While India is fixated on Kejriwal, there is a much more serious political drama going on in Bihar. While BJP lost Delhi, Bihar will have new political equations favorable to BJP. The was the Bihar fight erupted between Ex- Chief Minister Nitesh Kumar and present Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi has become a comedy and Nitesh Kumar looks like the comedian . Delhi is a small state with 7 MPs and Bihar has 40 MPs. What happens in Bihar is closely watched by Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bengal, Odisha and Chhattisgarh. Nitesh Kumar is facing a very embarrassing situation as one of his followers has rebelled. “A man in my position cannot afford to look ridiculous “said a famous Hollywood film producer in the greatest film “The Godfather. Nitesh Kumar looks ridiculous now. In May, 2014, after Nitesh Kumar’s party lost the Parliament elections, he resigned from post of Chief Minister, saying he was morally responsible. The country applauded him for his principled stance. Instead of appointing a senior and powerful minister as Chief Minister, Nitesh Kumar appointed a docile Dalit leader Jitan Ram Manjhi as Chief Minister.
Jitan Ram Manjhi had served as ministerin Nitesh Kumar’s cabinet. Before joining JD (U), Manjhi was a member of Congress, Janata Dal and Rashtriya Janata Dal . The media and other politicians applauded Nitesh Kumar for having made a very clever move to appoint a Dalit as Chief Minister.
In fact, Nitesh Kumar could have chosen the senior most politicians Sharad Yadav as Chief Minister. But Nitesh Kumar chooses a docile Manjhi instead. Nitesh Kumar now wants to remove Manjhi as Chief Minister and Manjhi his humble follower has rebelled. Manjhi refused to be a puppet. Day by day, Jitan Ram Manjhi was becoming more independent and Nitesh Kumar started getting worried. In fact, Nitesh Kumar became a laughing stock amongst politicians as his own choice turned against him.
Nitesh Kumar was actually riding a tiger. If he removed Jitan Ram Manhji, then he would make Dalits angry and BJP was ready to support Manjhi. If he allowed Jitan Ram Manjhi to continue as Chief Minister, then Nitesh Kumar was losing his base in Bihar. Finally, Nitesh Kumar decided that he had to sack the Chief Minister and get the post back. Angry Jitan Ram Manjhi has threatened to dissolve the Bihar assembly.
The whole problem is that big politicians like weak people around them. They like followers to be and act stupid there are a number of instances in India where politicians like Nitesh Kumar appointed weak leaders as their successors and found that they rebelled.
A good example recently was rebellion of Jayanthi Natarajan, a Congress Rajya Sabha M.P. for 27 years, who left the party and abused Sonia and Rahul Gandhi very badly. Jayanthi Natarajan has no base at all in Tamilnadu. By clever sycophancy and manipulations she managed to be in Rajya Sabha for 27 years and was Minister for many years. The Gandhis thought she was a loyal weak person and gave her importance. But finally, she rebelled when she thought that Gandhis and Congress cannot do anything more for her. Had the Gandhis won the election, Natarajan would have kept quiet.
A better example of a weak leader getting highest posts and rebelling against his benefactor is Sitaram Kesri who was made Congress President by P.V. Narasimha Rao in 1997. After the Congress lost the elections in 1996, P.V. Narasimha Rao resigned as prime minister. He continued to be the Congress President and also Leader of the opposition in Parliament. Some petty cases were filed against Narasimha Rao and there was a demand he quit. On January 3, 1997, Sitaram Kesri was made Leader of Congress Parliamentary Party with blessings of Narasmha Rao. Within days, Kesri demanded Narasimha Rao resign as Congress President and Narasimha Rao had to resign.
Narasimha Rao had a choice between Sharad Pawar and Sitaram Kesri. Narasimha Rao chooses a total sycophant. Had Narasimha Rao chosen Sharad Pawar to Leader of the Congress, he would never have destroyed Narasimha Rao . But Narasimha Rao was afraid of a strong man and chooses a sycophant. A bad choice and Narasimha Rao lost everything.
