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New Challenges for Nitish Kumar After Wining Bihar Elections

November 9, 2015

Those who have watched the post-results press conference on Sunday (8 November), must have heard what Nitish Kumar said, “This is a huge victory which suggests people of Bihar have aspirations. We will match their expectations”. Deep inside, the new CM knows that it’s easier said than done. The euphoria over a clear mandate in favour of the Grand Alliance might disappear if he fails to move the wheels of good governance.

Is Nitish Kumar a Worried Man?

As the Chief Minister-designate waits for the oath-taking ceremony and BJP goes into introspection mode, it’s an apt time to explore the possible roadblocks that might come Nitish Kumar’s way.

Compulsion of Coalition Politics

Going by the statistics, Lalu Prasad Yadav’s party has won more seats (80) than Nitish Kumar’s JDU (71). The tally looks lot different than what we saw in 2010 when JDU won a thumping victory with 115 seats, leaving RJD far behind with 22 seats. Nitish Kumar government will be keenly watched to see whether it is cowing down before the compulsions of coalition politics.

Running a government in coalition with RJD is not going to be easy as both Lalu and Nitish have different styles of working and it is not surprising for scepticism to pop its head. If two heavyweights find themselves at loggerheads over clean and efficient administration, development of Bihar will become the scapegoat.

What about the Support from the Centre?

One of the initial reactions, and a forthright one, came from none other than the Union Finance Minster Arun Jaitley. While appreciating Nitish Kumar for contesting Bihar elections on the plank of governance and development, he pointed out that development in the state “happened at a very elementary level”. In a sort of a caveat to Nitish Kumar, Jaitley added, “If he continues on the path of development, he will have the support of the Centre”.

Rajnath Singh was, however, more unconditional in his remark when he referred to the Rs 1.25-lakh-crore economic package announced by the PM and asserted that the commitment will be “fulfilled by the Centre at all cost.” Nitish Kumar should read it as a dispassionate comment.

Poll Promises Need to be Kept

Be it the 24×7 power supply or piped water supply to each home, Nitish Kumar has made promises, which many say, are taller than expected. There’s not even an iota of lie in the fact that the state still fares poorly in development indices despite the little headway that Nitish made during his last stint. An initial calculation suggests that the government has to cough up Rs. 2.7 lakh crore to fulfil the poll promises and move on with the developmental agenda over the next five years.

On top of economic concerns, the shadow of unemployment is going to haunt him for some time. In this context, it must be said that Nitish will also have to allot a 35 per cent quota for women in government jobs.

It seems the long-known friend of Bihar has lot on his plate!

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