Silence may be golden for Nitish but it is a killer for Lalu's critics
Patna: The neutrality and silence of Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar on the raids conducted by the Central Bureau of Investigation on a large number of locations associated with his political enemy-turned- friend Lalu Prasad Yadav on Friday has baffled every one in he state who loves to hate the latter.
His absence from the state capital during the raids and the day that followed them, which is attributed to his health, has also surprised many. All of them would like his disassociation with Lalu or removal of his sons from the coalition.
Nitish had also evaded questions on the raids which were carried by some Income Tax officials on the premises of his family members including his Rajya Sabha-member-daughter Misa Bharti .
A common belief in the state is that he is yet undecided about the role he should play and, therefore, keeping all options open. He has taken surprise decisions in the past and may repeat them. A couple of years ago when he was still with the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) he had surprised every one by announcing support to Pranab Mukherjee who had been fielded by the rival, the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) , for the presidential election.
Recently, he had assured support to Ram Nath Kovind who is the nominee of the NDA, the group he has walked out from. He created a flutter again when he announced that he would not back the NDA candidate for the vice-presidential election.
It is not that he has a fickle nature or that he does not take a stand or decision. He is a man of principles and generally takes his decision independently. The other difference is he has created an image about himself and does almost every thing to preserve it.
He has been seen as an honest, upright politician or "Sushasan Babu". He would not like this image to be dented. It may be one of the reasons why he not said anything on the raids. For, if he supports Lalu and his men who are facing corruption charges that will go against his image. On the other hand if he speaks against him and takes any action his government and the Mahagathbandhan may face trouble.
That may again lead to speculation that he is returning to the Bharatiya Janata Party fold. Rumour of his switch-over was also floated when he had backed demonetisation decision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the surgical strike against Pakistan.
Those who know him well are aware that he is very calculative and strikes only when needed and it is politically prudent to do so. He loves to keep every one guessing.
He is probably keeping quiet because it is not the right time to break away from the present alliance. In the BJP he will have to play a second fiddle as Modi has become a party's brand. He is unlikely to be ready at present for this position. Secondly, by breaking ranks or changing goalposts he may lose Muslim and Yadav support as they are solidly behind Lalu. The two account for nearly 31 per cent of the total electorate. Muslim voters constitute 16.8 per cent.
The present arrangement is much better in this light. It is not because he loves Lalu's company at this juncture but because there is no better option. His wait and watch which has baffled many may be understood in this background.