01 May 2017 | Last updated 12:19 AM

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SP-Congress loss in Uttar Pradesh is Nitish Kumar’s gain
Dheeraj Kumar | Thursday, 16 March 2017 AT 09:57 PM IST
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The humiliating defeat of Samajwadi Party-Congress combine in Uttar Pradesh election has proved to be a blessing in disguise for beleaguered Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar facing consistent attack from leaders of its assertive partner, RJD.

The situation had come to such a passe that demands for elevating Deputy Chief Minister Tejaswi Yadav, son of RJD supremo Lalu Prasad to the post of CM, had started gaining ground and even his mother and former Chief Minister Rabri had thrown her weight behind him.

Now that Mulayam Singh Yadav-led SP has been defeated badly in UP, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar could take a breather as Lalu Prasad who had thrown his weight behind Samajwadi Party would definitely prove to bea ‘mellowed’ coalition partner after SP’s drubbing.

RJD chief had extensively campaigned for the SP candidates including his son-in-law Rahul Yadav who was also vanquished in the Modi wave.

Lalu Prasad`s interference in the functioning of the government was an open secret, much to the discomfiture of the Chief Minister, but now it could be a thing of the past in view of the fact that Nitish Kumar’s bargaining power had increased considerably after the electoral reverses the SP-Congress combine faced in the UP election.

With an impressive victory of BJP in Uttar Pradesh and decimation of SP-Congress in UP assembly election, Nitish Kumar could also well keep an assertive RJD in check as he has the option of returning to the NDA if he finds his party JD(U)’s relationship with RJD turning from bad to worse. Nitish Kumar, who had overwhelmingly supported the Narendra Modi government’s demonetisation move in his reaction to Assembly election results had pointed out how stiff opposition to scraping of high value
currency notes by the opposition parties went against  them as the poor people considered demonetisation as a blow to the rich.

Any such situation would be least desired by RJD Chief Prasad who wants to see grooming of his two sons Deputy Chief Minister Tejaswi Yadav and Health Minister  Tej Pratap Yadav in the grand alliance government.

Nitish Kumar had weathered several acerbic statements made against him by senior RJD leaders including the party Vice President and former union minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh since he returned to the power by stitching an alliance with his bête noire Lalu Prasad and Congress in 2015. Now, the CM could at least take solace from the fact that RJD leaders would think twice before raking up the issue of elevation of Tejaswi Yadav to the post of CM in the aftermath of UP election result.

Another silver lining for Nitish Kumar is his emergence as a formidable challenger to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2019 Lok Sabha election as other regional satraps from Hindi heartland like Akhilesh Yadav, Mayawati and Arvind Kejriwal could not shine in the just concluded assembly elections.

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