Nitish Kumar is one of the most enduring and successful political figures in Indian politics, especially in the 20th century. There has never been any politician who has shown no regards for anything as long as he could keep his Chief Minister’s chair. He has broken old alliances, joined forces with parties he fought against, changed his stance multiple times and has stopped at nothing to continue being the Chief Minister of Bihar. He has been sworn in as the state’s Chief Minister on eight separate occasions (he probably remembers the oath by heart now). Let’s find out more about the world’s biggest chair enthusiast.
Nitish Kumar: Chief Minister Forever
Who is Nitish Kumar?
Nitish Kumar is an Indian politician and the current Chief Minister of Bihar. Earlier he served as the Chief Minister of Bihar from 2005 to 2014 and after a brief stint as CM in 2015 to 2017, he resigned from his post and once again joined hands with the NDA. Nitish took oath as the Chief Minister of Bihar for the eighth time in 2022. He is the longest serving Chief Minister of Bihar. He is one of the prominent leaders of the Janata Dal United political party.
How was Nitish Kumar’s life before politics?
Nitish Kumar was born in Harnaut (Kalyan Bigha) Nalanda, in a Kurmi (Abhadiya) family. Nitish Kumar’s father Kaviraj Ram Lakhan participated in the Indian freedom struggle alongside Anugrah Narayan Sinha, a key figurehead in the foundation of the state of Bihar. Ram Lakhan was a professional Ayurvedic physician.
Nitish Kumar studied Electrical Engineering at the Bihar College of Engineering. The college has now been renamed as National Institute of Technology (NIT), Patna. Upon graduating, Nitish Kumar joined the Bihar State Electricity Board (BSEB), before quitting the job and entering politics full time.
Who is Nitish Kumar married to?
Nitish Kumar got married to Manju Kumari Sinha in 1973. At the time of the wedding, she worked as a teacher in a Patna school. The couple had a son two years after their marriage. Their son, Nishant Kumar also went on to study engineering at Birla Institute of Technology – Mesra in Ranchi. Unfortunately, Nitish Kumar’s wife Manju Sinha passed away in 2007.
Did Nitish Kumar help develop Bihar?
While his work is nothing compared to what Chief Ministers like Narendra Modi and Yogi Adityanath did for their states, there is still some good that Nitish Kumar has done for Bihar:
- The poverty rate in Bihar has also decreased continuously. Where it was 54.4 in 2004-05, it has come down to 33.74% at present. In this way, a decline of 20.6% has been registered.
- The monthly spending ability of the rural people of Bihar was Rupees 417 only in 2005, whereas at present it has increased to Rupees 1127. Thus the monthly expenditure has increased by Rupees 710.
- The monthly spending ability of the urban people of Bihar was Rupees 696 in 2005, which has increased to Rupees 1507 at present.
- Bihar has also continuously improved in Ease of Doing Business. Bihar’s score was 16.4 in 2015, whereas at present it has increased to 81.91. Thus there is an increase of 65.5.
- Where the per capita income (GSDP) was Rupees 8773 in 2005, it increased to Rupees 47541 in 2019, in this way the per capita income of the people of Bihar increased by Rupees 38768.
- According to NSDP, the per capita income has increased from Rupees 7,914 in 2005 to Rupees 25,950 in 2016-17. Thus there was an increase of Rupees 18,036.
Nitish Kumar: Political Career
Nitish Kumar was involved in Jaiprakash Babu’s Sampoorna Kranti movement in 1974 and 1977 and was very close to Satyendra Narayan Sinha, the great social worker and politician of that time.
Nitish Kumar became a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) for the first time in 1985. Two years later, he was elected as the President of the Yuva Lok Dal. In 1989, he was elected the secretary of the Janata Dal in Bihar and in the same year, he was also elected a member of the 9th Lok Sabha.
1990 saw his first foray into national politics as a Minister of State for Agriculture in the Union Cabinet of the Janata Dal government. In 1991, he was once again elected to the Lok Sabha, and this time he was elected the National Secretary of the Janata Dal and also became the Deputy Leader of the Janata Dal in the Parliament. In 1989 and 2000, he represented the Barh Lok Sabha constituency. He was also the Union Minister of Railways and Surface Transport for some time in 1998-1999 and resigned from the post in August 1999 after the train accident in Gasal.
How was Nitish Kumar able to unseat Lalu Yadav?
