Nitish Kumar leaves Bihar political pot boiling amid transition talks

One informal statement from Bihar’s longest-serving chief minister Nitish Kumar about his interest in going to the Rajya Sabha, the only House he has not represented in his over four-decade-long political career, has left the state’s political pot boiling.

While the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) leaders have been fast to play down Kumar’s remark and maintained that he will be at the helm till 2024, experts view it differently, as the statement came from a man who is known for speaking in measured tone weighing all pros and cons.

In the last two months, there have been a lot of developments pointing to Kumar’s entry into national politics. His name was first floated as the Opposition presidential candidate. This indicated that the Opposition’s eyes were still on him to work out a formidable strategy against the NDA ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections and the President’s election could be one big opportunity to test how far it could go. Kumar’s outburst in the Bihar Legislative Assembly at speaker Vijay Kumar Sinha is also seen as an extension of the brewing discontent due to diminishing clout in a State Kumar ruled on his terms since 2005.

“His (Nitish Kumar’s) assertion about Rajya Sabha cannot be dismissed as an off the cuff remark and things will gradually unfold,” said political analyst Prof Nawal Kishore Choudhary.

“This may be Kumar’s way of exerting pressure on the BJP. His one remark has made him a point of discussion across the country. In politics, bargaining is a norm and even smaller parties are at times able to call the shots,” he said.