Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is an ace political player. Hence, the laxity of his administration in not being able to begin the trial of the Rajiv Roshan case, a strong reason for political criminal, gangster, and murderer Mohammad Shahabuddin getting bail from the Patna High Court last week, is being evaluated from different political angles.
Some believe that Nitish wanted him out to deliver a blow to the image-building exercise of RJD supremo Lalu Prasad. In 2005 or around that time, the Nitish administration of Bihar has thrown the gangster behind the bar to weaken the hands of Lalu Prasad. Is the same consideration, in a different mode, though, working on Nitish this time again in facilitating the release of Mohammad Shahabuddin?
Without a pause or a thought, as soon as Mohammad Shahabuddin walked out of the jail two days ago, he described Nitish as ‘situational CM.’ The statement could be a tutored ploy to indicate a distance between him and the CM or the genuine outburst of a criminal against the man responsible for jailing him for 11 long years. Both ways, it suits Nitish: if it indicates distance, political rivals can’t accuse him of favoring the RJD gangster; if it’s a genuine outburst, the Bihar CM can go around claiming that he kept him in the jail for 11 long years, while for the reasons of stability of the alliance government, he has compromised on his cherished principle.
So far, the Bihar CM’s tactic has been not to make any comment on the release of the gangster or on the comments made against him. On Sunday he said that he didn’t desire to respond to “such things (Mohammad Shahabuddin ’s criticism)” that the people hadn’t given him a mandate. “Everyone knows whom people have given the mandate. I have never reacted to such things,” Nitish said, going on to advise the media not to spend time and space on Mohammad Shahabuddin.
Taking the cue, Mohammad Shahabuddin said, “As far as the mandate is concerned, even Madhu Koda (independent MLA who became Jharkhand CM) had got a mandate.” He reiterated that Lalu Prasad was his leader. In this, Mohammad Shahabuddin found support instantly coming from RJD vice-president Raghuvansh Prasad Singh: “Mohammad Shahabuddin has not said anything wrong; it is Lalu Prasad who is our leader,” said the former Union minister. “I had opposed the move to make Nitish the CM but the party went ahead with it. Mohammad Shahabuddin is right in calling Nitish a leader of circumstances.”