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Big challenge for stalwarts in New Year

Patna, Dec. 31: Be it chief minister Nitish Kumar, his archrival RJD chief Lalu Prasad, BJP heavyweight Sushil Kumar Modi or LJP boss Ram Vilas Paswan, the state’s political stalwarts would face enormous challenges in 2014.

The outcome of the ensuing Lok Sabha elections would clarify if Nitish could hold on to his “all-conquering” persona that he displayed in the 2009 Lok Sabha and 2010 Assembly polls. Besides, it would decide if Lalu Prasad, who lost his Lok Sabha membership after being convicted in a fodder scam case, survives as a leader of his pack.

Same applies to Sushil Modi, who lost his position as the deputy chief minister in the wake of the JD(U)-BJP split. The 2014 elections would decide if he emerges as a bigger leader than what he was in Nitish’s company or slips.

Paswan, who won in Hajipur, with a record margin in the past, lost the seat in 2009. He, too, has to reinvent his worth in 2014.

Be it his calculations to do better politically by dumping the BJP for projecting Narendra Modi as its prime ministerial candidate or the risk taken on the principle of not accepting an allegedly “communal” face as the Prime Minister, Nitish parted ways with his 17-year-old ally in June.

After the split, the death of 23 kids after consuming poisonous midday meal at a school at Gandaman in Saran district, and Indian Mujahideen-sponsored serial blasts at Bodhgaya on July 7 and at the BJP rally in Patna on October 27 triggered posers on Nitish’s governance. The Naxalites also stepped up their activities. The weakening numerical strength of the government also encouraged the underworld operators, prompting spurt in loot, kidnapping and robbery.

It is not known if the Muslims constituting about 16 per cent of the state’s electorate would support Nitish’s JD(U) lock, stock and barrel. But Nitish, as of now, is under the spell of facing starkest attack on his leadership and performance from the BJP with 91 MLAs, suddenly bolstering the opposition rank.

Narendra Modi, whom Nitish had kept at bay throughout his alliance with the BJP in the state, landed at the Gandhi Maidan and launched virulent attack on the Bihar chief minister.

The 2014 Lok Sabha polls would virtually decide if Nitish succeeds in stopping Modi’s “juggernaut”.

Lalu also has an uphill task in hand. After losing his position of a lawmaker and the right to contest the election, he has the stupendous task ahead to remain the “boss” of the RJD by ensuring the victory of his party nominees in the Lok Sabha polls.

Sushil Modi is full with fire and brimstone after losing the coveted post of deputy chief minister. But the electoral performance of the BJP in 2014 would eventually decide if the poster boy of Bihar BJP goes up or down.

The 2014 polls would virtually offer Paswan the last chance to regain his status as a meaningful Dalit leader. If he fails, he runs the risk of getting relegated to history.