Sunday, June 22, 2014

Nitish Kumar: Opposition Leader

हिन्दी: देश के उप राष्ट्रपति मोहम्मद हामिद अंस...
हिन्दी: देश के उप राष्ट्रपति मोहम्मद हामिद अंसारी पटना में पूर्व मुख्यमंत्री सत्येन्द्र नारायण सिन्हा(छोटे साहब) की 94वीं जयंती पर आयोजित व्याख्यानमाला श्रंखला पर पूर्व सांसद किशोरी सिन्हा और मुख्यमंत्री नीतीश कुमार के साथ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Of all politicians in India, Nitish Kumar is best suited for the role of Opposition Leader. That does not mean he has to be in Delhi. A vibrant democracy necessarily requires an Opposition Leader. That space currently seems to be vacant. What would it take?

A Clear Victory In Bihar In 2015

Without a victory, Nitish is finished. But that requires forging a strong JD(U), RJD, Congress, CPI alliance. If the four parties can come together, they will sweep Bihar. Sushil Modi is no match to Nitish. But if JD(U) fights solo, you will likely see a BJP government in Bihar. Should that happen Nitish might as well go into retirement.

The four party alliance will give him a 2010-like mandate. It is because his track record is supreme. Laloo is not so bad. He was as excellent as Railways Minister as Nitish as Chief Minister.

Codifying Nitishism And Exporting It To Uttar Pradesh

Right now the BJP is on its way to grabbing power in the all important state of Uttar Pradesh, which needs to be bifurcated by the way. Mayawati and Mulayam are nowhere close to coming together, which is their only shot at keeping the BJP away. They might first choose to face total defeat before they see the light. Currently the BSP, SP and the Congress in Uttar Pradesh are like three horses that are headed in three different directions. Bringing the three together is a tall task, and noone is even trying. But just the three of them coming together is not enough. Unlike Nitish, Akhilesh does not have a great development track record. That is where Nitish comes into the picture. He needs to codify Nitishism that has worked so well in Bihar, and he needs to export that to Uttar Pradesh. Nitish should play a role in Uttar Pradesh to that effect.

The Left And Mamata In West Bengal

They are already warming up to each other. That is because the Left is no longer the number two party in the state. That now would be the BJP. And just like in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, the Congress gets to play the junior partner.

Sweeping Bihar

Nitish has to sweep Bihar in 2015 like he swept in 2010. And then he has to win 35 plus of the 40 seats in 2019. Unless these two things happen, there is no scope for him at the national level. But a 35 plus strength in 2019 allows him to reach out to people like Mamata, Patnaik and Jayalalita.

The Congress Stays Below 50

I don't see how the Congress will go past 50 seats even in 2019. I expect Modi to perform well and further eat into Congress votes.


Even in 2014, it is not the BJP that is the clear winner. The non-Congress, non-BJP parties together earned about 50 per cent of the votes. If the BJP grew, it grew at the expense of the Congress in terms of vote share. The vote share of the non-Congress, non-BJP parties is largely intact.

So for someone like Nitish it is not about let's try and earn more votes than the BJP. It is more about how you bring these parties together. Mamata's coinage Federal Front is a good name and a good idea. Only it needs a formal structure. It needs a formal Central Coordination Committee. There Nitish can play a role, but only if he sweeps Bihar next year. Right now he is a fisherman without a boat.

Codifying Nitishism

Nitish performed better as Chief Minister than did Modi. The development drama in Bihar was more impressive than the one in Gujrat, although Gujrat was impressive enough. Jitan Ram Majhi being Chief Minister for one year is a great idea, in that the people of Bihar can feel development work will not evaporate should Nitish move to Delhi.

Social Media

Nitish updates his Facebook page regularly, and that is impressive. His Facebook updates are more impressive than that of Modi. But he is absent on Twitter. That is a huge disadvantage. And he will have to go hi-tech like Modi if he wishes to go national. A national leader needs to work towards a national appeal.


I expect Modi to perform well. And if it is the Congress that is the party waiting to take it all back, then Modi could stay put for 15 years. But if Nitish Kumar goes for it, it might be possible to dislodge Modi in 2019, most definitely in 2024. Nitish could be Prime Minister. He started opposing Laloo when Laloo was at his peak in Bihar. When he finally did replace Laloo, he outperformed him as Chief Minister. I think he might prove a better Prime Minister than Modi even. But a lot of chips have to fall in place for that to happen.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Bihar, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh

Uttar Pradesh small
Uttar Pradesh small (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The BJP's spectacular victory in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, and its dramatic rise in West Bengal to become the second largest party also makes room for anti-BJP alliances among former arc rivals. For example, Laoo and Nitish in Bihar. Mayawati and Mulayam in Uttar Pradesh. Mamata and the Left in West Bengal.

