A Political Crisis in Bihar

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Some chief ministers are hungry for money, some for power, still some for fame, a few to punish enemies, and others for all of the above.

Here is a list of a few recent Chief Ministers who may find it difficult to prove to historians that they do not belong to any one of the above categories: Chautala, Mayawati, Jayalalitha, Karunanidhi, Madhu Koda, Lalu Prasad Yadav, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Narendra Modi, Virbhadra Singh, Yeddyuarppa.

Where would Nitish Kumar fit in the above classifications, if any? The answer depends on when historians would review his records as Chief Minister of Bihar. In addition to the records, they would have one more chapter on him to assess: Nitish Kumar’s role in the 2015 political crisis in Bihar. And here are some of things the chapter may contain.

Nitish Kumar and the Constitution of India

Since the day Janata Dal – United party dismissed J R Manjhi, the sitting Chief Minister of Bihar, from the party (Feb 9, 2015), K N Tripathi, the Governor of Bihar, has been under severe pressure to swear in Nitish Kumar as Chief Minister of Bihar. And the pressure is mostly applied by Kumar himself.

The Constitution of India under the article 174 section 2 states that:

The Governor may from time to time—
(a) Prorogue the House or either House;
(b) Dissolve the Legislative Assembly.

The option (a) means a governor may discontinue a session of a state legislative assembly for a period of time during a political crisis.

It is good for Nitish Kumar that Governor Tripathi did not select the option (b) and opted for option (a). The Governor is now rightfully giving, under option (a), CM Manjhi a reasonable amount of time to regroup and prove that a majority of the MLAs in the Bihar State Legislative Assembly support him.

However, Nitish Kumar is acting like a kid in a candy store. He wants a candy of his choice now – not one second later. And so his parents, or his siblings, must buy him a candy right now! Kumar wants to be made CM the moment he says he wants to be CM – and the Governor and the state of Bihar better be ready to satisfy his craving.

Perhaps, Nitish Kumar does not know, or does not want to abide by, the Constitution of India. He appears to act as if Bihar is his property and Manjhi and Tripathi are his employees.

Nitish Kumar and Prestige

A good leader puts the prestige of his political party first. When a wedding party with the bridegroom is at the door, for example, and if the bride’s family made a mistake or forgot something, the family would cover or correct an error immediately – without blaming, or shouting at, someone – in order to save the family’s honor.

When Nitish Kumar and his supporters learned that CM Manjhi has been making errors in running the government of Bihar, or straying from a script, they should have helped him fixed his mistakes. Instead, they fired Manjhi and his followers – just when a marriage is about to take place. A common sense dictates this: when an election is around the corner, do not fire any members and do strengthen the party and its reputation and win the election.

Nitish Kumar as New CM

Because the election in Bihar is just a few months away, a crucial question is this: What is it that Nitish Kumar is going to achieve for Bihar, extraordinary or earth shaking, by becoming a CM again for a few weeks, especially after a bruising fight with Manjhi. He has had several years in the office as CM.

Nitish Kumar and Remorse

He resigned as CM and a JD-U party leader following the party’s debacle in the May 2014 Parliamentary election. No one told him to resign, but he did so to show that he was responsible for the party’s defeat. A common sense would dictate that he ought to remain remorseful, if he is truly remorseful, until the upcoming state election is over.


In this episode, the voters of the great state of Bihar may see Nitish Kumar as the creator of this constitutional crisis, the person who has downgraded his party’s prestige, and the man who lacks unshakable beliefs. There may not be any more new chapters to write on his political life after the next election, and that would certainly curtail the work for historians.


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