31 July, 2021

Second Is First Fiddle

The long Nitish-BJP relation has had its ups and downs, especially vis-à-vis Modi, but this may turn out to be the trickiest phase ever. A pyrrhic victory for the seven-time CM.

Illustration by saahil
Second Is First Fiddle

Champagne should ideally have flowed freely in the ruling camp—but of course, there’s prohibition in Bihar. Champagne, you could say, is an impossibly elitist metaphor to deploy in one of India’s poorest states, but seemingly impossible things have been happening here. At the end of waves of rapture going in the opposite direction during the campaign, Janata Dal (United) stalwart Nitish Kumar has returned to power yet again, leading his alliance to a fourth consecutive victory in the state assembly elections. In the next few days, he will be sworn in as chief minister for the seventh time—a feat none of his predecessors could ever boast of. One of the canniest politicians of contemporary India, Nitish may have been arguably too canny in writing himself off from a larger national role that may have been his for the taking—even if this election brings fresh proof of his grandmastery on the complex chessboard of Bihar. And yet, there’s a double-edged nature to this mandate and this may turn out to be an eventful—and internally...

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