Nitish' Options

हिन्दी: देश के उप राष्ट्रपति मोहम्मद हामिद अंस...
हिन्दी: देश के उप राष्ट्रपति मोहम्मद हामिद अंसारी पटना में पूर्व मुख्यमंत्री सत्येन्द्र नारायण सिन्हा(छोटे साहब) की 94वीं जयंती पर आयोजित व्याख्यानमाला श्रंखला पर पूर्व सांसद किशोरी सिन्हा और मुख्यमंत्री नीतीश कुमार के साथ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Word is Nitish does not want to ally with Laloo for 2015. What might Nitish be thinking?

Nitish should not be surprised that Modi won. It was a contest between Modi and Rahul, and the people picked Modi. Can you blame them?

One of Bill Clinton's laws of politics is, all elections are about the future. It does not matter that you gave Bihar eight good years. The people wanted a strong hand in Delhi, and they got it.

The Third Front did not exist before the elections. And it does not exist today. Jayalalita and Patnaik are prepared to deal with Modi one on one.

Those who aspire for leadership should lead. If Nitish has pan Indian ambitions he should act like it. But all his stated ambitions are to do with Bihar.

And there it might be hard to go solo. Or maybe not.

I don't think reviving his alliance with the BJP is an option. The departure was too clear. Maybe there is no going back there.

I think you are looking at a BJP government in Uttar Pradesh in a few years. Either it will be a Nitish sweep in Bihar next year, or perhaps the BJP will grab Bihar too. Looks like the BJP is also in a good position to wrest the Delhi state government.

Modi will do better in 2019 than he did in 2014. Because I expect him to perform. So the real challenge is how many states will the BJP rule? I can imagine the BJP might want to rule a majority of the states.

Nitish could accept defeat, or he could lead. He performed better as Chief Minister than Modi in Gujrat. He knows how to play the caste equations. Recently the Congress followed Nitish' lead. Nitish installed a Dalit Chief Minister. Subsequently Sonia installed a Dalit to lead the Congress in the Lok Sabha.

Laloo should be given credit for his stint as Railway Minister. He was excellent. The safe route would be to forge a JD(U)-RJD-Congress alliance in Bihar. But if Nitish is going solo, and the Congress is going solo, and the RJD is going solo, and the BJP keeps its alliance intact, then you just might see a BJP government in Bihar next year: Modi in Delhi, another Modi in Patna.

Why did Nitish ditch Modi? Did he do it for Advani? He kept saying the BJP should get someone else from its own ranks. So Modi is communal and Advani is not?

I think there is a clear case to be made along the so-called secular lines. All of the BJP's MPs are Hindu. That does not speak to India's diversity. Just because they won does not make it right. There is room for Nitish, sure. He can outcompete Modi on development. And he can offer a more diverse face, one that in inclusive and respectful of India's second largest group, the Muslims.

But that would require stepping up to the plate.

The BJP's emergence in West Bengal means even there now there is some room for the Left and Mamata to perhaps work together.

But now is not the time for such talk. Today is Modi's day. I give Modi two years to take India's growth rates to 10 per cent and beyond. That is my personal benchmark for him.

I hope Nitish makes a comeback in Bihar. I like the guy.

Modi might stay Prime Minister for 10, maybe even 15 years, and if he does that would mean Nitish will never get to be Prime Minister. Or Nitish could pull his weight, and run Bihar for 10 glorious years, and then hope to take to the helm in Delhi for five years. But that would require architecting a pan Indian opposition.
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