In the 1999 Lok Sabha elections, the Rashtriya Janata Dal suffered a setback at the hands of the BJP + JD(U) alliance. The new alliance emerged ahead in 199 out of 324 assembly constituencies and it was widely believed that the upcoming election to the Bihar state assembly would bring an end to the Lalu-Rabri regime. The RJD had fought the election in alliance with Congress. However, because of Lalu Yadav’s conviction in the fodder scam, Congress decided to contest the elections alone.
The RJD had to be content with Communist parties as coalition partners, but the seat-sharing puzzle in the National Democratic Alliance camp saw Kumar oust his Samta Party from Sharad Yadav and Janata Dal’s Ram Vilas Paswan faction. Differences also arose between the BJP and Kumar as the latter was to be projected as the Chief Minister of Bihar, but Kumar was not in favor of it. Paswan also wanted to become the CM face. Muslims and OBCs were also divided in their opinion. A section of Muslims, which included poorer communities such as Pasmanda, believed that Lalu only strengthened upper-caste Muslims such as Sheikhs, Sayyids and Pathans, and was looking for new alternatives.
Lalu Yadav also ended up alienating backward castes like Kurmis and Koeris because of his extreme Muslim appeasement. It is argued by Sanjay Kumar that the belief is that, “dominant OBCs like the twin caste of Koiri-Kurmi will seek a share in power if he (Yadav) seeks their support, while Muslims will be satisfied with security only during communal riots. Yadav ignored him.
Moreover, the split in the two camps made the political atmosphere in the state a charged one, with several parties fighting against each other without any boundaries. The JD(U) and the BJP shared a few seats. Fighting against the other was the Samata Party. The result was a blow to the BJP, which was emerging with a landslide victory in media campaigns. The RJD emerged as the single largest party. Nitish Kumar became the Chief Minister but he had to resign in just seven days. In the 324-member House, the NDA and its allies had 151 MLAs, while Lalu Prasad Yadav had 159 MLAs. Both alliances fell short of the majority mark of 163. Nitish resigned even before he could prove his numbers in the House. Rabri Devi was again sworn in as the Chief Minister due to the political maneuvering of Lalu Yadav
In the year 2000, he again became the Agriculture Minister in the Union Cabinet. From May 2001 to 2004, he was the Union Railway Minister in the Vajpayee government. In the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, he filed his papers from Barh and Nalanda but he lost the seat of Barh.
In November 2005, Nitish Kumar succeeded in overthrowing the Rashtriya Janata Dal’s fifteen-year-old rule in Bihar and was crowned as Chief Minister. In the 2010 Bihar assembly elections, on the basis of the development work done by his government, he was able to win his alliance with a huge majority and again became the Chief Minister. Because of JDU’s poor performance in the 2014 parliamentary elections, Nitish Kumar resigned from his post as Chief Minister.
Jitan Ram Manjhi took the reins for a couple of years but Nitish Kumar was soon back on top of his favourite thing in the world, the Chief Minister’s Chair.
Why did Nitish Kumar resign from his post?
On 17 May 2014, he resigned as Chief Minister taking responsibility for his party’s poor performance in the Indian general election, 2014 and thereafter 68-year-old Jitan Ram Manjhi was sworn in as the 23rd Chief Minister of Bihar. It was Nitish Kumar who had proposed the name of Jitan Ram Manjhi as the Chief Minister (perhaps to make the Dalit voters of the state happy).
How did Nitish Kumar become the Chief Minister again?
Nitish Kumar returned to office in February 2015 due to the political crisis in Bihar and won the 2015 Bihar Legislative Assembly elections in November 2015. Nitish Kumar was appointed the National President of the Janata Dal (United) on April 10th, 2016. Several politicians including Lalu Yadav, Tejashwi Yadav and others proposed him for the post of Prime Minister of India in the upcoming election of 2019, though he denied such aspirations.
Due to the naming of Tejashwi Yadav as Deputy Chief Minister, Nitish Kumar again resigned from the post of Chief Minister of Bihar due to differences between the alliance partner RJD.
Hours later, he joined the BJP led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and was sworn in again as the chief minister. After this, he contested again in 2020 as an NDA member, but again in 2022, separated from the NDA, merged his party with the RJD-Congress Grand Alliance (Mahagathbandhan) and took oath as Chief Minister again.