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Bihar Poll Verdict : Hidden Socio-Political Reality

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Let’s recall the days when,after 1995 poll,Laluji appeared invincible with his frenzied proclamation of MY & OBC+SC unflinching backing.When Nitishji parted way from Laluji to form his Samta Party,he was almost in political wilderness.He needed a patronizing political umbrella as succour.The then BJP think tank,knowing full well that denting Lalu vote bank was direly needed if BJP had to forge ahead,welcomed Nitishji in NDA.Nitishji brought with him an impressive section of OBC behind NDA.It paid dividend in 1998 Lok Sabha poll.It was this experience that led them to accept Nitish Kumar as CM despite his party having lesser number in the Assembly.The bottom line is that BJP projected Nitish Kumar as NDA’s face in  Bihar in order to win over OBC.

After NDA govt came to power in 2005, Nitish Kumar always remembered that BJP was dependent on him for OBC votes.But unfortunately BJP forgot this truth.I don’t blame BJP leaders for this because the party doesn’t believe in following caste oriented attitude as a principle.But Nitish Kumar was free to dot this line, as it suited BJP too.He expanded to EBC and Mahadalit in his first term as CM.He began to reach out to Muslim vote bank,which was still split between Lalu Pd and him.When Narendra Modi began to get prominence in BJP as probable PM candidate,he found it detrimental to his Muslim-pampering exercise.Now BJP should have no hesitation in accepting the naturally emerging conclusion that Nitish Kumar had in his mind a secret aspiration of forging his own winning combination caste-based vote bank on day first of his anointment as CM.He was silently but steadily working on his close-to-heart agenda.And all along his BJP ministers kept toiling like bulls to implement his development agenda.BJP’s Finance minister created vast exchequer for development work, Road Construction minister built all roads and bridges, Health minister made govt hospitals rich with services & facilities.But credit never went to BJP.The bottom line here is that while BJP was a partner in the ruling combine it remained oblivious of filling the deficit in its social base, for which it was dependent on,and compelled to be subservient to, Nitish Kumar.

When Narendra Modi was officially declared PM candidate, Nitish Kumar decided not to risk the success of his forays in to Muslim vote bank. He parted ways to impress this section. But in 2014 Look Sabha poll his vote bank he had assiduously created didn’t give him success independently as the social sections he banked on were still divided between Laluji and him.Hence he swallowed the spit, patched up with Laluji, and fought 2014 Assembly bye-election in coordination with Laluji.This yielded result, and the combine bagged 6 out of 10 seats.Lalu & Nitish tasted blood.This laid the plinth of this Mahagathbandhan which swept 2015 election. Result doesn’t surprise,because Bihar had witnesses such verdicts (though with lesser numbers) in 1995 & 2000 assembly polls.What really surprises is that BJP didn’t gauge this situation.

This assembly election was fought by the MGB with shrewd  strategy.In  the light of the foregoing analysis I am led to a perception that even before reservation issue cropped up, total polarisation of Lalu & Niitish following vote bank had taken place.Nitish Kumar left it on Lalu Prasad the onus of creating sociopolitical frenzy of “MandalRaj-2”,which he did in a shameless style that reminds of his casteist observations in his 1995 public rallies.Nitish Kumar himself limited to harping on developmental issues,thereby balancing,and compensating for, the deficit in Laluji approach.Vote banks of both felt assured that since Nitish Kumar would head the administration, Laluji’s jungle-dom would be in control.OBC,EBC,SC etc supported by Muslims rallied behind Mahagathbandhan.They polarised because Lalu Pd is still considered a saviour of the backward people who still acknowledge that it was he who gave them courage and voice to protest the bullying upper caste.They have reaffirmed him as the icon of Bihari backwards’ pride.

This is return of Mandal Raj.There is no ambiguity about it.It is Mandal Raj-2, as Laluji gave clarion call in his rallies.What is significant is that this return is more emphatic than its advent in the 90’s.The entire psychological impetus of voters was guided by this objective in their mind.The cacophony created on rising prices of pulses & mustard oil or intolerance issue or reservation issue served as sheer background music to the silent, secret, sinister move going underneath to polarise voters in the name of Bihari backward icons.They struggled hard to drive home their opinion that Modiji, who may be a backward, was just an outsider, and not a Bihari.And thus, Mandal Raj -2 entered Bihar with a deafening bang.

