Jan sangh constituent of the Janata Party, nominated former mayor of Calcutta Ram Lakhan Prasad to contest from Barh because of his RSS background. The Janata Party won the Lok Sabha election with massive votes and majority not only in Bihar but in entire country. Nitish Kumar was left high and dry by hardcore Jansangh and RSS people and he developed deep-rooted hatred towards Jansangh constituent of Janta Party and RSS! At the time of split in Janata Party and fall of first non-congress government led by Morarjee Desai, on dual membership -of party and RSS- Nitish used to speak harshly against them with volume of hatred towards Jan sangh and RSS in public and private conversations.
But time is great healing factor and after many political developments, Nitish became star personality of now Bharatiya Janata party, a coalition partner of his Janta Dal (U) and remained union minister with important portfolios in Atal Behari Vajpayee government and subsequently in coalition with BJP humiliated Laloo Prasad Yadav in the assembly elections-and this is second time that he became chief minister of Bihar, heading Janata Dal(U)-BJP coalition government in Bihar! Nitish was also a close confidant of former prime minister Vishwanath Pratap Singh and became minister in his government after the ousting of Rajiv gandhi in the Lok sabha elections on Bofor scandal issue.During those days, there were many stories on Nitish, rumoured in Delhi about his personal character-it will be better for me not to write all those things at this time.
Gradually , with passing of time and political circumstances, Nitish also changed his political colours and adjusted with his principles, sauve and soft characters. Nitish was so closed to Laloo Prasad Yadav that both Nitish and Laloo were called "Ranga-Billa" in Bihar politics. But again time changed and being antagonised with Laloo, Nitish split the party and separated from Laloo and formed Samata Party under the leadership of his political Guru of that time George Fernandes.But due to lack of mass base appeal like Laloo, Nitish started changing track of his political workmanship. He started garnering his own caste-Kurmi- and after holding many caste-based rallies during those days, Nitish became a champion of his own caste men and in the process became "Kurmi chieftain" like former chief minister, Satyendra Narayan Sinha as "Rajput chieftain". Since than Nitish became too much aggressive against Laloo after mobilising his own caste men-but this politics of Nitish did not click and in the assembly elections of that time Nitish could not muster enough seats and remained high and dry. Than in the process Nitish had taken help of many Laloo's own men in politics including Sharad Yadav and got him joined the new party JD(U) and broad based the organisation and to defeat Laloo, Nitish joined hands with BJP, which was once poison for him when he was ditched after emergency in getting party nomination from Barh Lok sabha seat and subsequently he used to consider BJP , an arch enemy of backward class in implementing Mandal commission reservation to OBC during Vishwanath Pratap government at the centre and a bundle of communal forces in demolition of Babari masjid.
Nitish's allergy with media is not new! During Samata party days, Nitish became instrumental in writings to various newspapers and news magazines about unnecessary and uncalled for praise to chief minister Laloo Prasad Yadav. That time , the Samata party got a cupon published in the denomnomination of Rs 50, Rs 100, Rss 200 Rs 500 etc to collect "chanda" in the name of party fund "and removing Laloo from power and becoming chief minister of Bihar". The chanda campaign was mainly taken up by his own caste men. Many kurmi leaders used to collect chanda by selling coupons forcibly- in the process, a group of Nitish caste men encountered a passerby, who happened to be journalist, and forced him to buy coupon -reluctantly that journalist purchased the coupon and got rid of Nitish hoodlums. But the matter did not end there- the whole fact was published in an national english daily prominently with scanned coupon. lot of furore had taken place and Nitish approached the proprietor of that national English daily through a letter , written by the then general secretary of Samata party Jaya Jaitley, abusing, cursing the journalists and asking the management to dismiss him. A delegation of Samata party , comprising frequent party changer Shivanand tiwari, Lallan singh, now MP of JD(U), and many others met local management and resident editor of the said national english daily. There was time when press freedom and factual journalism was respected by everyone , particularly proprietor of the newspaper. Everything was looked into and complaint of Nitish against the journalist was ignored and that journalist was promoted subsequently and retired from that newspaper, may be still living and watching vindictiveness of Nitish Kumar, who is replca ting all his characters vigorously during his chief ministership1 Nitish has become past master in imposing "undeclared censorship" in the last six years- proprietors, journalists are given tasks by Nitish government not publish adverse reports in their newspapers and in lieu Nitish government has opened floods of advertisements to newspapers and other mode of media, putting heavy burden on state exchequer. Nitish looks journalists with contempt and very much helpful to amenable journalists!
