The grand old family reunion has finally occurred. In a script matching a Bollywood tearjerker, chote bhaiya Nitish Kumar patched up with bade bhaiya Lalu Prasad Yadav after two decades, to reportedly thwart the common enemy at the Centre. Whether Rashtriya Janata Dal's Lalu and Janata Dal (United)'s Nitish succeed in stopping BJP's juggernaut will be only be known later, but former Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has certainly fallen from the moral high ground he claimed to occupy.
Nearly two decades ago, Nitish Kumar formed the Samata party after breaking away from Lalu Prasad Yadav. In time, he achieved many milestones including a hugely successful stint as the Chief Minister of Bihar. His development work attracted rave reviews and even grudging acknowledgment from political adversaries. But in all that time, Nitish and Lalu were at loggerheads. As late as in 2012, referring to Lalu and Rabri, Nitish said that the duo had completely damaged Bihar's future. Lalu too returned the favour by repetedly launching a personal tirade against Nitish. Last year, when Nitish broke ties with the BJP, Lalu slammed him as a political opportunist. He also dubbed Nitish as the most greedy person he has ever seen.
But suddenly, these two political leaders have taken a U-turn to "save the country from divisive forces." It is the same old lexicon of communalism v/s secularism which has been repeated ad nauseam in the last couple of decades. Instead of examining the people's decisive mandate for development, Nitish and Lalu have cobbled up a ramshackle alliance and are hoping that the caste equations somehow stack up in their favour. While this is extremely common for political parties, in the case of Nitish Kumar who projected himself as a person with a high moral high ground, it reeks of hypocrisy.
When Nitish broke away from the BJP last year, many questioned his silence when the 2002 riots took place in Gujarat. Nitish had maintained that he was breaking away as Modi was about to be coronated as the prime ministerial candidate of BJP. In the process, he went against the flow and suffered a crushing defeat in the elections. Later, he still tried to keep his reputation intact as a person who followed his ideals by giving away the chief minister's post. But this was half-hearted as he nominated a trusted aide, who has already gone on to say that Nitish Kumar will be the chief minister if they win the next election.
Now, by allying with a corruption-tainted politician, Nitish's reputation has suffered an indelible blow. It will extremely difficult to logically explain the rationale of his decision without invoking the bogey of communalism. Nitish Kumar will be seen from a prism as a politician who is at best friends with, and at worse complicit with those having serious corruption charges against them. All the goodwill accrued by Nitish through the years through his no nonsense approach to corruption and quest for development is on the brink of getting wiped out.