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Nitish Kumar: Bihar’s ‘Mr Clean’ who humbled Narendra Modi

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Patna: He studied to be an engineer but ended up embracing politics. And in a state where many politicians are detested, Nitish Kumar – who took oath on Friday as Bihar’s chief minister – is widely recognized as a rare icon of simplicity and honesty.

Even critics of Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal-United (JD-U) grudgingly admire his many traits that enabled him to make up with his friend-turned-foe-turned-ally Lalu Prasad and deliver a huge blow to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his BJP in one of the most bitterly fought assembly elections.

Born in 1951 at Bakhtiyarpur in Patna district to an Ayurvedic physician and Congress leader, Nitish Kumar plunged into politics in the early 1970s at a time when Bihar was in ferment.

The numerous street protests in which he took part slowly turned the ‘Munna’ (child) — as he was known in the family — to a leader, getting elected to the Bihar assembly for the first time in 1985.

He became president of the Yuva Lok Dal in 1987 and secretary general of the then undivided Janata Dal two years later.

He entered the Lok Sabha in 1989 and went on to win five parliamentary elections from Bihar as his popularity soared. But as he grew and grew in stature, he kept his family away from politics.

A minister of state in the V.P. Singh government, he became railway minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government but resigned when a train disaster claimed the lives of about 250 commuters.

He returned to the cabinet as the minister for surface transport and agriculture.

Even as his former friend Lalu Prasad – a successful politician in his own right – earned notoriety for his brash conduct and corruption, Nitish Kumar came to be recognized for his moderate approach to everything.

He is a teetotaller who detests tobacco. Over time, he became an advocate of equitable development and good governance, which Bihar seemed to lack.

Nitish Kumar became the chief minister of Bihar for the first time in 2000, but his government was short lived. He had to resign within a week as he failed to prove his majority in the assembly.

By then, Nitish Kumar had come out of Lalu Prasad’s shadow and charted his own course.

In 2005, he teamed up with the BJP — a party he had opposed for years — to take power in the state again and end the 15 long years of reign by Lalu Prasad. He led the coalition to victory again in 2010.

The rise of Narendra Modi in the BJP, however, upset Nitish Kumar, who walked out of the 17-year-long alliance.

After the BJP led by an aggressive Modi swept the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Nitish Kumar made way for colleague Jitan Ram Manjhi, only to reclaim the post.

The JD-U stalwart is credited with re-laying roads that had virtually ceased to exist, building over 12,000 bridges and 66,000 roads, completing long-delayed infrastructure projects, appointing more than three lakh school teachers and ensuring that doctors attended health centres.

He also cracked down on criminals with strong links to politics. Speedy trials were ordered against 85,000 criminals, many of them politicians. All this was a veritable revolution in Bihar.

When the assembly elections were called this year, it became another prestige battle between Modi and Nitish Kumar. This time, having made up with Lalu Prasad, he humbled the prime minister in an election result which most pundits said would have national repercussions.

That much was evident when top leaders of non-BJP parties made it a point to attend his swearing-in on Tuesday.

His aides say Nitish Kumar is a firm believer in hard work and has a vision. In the decade he governed Bihar, the state made news for economic development. The law and order situation pointedly improved.

“It was the technocrat in him that reflected in his bid to develop Bihar. Nitish Kumar became a ‘vikas purush (man of development). Even his critics agree,” JD-U state president Vashisht Narain Singh, who has known Nitish Kumar since the 1990s, told IANS.

(Imran Khan, IANS)

 

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Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Now Keen to Develop Young Leaders

The first camp in this regard will be held in Jhansi

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RSS, Leaders, BJP
The RSS will be holding camps in Uttar Pradesh to discuss ways to identify and groom young leaders. Pixabay

With most senior leaders in the BJP having retired from active politics, the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) is now looking towards building a new leadership. Later this month, the RSS will be holding camps in Uttar Pradesh to discuss ways to identify and groom young leaders.

According to a senior RSS functionary in Lucknow, the first camp in this regard will be held in Jhansi, possibly on June 29 and RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat will be attending it. Another camp is scheduled to be held in Lucknow.

“After Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, there seems to be a dearth of second rung leadership in the bhBJP. There is a need to develop leadership that will carry forward the work initiated by these two leaders.

“Rajnath Singh is a senior leader, but his age is 67. He would have crossed 70 by the time the next general elections are held in 2024. We have to identify and inculcate leadership qualities in the younger lot,” the functionary said.

RSS, Leaders, BJP
The Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) is now looking towards building a new leadership. Pixabay

He further said that identifying young talent that could be groomed for greater responsibilities was a continuous process in the organisation and it never stopped.

“It is not a sudden decision but the RSS leadership always has a vision for the future and thinks ahead. We keep finding young people with leadership skills,” the functionary added.

Earlier this month, the RSS chief had underlined the need for checking misuse of power at a four-day camp that he addressed in Kanpur.

“Those getting elected in a democratic set-up have immense power, but this does not mean that it should be misused. If the government falters at any point of time, the Sangh will give it advice and suggestions with a positive point of view,” he had said.

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The RSS chief had also discussed the topics of nationalism, social equality and service in his interaction with over 600 volunteers. He also focused on qualitative development of the Sangh volunteers and apprised them of his views on dedication towards society.

The RSS leadership is also expected to come to Lucknow for a separate camp at the end of this month. In Lucknow, the RSS leaders will pay homage to senior journalist Rajnath Singh Surya, who passed away earlier this month. Surya was also a senior RSS functionary.

Officially, however, the RSS office bearers said that they had yet to receive any programme of Bhagwat and said that such camps were a ‘routine affair’. (IANS)