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JD(U) approaches Lok Sabha polls banking on “honest” and “nice” Nitish Kumar

Patna |┬áHe is honest and nice, let’s go with Nitish says the new poll catchphrase coined by the Bihar chief ministers party which is seeking to reinvent itself as an ally of the NDA, the coalition which it had dumped ahead of the previous Lok Sabha elections.

‘Sacha hai, acha hai, chalo Nitish ke saath’ is the message of the posters released at the JD(U) state headquarters here on Wednesday.

The subtext ‘Sankalp hamara NDA dobara (our resolve, NDA again) is also there but relegated to a corner, in smaller fonts.’

Releasing the posters, the partys national general secretary Ram Chandra Prasad Singh said “We want to convey the message to the voters that Nitish Kumar is a man who fulfils the promises he makes and does not lie.”

Kumar has called the shots in the party ever since it came into being a couple of decades ago but formally took over as its president only in 2016 when he relieved Sharad Yadav, now in a sulk and out of the party and struggling to find a foothold in the opposition Grand Alliance, of the post.

A year before he assumed the top post in the party, Kumar had made a record of sorts by romping home as chief minister for the third consecutive term.

He had fought the elections in alliance with Lalu Prasad’s RJD and the Congress but remained in the centre stage as the 2015 slogan ‘Bihar mein bahar hai Nitish Kumar hai’ (Bihar blossoms under the leadership of Nitish Kumar) reverberated through the landscape.

The shift of focus from the celebration of the states economic turnaround to the chief ministers “honesty” comes at a time when Kumar faces a trust deficit in the wake of his volte-face of 2017 when he resigned guided by his “inner voice” but formed a new government less than 24 hours later, dumping his pre-poll allies and joining hands with the BJP, which he had bitterly fought.

The dramatic turnaround has earned him the unsavoury epithet “Palturam” though Kumar has been at pains to explain that he took the drastic step keeping the best interests of Bihar in mind given that the BJP was also in power at the Centre and in keeping with his “zero tolerance of corruption”.

However, it seemed to be an insufficient explanation to critics and surprisingly to his confidant Prashant Kishor, who occupies the post of national vice-president in the JD(U).

Kishor ruffled many feathers in the party when in a recent interview to a news portal he said he “disagreed” with the method adopted by Kumar for realigning with the BJP and that ideally, the chief minister “should have sought a fresh mandate”.

Although the BJP is expected to highlight issues such as national security and the need for a strong government at the Centre, the alliance as a whole – is likely to go with the JD(U) line by focusing on the performance of its government in Bihar and clean image of Kumar.

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