Nitish Kumar, the most popular chief minister of India.
The Minimalist Mantri (politician). That is how The Indian Express describes the man who “has turned the fortunes of the state since he came to power” according to Forbes. Born on 1 March, 1951 in an area called Bakhtiapur in the district of Patna in Bihar, this 60-year-old former Railways Minister and second time Chief Minister of Bihar has “infused new life into a creaking state.” (Forbes)
Son of a freedom fighter, Nitish Kumar was born only four years after the country had got its independence form Britain. The son of Kaviraj Ram Lakhan Singh and Parmeshvari Devi, he grew up cycling through the streets of Patna and went to the Bihar College of Engineering (now National Institute of Technology, Patna) to study. After graduation he was married off to Manju Kumari Sinha in 1973 and the couple has a son.
Nitish's first stint at politics was under the leadership of Jayaprakash Narayan in the
1974. But it would be still another decade before he gets an office of power; in 1985 for the first time Nitish Kumar found himself sitting beside the decision makers inside the Bihar Legislative Assembly. After that there was no looking back.
Barely two years after becoming a member of the Legislative Assembly, Nitish Kumar assumed the post of the president of the Yuva Lok Dal. Another two years and he was elected the Secretary General of Janta Dal in 1989. The same year he was also elected into the Lok Sabha.
The next year brought more laurels to the man, now in his 40s. He was elected the Union Minister of State, Agriculture and Corporation (UMSAC). Though he had to resign within 18 months, this was far from being an exit from politics. Hardly had a year passed after his resignation as a UMSAC, he became the Union Railways Minister in 1991; a post he would hold thrice (1991, 1998 and 2002) before coming into power in Bihar.
With such portfolios Nitish Kumar was, by no means, an weak politician. But still not many people in the country had heard about him or knew much about him. People first had a glimpse of the man after he defeated Rashtriya Janta Dal, the incumbent party in the state elections in Bihar. The head of the party, Lalu Prasad Yadav, was a popular – and a little comical – politician in India so both journalists and common people alike were suddenly interested in the new Chief Minister of Bihar.
Within a couple of years after he became the Chief Minister, Bihari diaspora began returning to their native state and it was perhaps the most vocal sign that things were taking a turn for the good. Nitish's name began to be associated with good governance after a The Times of India report which put Bihar as the second fastest growing state in India.
His leadership skills were well rewarded when the people in the state once again chose to elect him and his party to power. Now he is two years into his second term and so far there it would be interesting to watch how the second time Chief Minister fares this time.