The Bihar Post

#CurrencyBan: Why Nitish Kumar goes out of way to back PM Modi while his partners fret

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By Manoj Chaurasia

PATNA: A sudden move by Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar to support the currency ban imposed by the Narendra Modi government has simply astounded everyone. While his partners in power, such as the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) of Lalu Prasad and the Congress have opposed the demonetisation drive tooth and nail, the JD-U led by Mr Kumar not only came out in strong support of the Prime Minister but has also announced to stay away from ‘Bharat bandh” over the issue.

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Going a step further, the chief minister also intimated both his alliance partners of his party decision by making formal phone calls while at the same time suggesting the Modi government to crack down on ‘benami properties’. The question being hotly debates in the political circles is that what prompted the chief minister to take this stand? Observers cite three reasons behind Mr Kumar’s move.

The first and foremost reason being cited by them is that the chief minister may have taken the decision gauging the mood of the general masses and studying the situation on the ground. In fact, the decision to scrap the high value currency notes was announced at a time while the chief minister was on the extensive tour of the countryside as part of his state-wide “Nischay yatra”.

While the Centre launched the demonetization drive on 8 November, the chief minister proceeded on his yatra from the very next day, ie from 9 November. Reports said although the demonetization caused temporary hardships to the people yet the majority supported the government drive, describing it in the interests of the nation. Apparently, this forced the chief minister to come out in open support of the currency ban in a bid to get their support, say the experts.

Secondly, this is being said to be a part of JD-U’s strategy to keep both its alliance partners under constant pressures. While the RJD has already been critical of the JD-U and the chief minister over certain issues, the Congress too is not looking pleased with the chief minister and has been expressing its annoyance in public.

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Especially, the JD-U is said to be piqued over the increasing interferences by the RJD which has already seen quite any its leaders sent to jail for their criminal acts. Further, the RJD is also said to be seeking major share in the appointments of boards and commissions. According to experts, such pressure politics could be part of Mr Kumar’s game-plan to keep its partners under control.

Lastly, the move brings to the fore the growing “proximity” between the JD-U and the BJP although Mr Kumar stoutly denies. It’s worth mentioning here that the JD-U had been the alliance partner of the BJP for 17 years before it broke its alliance in June 2013.

Though, Mr Kumar was able to form government with the support of the RJD and the Congress, he is said to be facing problems on day-to-day basis to run the government. What hurts him the most is the fact that he routinely has to pay visits to the RJD president or call him to convey his government’s plans to keep him in good humour with the RJD being the bigger alliance partner in the government, as per the report.

It is stated that Mr Kumar enjoyed unbridled power while he headed the NDA government as the BJP just never complained about his any decisions. Mr Kumar had only that expected from his current partners.

Courtesy: The Statesman, India

Story link: http://epaper.thestatesman.com/1017191/The-Statesman-Kolkata/28TH-NOVEMBER-2016#page/2/2

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