Nitish Kumar has many aces
News analysis

Nitish Kumar has many aces

The beleaguered Bihar Chief Minister, Mr. Nitish Kumar, who had suddenly landed in a controversy over the unsavoury happenings in a shelter home for girls and women in Hazaribagh, has announced that these homes run by NGOs in his state would be taken over by the government to prevent such crimes.

While he has been ambivalent over the action to be taken against the culprit in the Hazaribagh case, Mr. Nitish Kumar said that the law would take its own course and the process has already been set in. The Chief Minister said that ‘we are seriously concerned over the incident.’ He said he had suggested to the officials that NGOs running such homes was just not right. He has suggested that these should be run by the government and this would be implemented in a phased manner.

He also said that his government would construct shelter homes and employ their own staff to run these. As such the system that is being practised all over the country for shelter facilities was flawed and subject to misuse by unscrupulous elements. There have been several flaws in the system and these needs to be rectified.

He said that NGOs would be asked to run their own shelter homes and from their own buildings. ‘I have asked the Chief Secretary to do a full review and the government has accepted that it will run the system of shelter homes and will be fully responsible for them. They can be fully monitored under the government.’

Mr. Nitish Kumar also hit out at the Hazaribagh home proprietor, Brajesh Thakur, whom most of the rape victims had named as he chief perpetrator. ‘He was of a pervert mentality. His NGO took over the shelter homes but indulged in such things.’

Having not been quite successful enforcing prohibition in the state some time earlier, Mr. Kumar has been exploring for ways to win over the people and adopting welfare measures that would gain him the mass support.

This is an experiment that Mr Chandrababu Naidu had tried out in Andhra Pradesh and it worked for some time and won over the support of the women but the liquor lobby and the ingrained habits of the people made it an unviable proposition. The same thing seems to have to happened to Bihar as well because the liquor lobby shifted operations to neighbouring states like Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal and the clients also made forays there. This has also resulted in the increase in crimes. But overall Mr. Nitish Kumar had been able to bring about a semblance of law and order in Bihar which had been slipping out of control.

Having to grapple with wily opponents like the formidable Mr Lalu Prasad Yadav and facing the BJP’s foray into the state Mr. Nitish Kumar has been trying to forge some variant of the Mahagadbandhan (grand alliance) that had halted the surge of the saffron wave in the North in the state elections.

Mr. Kumar’s latest attempt has been to find a common candidate for the Rajya Sabha Vice-Chairmanship. He has been sounding West Bengal’s Ms. Mamata Banerjee in this respect. He is also trying to build bridges with the Congress which, though only a small player in his state, can tilt the scales when it comes to the crunch.

Mr. Nitish Kumar, a consummate politician, has been trying to reach out to the Telengana Chief Minister also about the Rajya Sabha post. All these leaders have their special grouses against the NDA government in their own ways, but to find a common plank has proved tricky. It is here that Mr. Kumar’s skills would come into play.

But he has also probably not reckoned with another unknown player and not gauged the negotiating skills of that player. The BJP’s president, Mr. Amit Shah, who has so far been an unknown factor in the national politics, has been systematically touring the states and studying the situations prevailing there and factors that could be used to their advantage.

It was during such probing and testing of the waters for the coming Lok Sabha elections next year that the Hazaribagh news broke out. It goes to Mr. Nitish Kumar’s credit that he had come out of it unscathed.