BJP remained limited to its committed voters.It could not expand its support base, as it had expected to do.The party or its Bihar leaders or central leaders cannot be blamed in any way.The psychological impact of Laluji’s call for backward polarisation was never perceptible on ground.Secretive nature of this polarisation has its own significance seen in the backdrop of the polarisation of the 90’s, when people were vocal about it.This time they chose to remain silent in view of the fact that they were choosing two icons of corruption– RJD & Congress– against BJP which has corruption-free image backed by Narendra Modi’s development plank.They are still srcretive .On ground I still find that MGB voters still avoid admitting the electoral preference they exercised. Why this stance after all?One likely reason may be that they are not sure as to what they did is right.Even then they chose to opt for Mandal-2 under emotional duress.They gave the mandate to Lalu Prasad with expectation of good governance by Nitish Kumar.This support, therefore,is not whole-hearted, rather shaky and experimental one.Here lies a silver lining in the otherwise clouded sky for BJP.

I shall be the last person to suggest that BJP should begin to toe the same caste based approach to augment its following. It requires RJDian shamelessness to stoop to unimaginable low.BJP leaders need not learn or practice this.What BJP needs to do is to implement developmental measures directly by the Central govt.Areas of such projects should be chosen meticulously which directly benefit the have-nots.Take,for example, Skill Development.PM has announcemed a Skill Development University in Bihar.Open it soon and spread its centre up to subdivision or,at least, district level.Central govt can directly provide the skilled youth with initial capital if they wish to go for self employment. You have to win people’s heart through concrete measures.Ministries whose area of work is directly relevant to common man should try to ‘show’ some vigible/tangible changes that can be branded as Modi-effect.Railway ministry is engrossed with long term reforms of great value.But in short term it can try and ensure punctuality of trains.This will be spontaneously acclaimed as Modi effect.Telecom ministry is also doing great work, the impact whereof will be visible in the long run.But as of now it can sanitize the work culture of its offices up to district level, besides improving mobile and broadband facilities, and at the same time, making its officers responsive,empathetic and accountable to/for consumers problems.This,again, will be viewed as Modi effect.For departments whose work are in concurrent list, direct intervention can be wisely chosen.The bottom line here is that voters who still stick to caste, need to be influenced and won over with such development that they can see with their eyes and touch with their hands.

A large number of voters who had voted for BJP in the Lok Sabha poll seem to have shifted to MGB in this election.The reason, I reiterate, is purely emotional and psychological.BJP needs to win them back first before targeting new voters.BJP leaders should adopt only, and only, an emotional approach as if tackling a sulking child.It will be imperative to avoid any direct attack on the MGB govt and its failings or malfunctioning, as and when it is visible.In such situation BJP should behave like a martyred ‘Abhimanyu’ now disabled by people to work for them.Side-by-side central govt development work should be pushed nearer the masses in which Bihar leaders should be visibly active.The three caste leaders whom BJP nurtures as NDA allies have failed to garner their caste votes.They may be advised, cautiously and without antagonising them, to go to their people and win them back.What about the 186 NDA candidates who lost?Why not press them into field work right now in their respective constituencies?How far it is practical to allow them to work for the next term right from now?How can their time and energy may be utilised for the four years when next Loke Sabha polls reappear?If BJP can decide right now to let one person to lead its ground work in one constituency, it will be highly fruitful.Of course, it will be an innovative measure.But situation does call forth innovation.Repetition of Delhi in Bihar is a bad omen for the party.Assembly polls in UP,West Bengal,Assam etc are crucial.In these states too similar polarisation against BJP is possible.And finally 2019 Lok Sabha polls may see the culmination of such efforts by anti BJP parties.The party has to think over the future strategy with all seriousness.Planning over, be down-to earth, move to the masses.Hard work is required.BJP improved from 4 to 84 and to 282 in Lok Sabha.In Bihar assembly too it can move from 57 to 157.

*vande mataram*vande mataram*vande mataram*vande mataram*


Author: Vijoy Das

Teach English literature at university. Love RSS, hate Leftists. Hate politics but love politicians with integrity.Yearn to see India as a strong global player. Chant Vande Mataram.

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