Nitish, Bihar, And Development
|English: Flag of Janata Dal (United) of India (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
|Map of Bihar showing location of Bhimbandh Wildlife Sanctuary (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
|Lalu Prasad Yadav, at a political meeting in Kesariya, Bihar, India. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Right now the two alliances are running neck and neck. That means it will be a close fight next year in Bihar, but it is advantage BJP. Right now Sushil Modi is running ahead. In Bihar it might be 50-50. But in Uttar Pradesh it will be a total sweep by the BJP also at the state level.
Bihar is one place that could give Modi something akin to an opposition. And Modi in Gujrat was known as a man who brooks no opposition. His China model is not only economic, it is also political. He does not like the idea of having much of an opposition. And so he is going to do all he can to put Bihar into Sushil Modi's lap. Sushil Modi is not a bad candidate. He was deputy to Nitish in Bihar's spectacular success story. So he can legitimately take some credit.
If Narendra Modi could sweep Bihar as merely a prime ministerial candidate, imagine what he could do as a performing PM. And I expect him to perform.
Nitish has a tall task before him that has been made tougher by Lalu's mandal-kamandal talk. You can not beat Narendra Modi with that. The way to beat Narendra Modi is with development talk. Laloo was spectacular as Railway Minister, Nitish was the top performing Chief Minister in the country. It is not like they don't have it. But they are not talking development. That is problematic. Right now Nitish is all set to lose the elections next year.
Maybe the real story here is that his break up with the BJP was a bad move. Nitish was the first person to call Narendra Modi a future PM. That was back in 2003, I think. Looks like somewhere along the way he switched his position but has refused to play the role.
He could talk all development all the time and give Narendra Modi a run for the money. But he is not doing it. Puzzles me.
For now Narendra Modi is the man to watch. His political goal seems to be to form BJP governments in enough states that he also ends up with a majority in India’s upper house. His organization people have major plans for the North East and the South. Having a tight grip on the Hindi heartland of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh would go a long way.
All indications are Modi is on his way to giving India growth rates greater than seven per cent. He wants to double the size of the Indian economy by 2020.
Forget Bihar, Modi also has major plans for Nepal. His visit to the country was well appreciated. It felt like he truly wanted a fresh start in a relationship that has always been great but greatly unproductive. If load shedding ends in Nepal within a year or two, you will have Modi to thank for it. He means business.
I still stay curious about Nitish, though. He might have to stop crying hoarse, ke majdoori nahin mili, I did not get my wages. Like Bill Clinton would say, all elections are about the future. The people of Bihar chose to put Modi in Delhi. I am not sure that was a bad choice, economically speaking.
But now Nitish has to make a strong development case for the next five years for Bihar, or make way for Sushil Modi. It is not going to be an easy fight. The two Modis might have to show all tricks up their sleeves to rope in Nitish, once and for all.
The junior Modi is sure determined. Laloo is his usual comic self. Nitish looks a little tired, a little betrayed. He has not taken the latest political debacle too well.
Double digit growth rates are my benchmark, for Modi in Delhi, for the next Chief Minister of Bihar, and for all current and future Prime Ministers of Nepal. Delhi is a tall task, because coordinating all those states across India is no easy task. Patna? Nitish did it year after year. Nepal? Now that is the sad part.
Being in transition does not help. Not having a constitution does not help. There is also the no small matter of not having an obvious leader.