The rigmarole on the indian political scene, as expected, continues unabated. Our regular contributor, Nitin G. Raut puts in perspective the aftermath of last month’s elections in Bihar.
The dust over the Assembly elections in Bihar has settled. The results were seen by some as a re-affirmation of secularism and, by others, as a revival of casteist forces.
The results, no doubt, have focused the political spotlight on Nitish Kumar. But when the flush of victory wanes, Nitish will have to face the inevitable reality of real politics. The wily Laloo Prasad is not going to let him off the hook. In his anxiety to implement the ‘social justice’ agenda, the rationale of economic sanity is going to be the first casualty. The ‘social justice’ agenda of Laloo’s RJD is not to emancipate the depressed classes by providing skills and education to make them economically independent; but, to secure a captive vote-bank by ensuring that they hobble on the crutches of doles dished out under state financed schemes, grandiosely named after politicians. Laloo’s rule was a monument to the suffering of Biharis and corruption.
Dynastic and Caste Politics
Laloo is a politician who wants to retain power, directly or indirectly; forced out of the Chief Minister’s post over a scam, he saw to it that his wife Rabri Devi was installed as the CM. Now convicted in a scam, he has ensured that his son becomes the Deputy CM in Bihar. His only qualification is that he is Laloo’s son. And Nitish Kumar has meekly submitted to this new dynastic politics of Bihar. Laloo has tasted blood and there is that smile on his face! Nitish has mounted the tiger and his problem will be how to dismount it before the development is set in motion.
With his new found success, Nitish may well want to position himself as a rallying point for non-BJP forces and try to replicate Narendra Modi with Bihar as his launching pad for Prime Ministership. But here again there are over half a dozen regional aspirants. The failed Janata Party experiment is a grim reminder. Narendra Modi had the advantage of a Pan India party set-up, although weak in some parts. Nitish will have to be dependent on the mercurial Mamta and the casteist overlords like Mulayams, Laloos and Mayawati and other regional outfits. Bihar will now be a laboratory of different sorts of caste politics. Therefore, how development will reconcile with caste politics is going to make an interesting reading.
The Bihar election has ushered in a new era of BJP versus non-BJP with regional parties trying to consolidate their power on their turf. The Indira Congress (IC), of course, will now be a marginal player riding piggyback on the regional outfits. It will take extraordinary blunders on the part of the BJP to help the IC to stage a comeback. Rahul Gandhi’s new found aggressiveness is nothing but empty bravado personified. Having lost miserably in May 2014, he has nothing more to lose. His outbursts only confirm that his politics is without accountability and responsibility. Even his ‘coronation’ as President of IC will not help him because no regional satrap is going to share his turf with the IC at the cost of regional supremacy. Even during campaigning in Bihar, Nitish and Laloo both refused to share the platform with him.
Never-ending (sigh) woes of the commonman
The Bihar election propaganda had its enough low points. If BJP was accused of communalism, the mahagathbandhan made a virtue of caste politics. Both are equally pernicious and have outlived their relevance where development is the new mantra. The aspirational voter wants jobs, education, progress, improved standards of living and not empty rhetoric and confrontationist approach. If Prime Minister Narendra Modi becomes ‘bahari’ in Bihar, then by the same perverse logic Sonia Gandhi of Italian origin becomes a ‘bahari’ in the whole of India.
In 1990, L. K. Advani’s rath yatra was stopped at Samastipur by Laloo, then as CM of Bihar, and that was the beginning of the rise of the BJP. History has uncanny ways of repeating itself. If BJP is checkmated in November 2015 Bihar Assembly elections, it may well make them take a hard look at its politics. The question is – on whose side will history be!
Nitin G. Raut, advocate by profession and freelance writer. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org