By Prashant Kumar
In the run up to the 2015 Bihar assembly elections scheduled for October-November, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar looks more “eager than desperate” as compared to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections where he seemed more “desperate than eager”. While the catchy slogans differ, the ruling party’s punch-line remains the same: “Phir ek baar Nitish Kumar”.
The flamboyant chief minister, who bit the dust in 2014 Lok Sabha elections, is going all out to counter Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the famous “Modi-way”, hiring the brain behind his smashing success through digitalized campaign – Prashant Kishor.
“The man wants to achieve that all over again, without the BJP. He has been hearing some jarring sounds with a formidable rival at work but he would do whatever it takes — from attacking Prime Minister Narendra Modi to brandishing his development plank to forging an alliance with long-time rival Lalu Prasad,” says the book whose publication is certainly well-timed with the crucial elections just a month away.
This is one of many interesting accounts that the book, written by Santosh Singh, offers. The book, whose cover portrays contrasting images of good governance and truth is described by the author, a journalist, as “an extension of my reporting”.
“He accepts making his campaign more organised than last time,” it adds.
“He has started knocking at the doors of the voters a bit early to remind them that it is an assembly election and Narendra Modi is not going to be the chief minister.” The author advocates that Nitish Kumar has “realised the value of brand-building belatedly, especially through unconventional and modern methods of social media”.
The book compares former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi’s emergence as a “leader” in nine months with the birth period of a child.
“A childbirth period of nine months has a great symbolism in the context of Manjhi. He was also born a leader in his nine-month tenure as Bihar chief minister. He chose his political birth as a Dalit leader as an afterthought.
“Manjhi had got his chance at the age of 70. After all in his last 34 years of political career, he had hardly done or said anything to get noticed, let alone trying to emerge as a leader of dalits,” the book says.
The book, however, describes central minister Ram Vilas Paswan, another Dalit face in Bihar, as a leader who “could have become a national dalit icon, but frittered away the opportunity because of his obsession with short-term politics and love for the comfort zone”.
From the rise of Lalu Prasad, the Rashtriya Janata Dal chief, to his growing influence and a massive debacle and from the rise in influence and governance of Nitish Kumar to the “political importance” of the Manjhi surname, the book, through 21 chapters, carries one through the political landscape of the state, which has been arguably the most misruled over the years.
The author sensibly narrates the stories of repair, hope and construction under Nitish Kumar, disillusionment and new political realignment after the 2013 NDA split, Nitish Kumar and Lalu Yadav coming together again after two decades and Nitish Kumar almost walking out of Lalu Yadav’s alliance.
The book also details the emergence of the BJP and the reunion of ‘Janata Family’.
(Prashant Kumar can be contacted at email@example.com. He tweets at @prashant_ians.)