Nitish Kumar’s Exit: Impact on Opposition’s 2024 Strategy

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January 29, 2024

Nitish Kumar’s Exit: Impact on Opposition’s 2024 Strategy

• Nitish Kumar’s recent move to rejoin the NDA has significant implications for the Opposition’s strategy in the upcoming 2024 Lok Sabha elections. As the architect of Bihar’s caste survey and a key figure in the Opposition’s social justice pitch, his departure raises questions about the efficacy of countering Hindutva with this strategy. This shift also challenges the traditional “secular-communal” dichotomy in Indian politics.
Undermining Opposition’s Caste Pitch
• Nitish Kumar’s departure from the Opposition has undermined its 2024 caste pitch. The BJP’s success in Bihar in 2019, winning all 17 contested seats, suggests that Nitish’s influence could have further bolstered the NDA’s performance if he had contested more seats.
Reinforcing BJP’s Strategy
• His move back to the NDA reinforces the BJP’s narrative of “Hindutva plus social justice” as the foundation of its electoral appeal. This strategic alignment adds symbolic weight to the BJP’s stance and challenges the opposition’s narrative.
Weakening Opposition Unity
• Nitish’s departure has led to a fragmentation of Opposition unity, as evident from Mamata Banerjee’s assertion that the TMC will contest all seats in West Bengal, AAP’s decision to go solo in Punjab, and Akhilesh Yadav’s surprise announcement of just 11 seats for Congress in Uttar Pradesh. The crumbling unity in Bihar and the anti-Congress sentiment expressed by JD(U) leader KC Tyagi further weakens the opposition’s stance.
Anti-Congress Plank
• The renewed pitch of anti-Congressism, reminiscent of historical alliances against the Congress in the 1960s and ’70s, adds pressure on the Congress in its negotiations with remaining allies like Akhilesh Yadav. KC Tyagi’s criticism of the Congress’s arrogance and attempt to pressure regional parties signifies a shift in dynamics.
Symbolic Heft for NDA
• Beyond the potential seats JD(U) may bring in 2024, Nitish Kumar’s symbolic heft is crucial for the NDA. His association provides symbolic strength at a time when the opposition aimed to corner the BJP on social justice and its winner-takes-all approach.
• Nitish Kumar’s return to the NDA significantly impacts the political landscape, raising questions about the opposition’s strategy and challenging established political narratives. The anti-Congress sentiment and the weakening of opposition unity emphasize the evolving dynamics as the country heads towards the 2024 elections.

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Nitish Kumar’s Exit: Impact on Opposition’s 2024 Strategy | Vaid ICS Institute