Nitish Kumar, the clever Ku-Ku squished by Hindutva CAB

Nitish Kumar, Bihar Chief minister, NRC, National Register of Citizens, implementation, Bihar, Citizenship Act, protests
Nitish Kumar is the first chief minister of an NDA-ruled state to shut its doors on the citizens’ register that would be crucial to the BJP-led national coalition delivering on its promise to expel infiltrators. Photo: PTI

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar is a kurmi — a backward class that’s almost six per cent of Bihar. Though he hasn’t confessed yet, but his creed must be kursi (chair) — a faith practiced by 100 per cent politicians of India.

Every politician in India flocks to kursi. But, this Ku-Ku, as in NaMo for Kursi Kumar, is a bird of such unique feather that he flies into every nest available, morphing, like Zeus, into pigeon, kite, crow, sparrow, vulture, almost anything, at the drop of a feather. Such is his mastery of the art that, if you are willing to forgive the mixed metaphor, even chameleons would be scared of being out-chameleoned by him.

No wonder, in Bihar he is called Paltu Cha-Cha (chair uncle). Ku-Ku, as we have seen many times, is a master of musical kursis. He does an ideological Cha-Cha-Cha—probably to the beat of a famous Usha Uthup song of the same name—at the speed of a Ferrari CAB and always ends up being fastest to the chair. And he does it with so much smugness that his finesse makes even NRCissits go Ku-Ku with envy.

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When you have a bird so profligate with principles, so polygamous with politicians, he is bound to leave behind several broken hearts, trampled trusts and former partners feeling, well, like Ku-Kolds. But, that’s Mister Bovary of politics for you.

Nitish and the art of hailing CABs

Ku-Ku’s latest flip-flock on the Citizenship law isn’t surprising. After flying against the amendments to the proposed law, he suddenly decided to fly in its support in Parliament. And, then, even before the first about-turn could be completed, he flipped again midair by announcing his party will not support the National Registry of Citizens (NRC).

Much of this flip-flop was due to the anarchy within his own flock. On CAB, he faced public criticism from the two “intellectual” faces of the party—Prashant Kishore and Pawan Verma (though many argue it is all HMV). And later, the feedback from the constituents apparently convinced him that if he carries on blowing his silly CAB horn, the minorities will get off his secularism bus. So, now he is saying the JD(U) will not support the NRC.

Ku-Ku’s stand on the entire issue is bit of a joke. A few decades ago, when Bill Clinton was accused of smoking marijuana in college, he came up with a fantastic explanation: I smoked but didn’t inhale.

Later, when on trial for having an affair with a White House intern, he argued he had sexual contact with “that woman” but didn’t ejaculate (poor boy!). Ku-Ku is trying to tread a similar line by arguing that he will support the citizenship law, but not its Siamese (or rather Bangladeshi) twin NRC, knowing well that both are useless without each other. This is classical Paltu Cha-Cha. If you have followed his politics, you’d know that he plays by the Clinton rulebook. One, he always inhales one ideology and exhales another. Two, he wears his ideological trousers only to keep the ankles warm but, on getting caught, calls it just fore, er, fair play (go figure). So, by turn, he has treated Lalu Prasad Yadav, Sharad Yadav, George Fernandes, Narendra Modi, Jeetan Manjhi and the Congress as Monica Lewinskys and Paula Joneses. (Go figure again).

Another trademark Ku-Ku trait is his ability to occasionally piss in his own camp—for strategic reasons. So, he will be part of the NDA but not share stage with Modi. He will be part of the Mahagathbandhan, and UPA, but still support demonetisation. And, he will hail the CAB, but still threaten to oppose NRC. Why? Because, it helps him keep his options open, be the secular and the Hindutva-wadi at the same time.

As he once famously said, while pissing in the BJP camp, this is India, here you have to wear the topi (skull cap) as well the tilak (symbol of Hindu religiosity). Ku-Ku does a great job of replacing one with the other at the drop of the proverbial skull cap.

The perils of political polygamy

The smart part about being a cuckoo is that it is a brood parasite — it often lays its egg in some other bird’s nest and then fools them into hatching them. But, the sad part about them is that even if an eagle were to hatch these eggs, the bird would still be a cuckoo. Our political Ku-Ku suffers from the same tragedy in spite of his ability to use others for his gains — he never gets to be the king of the political firmament and always remains a brood parasite.

There was a time not so long ago when he could have been a challenger to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but, for reasons known only to him, he decided to stay in his Bihar nest, maybe in anticipation of a favourable wind. But, his about-turns on CAB somersaults and NCR flips have cut short his flight forever — it is now unlikely to land in Delhi.

Till he supported the changes in the citizenship law, the NDA in Bihar was Cow-plus-Ku-Ku (Hindutva votes plus the minorities that supported Nitish). But, by hailing the CAB, the Bihar chief minister has erased that distinction—he now represents just the cow, his own support base has flown over Ku-Ku’s nest. By supporting the CAB he has surrendered the small but decisive vote-bank that enabled him to become the chief minister by giving the final push to whoever he allied with. Without it, he will now spend the rest of his career at the BJP’s mercy.

Ku-Ku is trying to contain the damage by arguing he will oppose the NRC. But, in all likelihood, the game is over for him. He will henceforth survive as a caged bird that can be squished any time by the BJP. No Ku-Ku, after all, ever laid a golden egg even if it convinced a lot of people for a long time that it would.

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