Nitish Kumar became the centerpiece of maha-gathbandan or Grand Alliance with Lalu Yadav and Congress.
New Delhi/ Patna:
After Prime Minister Narendra Modi crushed it in Uttar Pradesh, delivering to his party a record win, opposition leaders are promoting a coalition of non-BJP parties as the primary need for the general election in 2019. Few have been faster to embrace that #RelationshipGoal than Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal United or JDU, whose leaders are aglow in the fact that it's Bihar that is being held up as the prototype for countering the BJP.
Yesterday, in the state legislature, Neeraj Kumar, a lawmaker from the Chief Minister's party said, "In the given situation, Nitish Kumar 's the most competent and credible face to lead an anti-BJP front." The suggestion was seconded by Illayas Husain, a leader from ally Lalu Yadav's party, who described Mr Kumar as Chandragupta, the emperor famous for good governance, and Lalu as Chanakya, the king's politically shrewd strategist.
In 2015, Mr Kumar, then seeking a third consecutive term, became the centerpiece of the now-storied maha-gathbandan
or Grand Alliance that entwined him with former rival Lalu and the Congress. Like in UP this year, the Prime Minister gave the BJP's campaign his all, commanding enormous audiences to his rallies and punting on serving as the face of the initiative -no presumptive Chief Minister was named. It was, however, the alliance that triumphed, serving the BJP a rare loss since it came to power at the centre in 2014.
A leader from Lalu Yadav's party described Nitish Kumar as Chandragupta and Mr Yadav as Chanakya.
However, the reaction to the 'Nitish for 2019' proposal from Mr Kumar's junior ally, the Congress, amounted to a giant hmmph. "All these talks are premature and only an act of sycophancy," said Ashok Chaudhary, who heads the party in Bihar and is a member of the cabinet. The Congress, rendered politically gaunt by a series of electoral losses, holds that its Vice President Rahul Gandhi, who led the party's disastrous bid of Uttar Pradesh, must soon be promoted to party chief, a post currently held by his mother Sonia Gandhi. Like Lalu, its equation with Mr Kumar has been tested by the Chief Minister's cheerleading of PM Modi's demonetization move, which was denounced by all opposition leaders except him.
Lalu and his wife, Rabri Devi, have recently been mooting a retirement plan not just for themselves but for the Chief Minister, stating that it's time for "younger leaders to take over", a naked petitioning of promotions for their sons who are ministers in the government.