Bihar Chief Minister and JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar has taken yet another huge political gamble, this time by returning to the NDA fold. And with his departure, the initiative to cobble together a grand alliance to take on the rendra Modi juggerut at the Centre — on the lines of the ‘mahagathbandhan’ in Bihar — may now be nipped in the bud. But then, the 20-month experiment in Bihar that had made strange political bedfellows of Nitish Kumar and RJD supremo Lalu Prasad, long seemed destined to end in acrimonious divorce. Keen to continue as Bihar’s ‘Vikash Purush’, Nitish Kumar has been staking everything on development and clean governce. Lalu Prasad meanwhile has been embroiled in CBI and ED investigations into his alleged corrupt dealings and ‘bemi’ property. But all this time, he saw it fit to push the political fortunes of his two sons at the expense of Nitish Kumar’s credibility, as RJD was the senior partner in the alliance with 80 seats compared to JD(U)’s 71 seats. That the Congress with its 27 seats failed to play a mediatory and stabilising role between the two parties is yet another failure of its vaunted ‘high command’. The JD(U) leadership (Sharad Yadav being a notable exception) has now come out with allegations of how difficult it had been to run a government in Bihar with the RJD, given its caste-based agenda and hobnobbing with crimils. While RJD and Congress are accusing Nitish Kumar of rank opportunism and betraying the secular mandate, political observers are wondering how he will fare in the 2019 parliamentary election with the sizeable Yadav and Muslim electorates, considering that the JD(U) maged to secure just two Lok Sabha seats in 2014. But having supported the Prime Minister’s demonetisation move, introduction of GST, surgical strikes by the Indian Army and the NDA’s presidential candidate in Ram th Kovind, Nitish Kumar has made clear his belief that the BJP is setting the agenda of political discourse in the country. Having earlier voiced his disinclition to stand as a potential Opposition PM candidate, Bihar’s Chakya has now joined hands with Modi to take forward the corruption-versus-development plank.