A Nitish-Laloo-Congress alliance in Bihar would rout the BJP in Bihar in the 2015 elections.

Nitish Kumar, Lalu Prasad Yadav to extend Rajya Sabha friendship to state polls
Believe it or not! BJP turns unifier for Mamata Banerjee and Left too

Sunday, June 15, 2014

A One State Solution

English: Palestinian territories (West Bank an...
English: Palestinian territories (West Bank and Gaza Strip) showing Israel's 1948 and 1967 borders (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
At best it looks like soft apartheid.
Israel Elects a One-State President
Over time, a series of other Likud politicians have faced the contradiction between democracy and ruling over the Palestinians of the occupied territories, and have concluded that Israel must seek a two-state solution. Rivlin once described this as the equivalent of an ultra-Orthodox Jew turning his back on religion. To avoid this heresy, Rivlin has declared that Israel should annex the West Bank and give the Palestinians citizenship. He has become a one-stater..... the only possible democratic outcome for Israelis and Palestinians is a binational state ..... the one-staters of the right aren't at all interested in binationalism. And at closer examination, they aren't proposing a true shared democracy ..... a folksy, friendly president who "would prefer for the Palestinians to be citizens of this country rather than divide the land ..... "in the Land of Israel, whether we like it or not, both Jews and Arabs live. Thus any diplomatic solution based on separation is not feasible." You can't fault him for lack of chutzpah; he gave this speech at memorial ceremony for assassinated prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was killed for his commitment to the opposite view. .... The Jews would vote for a Jewish parliament and the Palestinians for an Arab parliament ..... Rivlin is committed to the three principles of the Whole Land, democracy, and a Jewish nation-state. He doesn't know how to fit them together ..... The single state would change its electoral system, designing voting districts to reduce Palestinian political power ..... She, like the others, leaves Gaza out of the picture, as if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can end with no change in the besieged coastal enclave. .... What Rivlin and the rest share is professed confidence that a single state from river to sea can be both democratic and Jewish, with a large Palestinian population that is denied national rights. ...... They do share a certain brazenness with those Palestinian one-staters who hope that with a narrow Palestinian majority, they can have a Palestinian state. .... neither group is giving up its national aspirations, and creating a single state would mean continuing the conflict under new conditions. To the extent that President Rivlin becomes a symbol of the potential for a one-state solution, he will be the friendly, good-humored symbol of a dangerous illusion

Iraq Could Cost Hillary 2016

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton intr...
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton introduces President Barack Obama before he delivered a policy address on events in the Middle East. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It is possible this is a false alarm. This is not the beginning of a new, protracted war. The US sure is not going back. But if the government in Baghdad does not fall, it should not be that bad politically for Hillary. But a bad scenario makes Iraq look bad for Hillary, strictly politically speaking.

But then all of the Middle East is unfinished business. This is like the Cold War in 1977 or 1972. The end is not yet in sight.

There are at least five different scenarios that could unfold, only one of which could cost Hillary 2016. But even the other four make it hard. But then 2016 was always going to be a regular presidential election. It is going to be a very real, contested election should Hillary run, and I never doubted she is going to.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Interlinking Rivers In India

I don't know a whole lot about this interlinking business, and this is the first time I have taken a look at this map, but I believe making available year round irrigation will have to be the bedrock for agricultural progress in India. I know Modi is keen. Water, roads, electricity, broadband, small, efficient government.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Connecting China And India By Train

China’s expanding rail network in Tibet nears Sikkim
Qinghai–Tibet Railway
Extension to bring Tibet railway line closer to India
Tibet Train Map
China plans taking Tibet rail network near Sikkim
Extend Tibet railway line to Kathmandu, Nepal tells China
India could take out Qinghai-Tibet Railway to cripple PLA

This is the Asian Century and China is taking the lead. Between them China and India are looking good. And the number one fallout of this new development has to be that hundreds of millions of new people get to get out of poverty. To that end railways connections between the two countries would go a long way. One would go through Sikkim, another would go through Nepal, through Kathmandu, the capital city, and on south to India.

Beijing has plans to become the capital city of the world by forging railway connections to all continents except Antarctica. There is talk of a train route to the continental US through Alaska. Another route to Africa. There is already one to Germany.

You can't go to America, and Africa and ignore India.

There is a huge peace dividend to such railway extensions. Every billion you spend on such railways is a billion you do not have to spend on defense, something like that. Defense expenditures are a one way street, whereas trains make you money.
Enhanced by Zemanta