Patna: Nitish Kumar’s Son Nishant Kumar Poised to Enter Bihar Politics, Challenging Established Dynasties

M.I. Khan,

Patna: Young Tejashwi Yadav, Chirag Paswan and Santosh Suman may soon face competition in Bihar’s caste-ridden politics from another young man: Nishant Kumar, the only son of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and president of the ruling Janata Dal (United) or JD-U. Speculation is rife that Nishant will soon enter politics, fueled by reports from within the JD-U indicating a growing demand for him to assume leadership due to a perceived lack of second-tier leadership in the party.

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Amidst this clamor, a significant question looms in political circles: will Nitish’s son enter politics? If he does, it will add yet another political family to the long list in the state’s politics.

Nitish, 73, has been a vocal critic of dynasty politics and stands out as one of the few top leaders in the country whose family members are not involved in politics. Over the past three decades, he has consistently criticized his primary political rival, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, and his wife, former Chief Minister Rabri Devi, for promoting their sons and daughters in politics.

Even during the extensive two-month election campaign for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, Nitish repeatedly targeted Lalu and his son Tejashwi over the issue of dynasty politics. It is ironic that the chief minister, a prominent ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), vehemently denounces dynasty politics while several leaders of his party have promoted their family members in politics.

A political analyst remarked that Nitish has compromised his credibility with such statements. If his son were to enter politics tomorrow, who would take his anti-dynasty stance seriously? Nitish, who once claimed he would prefer to die than ally with the BJP, has not only joined the BJP-led NDA but has also formed governments with them thrice in the last decade alone.

His vocal opposition to dynasty politics appears tailored for public consumption and to garner anti-Lalu votes in Bihar since the mid-1990s. It would not be surprising if his son were to assume a significant position within the JD-U.

Nishant, despite his father holding power in Bihar since 2005 and being in politics since the 1980s, remains relatively unknown to the people. In his 40s, he is described as simple, soft-spoken and calm, maintaining a non-controversial image thus far. Like his father, Nishant is also an engineer.

In the past two weeks, several JD-U leaders, including Vidhanand Vikal and Rana Randhir Singh, have called for Nishant’s entry into politics to strengthen the party. They asserted he possesses all the necessary qualities to provide youthful leadership to both the party and the state.

Youth leaders within the JD-U are actively lobbying for Nishant to join the party, aiming to rejuvenate its image currently dominated by older leaders. “Nishant’s arrival in the JD-U would revolutionize the party; he brings youth and vigor, promising a fresh perspective,” remarked Shukant Kumar, a young JD-U worker.

However, senior JD-U leader and Bihar Minister Vijay Kumar Choudhary dismissed reports of Nishant’s imminent political debut as “baseless”. Several years ago, Nishant had publicly stated his disinterest in politics and his intention never to pursue it. Yet, as the saying goes, “A week is a long time in politics”, suggesting his stance may have evolved since then.

All eyes are now on the JD-U’s upcoming national executive meeting on June 29 in New Delhi, where a decision regarding Nishant’s potential entry into politics may be made. The party leaders acknowledge that in the current political climate, anything is possible, and no outcome can be ruled out.

If Nishant does enter politics, as speculated in local Hindi media, he would follow the footsteps of Bihar’s Leader of Opposition and former Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav, as well as Union Minister Chirag Paswan, who heads the Lok Janshakti Party-Ramvilas (LJP-R), an ally of the BJP.

Tejashwi and Chirag represent established political families in Bihar. While the former is widely viewed as the natural heir to Lalu’s political legacy, the latter is seen as the political successor to Ram Vilas Paswan.

Lalu’s family includes his two sons, Tejashwi and Tej Pratap Yadav, his two daughters, Misa Bharti and Rohini Acharya, and his wife, Rabri Devi, all of whom are active in politics.

Similarly, Chirag’s brother-in-law, Arun Bharti, recently won the Jamui Lok Sabha seat, and his estranged uncle and cousin are also involved in politics.

Other examples abound: former Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, founder of the Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM), another NDA ally, won the Gaya parliamentary seat, while his elder son, Santosh Suman, serves as party president and Bihar minister. Manjhi’s son’s mother-in-law also holds a legislative position.

Additionally, former Bihar Chief Minister Jagannath Mishra’s son, Nitish Mishra, is a minister in the state.

Many other politicians in the state have family members — sons, daughters, sons-in-law, brothers-in-law and even son’s mother-in-law — actively involved in politics.

In the recent Lok Sabha elections, nearly a dozen new MPs from political families were elected. Notable examples include BJP MP Vivek Thakur from Nawada, who is the son of former Union Minister CP Thakur, and BJP MP Ravi Shankar Prasad from Patna Sahib, who is the son of former Minister Thakur Prasad. Lalu’s daughter Misa Bharti has been elected as MP from Patliputra.