Off the Record: Where Politics and Economics Meet
How Ram Nath Kovind as India's next President will help Amit Shah win Bihar
Relations between BJP and JD (U) have been on a sticky wicket since Nitish Kumar broke off with the saffron party.
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Almost everyone who has worked with the BJP chief Amit Shah will tell you about his love for numbers and his knack of approaching every political issue with businesslike shrewdness. What does that mean?
A former stock broker, Shah is less likely to be driven by sentiment and a lot more with number crunching. And when you look at the decision to nominate Ram Nath Kovind as NDA’s presidential candidate from that perspective, it would make a lot more sense. Besides being a Dalit and a his connect with the hindi heartland, he could also be the key for an alliance with Nitish Kumar’s JD(U), when Bihar goes to polls next in 2020.
The two – Kumar and Kovind - have shared a special, non-confrontational relationship - a big departure from the previous governor of Bihar, Devanand Konwar, who was in office from June 2009 to March 2013 and bickered incessantly with the chief minister over appointment of vice-chancellors.
Kumar and Kovind have shared a special, non-confrontational relationship.
Nitish Kumar, who had criticised the prime minister during the appointment of Kovind as governor for playing the "Dalit card" has not hit out at Kovind after he came to power. In fact, it has been a well-oiled working and amiable relationship.
Most importantly, Kovind supported Nitish in passing the Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act, 2016. The state had brought in a new alcohol prohibition law after the Patna High Court quashed down the prohibition law, calling it illegal. Kovind, a lawyer, gave his assent to the new law.
Relations between the BJP and JD (U), an important alliance partner for the BJP, have been on a sticky wicket since Kumar broke off with the BJP for the first time in 2013 after 17 years. But since then, Nitish has softened his stance towards Modi and famously missed the luncheon meet organised by Congress president Sonia Gandhi in May this year, and instead, attended the lunch hosted by Narendra Modi in honour of the Mauritius prime minister.
Murmurs of reviving the alliance between the BJP and JD (U) have been doing the rounds and Kovind’s nomination could just be the clincher. Getting together with JD (U) will further consolidate BJP’s position in the Hindi heartland. It would also remove the "Brahmin-baniya" tag from the BJP.
It also asserts the President’s office as a political centre, much like what the UPA had done – it’s evident that currently the President’s office is miles away from the legacy of innovation and imagination of APJ Abdul Kalam and Dr Rajendra Prasad. Because, at the end of the day, it is all about winning elections.