Because of his political obstinacy and lack of political farsightedness and his role in not getting reservation to OBC during the chief minister ship of Karpoori Thakur, Nitish remained in political oblivion for many years. Nitish finally , perhaps, became legislator in 1980 from an assembly constituency in Nalanda district.By look Nitish appears a gentleman par excellence but his real face lies else where. He is shrewed politician, having many merits and demerits, political trade secrets, his hidden agenda of authoritarian style of functioning, ignoring his close party colleagues and dumping them like anything etc unlike a true politician!
Before I forget an important events, this writer had very close liaison with Nitish during his initial and ripe political days. Nitish and myself used to meet very frequently to exchange our views on many political events- he and myself were very respectful to each other. We shared many political and other developments in Bihar and other parts of the country at national -level- it will not be proper to reveal all those things at this moment.But sadly and strangely , although I am a journalists, myself became the targets of Nitish's ire many times including public meetings in which he used to even call my names. But there were days when I was said to be useful for him. A time had come, Nitish was landed in serious trouble while contesting re-election on Laloo's party nomination from Barh lok sabha seat- T N Sheshan , who was chief election commissioner, found malpractices in the elections and ordered re poll in nearly 80 booths-this would have ultimately changed the impact of result. Nitish and many of his well wishers called me up and asked me a factual report over the issue so that re poll in many booths, which have been included unnecessarily should be reduced . At about 8 in the morning I had gone to meet Nitish in his Punaichak official quarter, allotted to him by Laloo. There were virtual tears in his eyes and he narrated verbatim everything to me that complaints are were exaggerated. I had written a story, based on Nitish version, official and chief electoral officer sources. Result- re poll in booths were reduced to about 28 booths from over 80.Nitish won the election with flying colours and we used to meet regularly either in social calls or in political circles. But his face used to indicate hatred towards journalists1 I must cite one recent example- I was and am in trouble because of block officials high-handedness over a piece of land of mine-i had gone to Janata Darwar of Nitish and after eight hours strenuous efforts I could meet to submit my application to Nitish- he failed to even recognise me what to expect a kind words about my complaints to him in the durwar ( I have written a story on Nitish Janta darwar or feudal darwar, published in many news websites including Bihar times.com, newspapers and news magazines).
Everybody was happy with the installation of Nitish as chief minister six years back and myself was also in the same category that at least one sincere politician has become chief minister to get rid of misrule of Laloo and his company Ltd. for 15 years. Nitish also started on right tracks- improvement on many fronts were visible, particularly law and order front. people started living in peace- one commoner of remote Purnia district village told me four years back, " what Nitish or Laloo give us -we are living in the same condition -but in Nitish regime -we lead our life peacefully and at least sleep peacefully in the night", he added. I feel this is not an ordinary commentary by a commoner-Nitish efforts started percolating at ground level. but his much-publicised measures on land reforms, health , education, poverty alleviation programmes etc are trapped in bureaucratic cobweb. Less said is better about corruption in Nitish government-it is flourishing right from panchayat-block level to secretariat headquarters level. transfers and postings on money changing have taken drivers' seat during Nitish regime like Jagannath Mishra and Laloo regimes. Perhaps Nitish has become tiered! and his coalition compulsion compelled him to go slow. Not only that Nitish is like previous occasions gradually sidelining his trusted colleagues in the party and the government. many of his hardcore supporters and socialist brand politicians have deserted him because of his highhandedness and authoritarian style. Only sychophants in the party and government are ruling in his regime.Nitish , no doubt, was sincerely striving to develop Bihar, but he has become cold in his second term. Let us hope for the best from Nitish, comparatively a better politician to run the affairs of Bihar in comparison to other politicians of Bihar currently!
(More I will try to write in another piece on Nitish Kumar later on)