Back in the saddle for the fourth time in the politically important state of Bihar, Nitish Kumar is known as Chanakya in state politics for his carefully crafted behind-the-scene moves and his emphasis on growth and development.
The soft-spoken senior JD(U) leader has his task cut out this time as the state is in election mode with polls just five months away.
With today’s swearing in, 63-year-old Kumar is back in the Chief Minister’s chair he had quit on May 17, 2014 over JD(U)’s debacle in the general election.
After stepping down, Kumar, despite resistance from JD(U) legislators against his resignation, had his way and handpicked Jitan Ram Manjhi to succeed him on May 20, 2014.
But, within eight months of the decision Kumar was forced to change the plot in the wake of dissent against him by Manjhi along with a section of JD(U) ministers and legislators.
BJP used the dissension to the hilt and extended support to Manjhi. But, the floor test could not be taken as Manjhi tendered his resignation ahead of the vote on Friday last.
With the swearing in, a major crisis for Kumar has ended but some big challenges lie ahead for the socialist leader.
Besides, repairing the “damage” done by Manjhi to “sushasan” (good governance) as Kumar said on Friday, the wily politician has to allay the fears of people that company of RJD leader Lalu Prasad, who has been convicted in a fodder scam case, does not mean return of “jungle raj” as alleged by rival BJP.
This would have serious repercussion for Kumar, as he has to lead his party JD(U) and allies RJD, Congress and CPI to Assembly election in the state before November 25 this year.
During his earlier stint as chief minister, Kumar had initiated a series of reforms and stressed on increasing enrolment of students, building roads and bridges and improving healthcare facilities.
BJP, whose relations with Kumar turned bitter after he led his party to severe ties with it on June 16, 2013 following elevation of Narendra Modi, has already coined a slogan “jungle raj II” , warning people of “looming danger of Kumar joining hands with Lalu”.