Laloo Prasad Yadav was Chief Minister of Bihar for many years from 1989. He got involved in corruption cases and had to resign. Instead of making any one of his colleagues as Chief Minister, he chooses his wife Rabri Devi, who was a housewife. This showed his distrust of his colleagues. That started downfall of Laloo Prasad.
Nitesh Kumar is a very shrewd politician and from 1977 occupied a variety of posts. But he felt helpless in a party where Laloo Prasad Yadav was the boss. He left the RJD and started the Samta party with George Fernandez and became a central minister in Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s cabinet. His alliance with BJP in Bihar made him Chief Minister in November, 2005. Everything went well and Nitesh Kumar and BJP won a second term in 2010. It was during the second term that Nitesh Kumar started expressing doubts whether Narendra Modi should ever lead the BJP. Nitesh Kumar became Chief Minister as an ally of the BJP. As the demand grew for Narenda Modi to become the Prime minister candidate of the BJP, Nitesh Kumar started saying that if Modi becomes the leader, he will break the alliance with the BJP.
Bihar has a Muslim population of 20%. He wanted to get some of their votes, since his main rival Laloo Prasad Yadav got the Muslim vote bank. There is a strong feeling that some BJP leaders wanted to use Nitesh Kumar to stop Narenda Modi and put pressure on RSS and BJP not to select Modi as Prime Minister Candidate. But it did not work as in September, 2013, the BJP selected Modi as their PM candidate. Immediately Nitesh Kumar broke the alliance with the BJP. But he survived as Chief Minister since Congress and Laloo Yadav supported him.
Bihar has 40 MPs. Nitesh kumar challenged the BJP to win them. The BJP and its allies won 33 of the 40 MPs. Nitesh Kumar immediately resigned and selected the humble Dalit Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi as Chief Minister. Everyone praised Nitesh Kumar. But Manjhi is a seasoned politician and wanted to continue as Chief Minister and he challenged Nitesh Kumar.
So Nitesh Kumar ordered a meeting of MLAs to remove Manjhi. But Manjhi outplayed Nitesh Kumar and threatened to dissolve the Assembly. This was something Nitesh Kumar never expected. There was a peace meeting between Nitesh Kumar and Manjhi. But Manjhi asked Nitesh to step back and not ask him to resign. This shocked Nitesh Kumar. Sitaram Kesri did the same thing to Narasimha Rao.
Most humiliating was that now Nitesh Kumar had to depend on Laloo Yadav, his enemy of 20 years. For 20 years, Nitesh Kumar and Laloo Prasad Yadav abused each other on a daily basis. Bihar is watching this comedy with great amusement. Laloo cannot forget that Nitesh harassed him from 1994 and was responsible for Laloo going to jail.
Nitesh Kumar need not have broken the alliance with BJP when Modi was appointed PM candidate. He need not have resigned when his party got only 2 MPs. But he wanted to live the lie that he was a very principled man. He only wanted Manhji to keep the chair warm like Lord Rama’s brother did in Ayodha. But Manhji has stopped that dream since he believed that Nitesh Kumar was no Lord Rama but a shrewd politician.
Here again, Nitesh Kumar did what P.V. Naraishma Rao and other politicians do. They select weak people for office but sometimes the weak person is a great actor , waiting to strike and Manjhi is a great actor and damaged Nitesh Kumar viciously . Even Indira Gandhi favored weak sycophants as Chief Ministers. She also paid the price for such actions. In 9 months, Manjhi built a great reputation as not only a Dalit leader, but other communities too. Whatever happens, it is obvious that Nitesh Kumar has landed in trouble. He lost his friends and is now dependent for mercy on Laloo whom he sent to jail. Not a very comfortable place to be in.
Manjhi might or might not continue with BJP support as chief Minister. Or there might be President’s rule. But the planned road is not easy for Nitesh Kumar.
The battle has begun and I will not run away from it, said Manhji yesterday to Nitesh Kumar. Narendra Modi may be laughing un-controllably. Who is not amused by a fight between a leader and his docile follower, who becomes a rebel ?