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Friday, July 28, 2017

Rutto’s walking a risky tightrope

Bomet Governor Isaac Rutto. /COLLINS KWEYU
Bomet Governor Isaac Rutto. /COLLINS KWEYU

Bomet Governor Isaac Rutto’s plunge into NASA politics may have come as a surprise to some but not to those in his inner sanctum. His political allies knew he had been mulling it over for a while ... as long as two years.

Rutto has been walking a tightrope, torn between sticking with an abusive Jubilee or flying away and finding himself a respectful partner.

It is in the public domain that the Bomet strongman has not been in the good books of the ruling party, due to his incessant demand for more funds to the devolved units.

Rutto was one of the founders of the now-defunct URP that partnered with the equally dead TNA to form the Jubilee coalition, which romped to victory in 2013.

Rutto’s cosy relationship with Deputy President William Ruto hit the rocks even before the end of 2013, when the former was elected chairman of the Council of Governors. This gave him the impetus and more clout to harangue UhuRuto to release more funds to the counties, arguing that the grassroots is where the money is most needed.

Soon more governors — including those in Jubilee’s strongholds — started echoing Rutto’s sentiments. This did not go down well with the ruling coalition honchos, especially Ruto, who felt his grip on power was being threatened.

The once-inseparable namesakes started to drift apart, as months turned into four solid years of bitter exchanges that further corroded their relationship. Before long, Jubilee’s rank and file jumped into the frosty relationship, tearing into Rutto whenever an opportunity presented itself.

Majority leader Aden Duale and Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen morphed from Ruto’s bosom friends to his fierce attack German Shepherds against Rutto.

Things came to a head when Ruto solely decided to wind up URP without consulting its founding members.

Rutto wasted no time in putting on his political gloves and going for the DP’s jugular — he birthed Chama Cha Mashinani.

As he was being fought by Jubilee, Rutto could take comfort in the fact that he was not alone. When Jubilee was not busy hitting him, it was doing overtime disparaging Baringo Senator Gideon Moi who proved he was not willing to be anyone’s punching bag.

Gideon had started to lean towards NASA but Uhuru’s mum Mama Ngina’s sojourns to Kabarak to plead with retired President Daniel Moi stopped him.

Rutto’s disdain for Jubilee is no secret. But this has not dissuaded the ruling party from sending emissaries to woo him back. But Jubilee’s condition is for him to dissolve CCM.

This is a no-no. It is tantamount to handing him a rope to commit political suicide.

When NASA came calling, it offered him irresistible offers, including making him one of the principals. Although Bomet has been a Jubilee stronghold, the events of the past few days will have far-reaching impact on the way the residents will vote.

Rutto still enjoys considerable support and will give JP’s candidate, Sotik MP Joyce Laboso, a run for her money.

By consulting his support base on his decision to join NASA, Rutto gave himself political mileage — the voters feel that they own him. Had he just walked into NASA, without seeking the voters’ views, he would have had an uphill task on August 8.

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