An old reality is Nitish Kumar’s snapping of over one and half decade old ties with BJP. He knows and the world knows, this happened because of Narendra Modi’s enduring interest in core rightist ideology unlike his octogenarian predecessor in looking back mode, L K Advani. Nitish was comfortable with Advani, before and after the later’s heartily endorsement as Jinnah as ‘secular’. Although in collective reckoning, Jinnah was not a secular leader – and Advani too didn’t loose his faith in aggressive Hindutva, but the politics is not to track on a linear path. Thus in nostalgia of better handled BJP under a softer yet staunch nationalist, Nitish called it a day to go further on his own in 2013.
His party fought epoch-making parliamentary elections without any alliance and performed poorly in Bihar. On the other side, the elections decisively brought Modi at centre – and Nitish responded it awkwardly by resigning from the post of Bihar’s CM. This was a blunder, which later aggravated when his unknown successor, Jitan Ram Manjhi fallen in love with grabbing headlines under the guidance of his long standing mentor and former CM of Bihar, Jagganath Mishra. Noticeably, Mishra’s son has been holding key ministries in both the terms of Nitish government – but in want of more, he did everything that went against the interest of Nitish government.
Finally, Nitish came back but not without loosing the crucial fraction of his party forever. Thus, he was forced out to be in bonhomie with no favourite Lalu Yadav led RJD and the Congress. Ironically, these parties made what Nitish is today, a remarkable leader despite helming for over a decade in state. This after charting a separate route since 1993, when he formed Samta Party and later emerged as a reliable alternative in Bihar as someone who could end the tyranny of Lalu’s Jungle Raj. Meanwhile, Congress played a spoiler in state politics by offering its helping hands to then the ruling regimes with very weak credential.
Thus evidently, Nitish has a right DNA to do clean politics, Modi should not have commented on it in fashion of loose rank Mani Shankar Aiyar, who made him immensely popular within minutes of calling him ‘Chai Wala’. The word matters, only one has to travel beyond the dramatic confine to realise it – now both Aiyar and Modi know it well and almost in similar proportion, even when the Bihar’s verdict is still awaited. Hence apropos old reality, the time is to acknowledge the new reality – and here, Lalu is Nitish’s ally and of course Sonia Gandhi too, who is looking east-side now to let end the painful old memories of southern odyssey that factored for unimaginable scams and gave Congress a new number, 44 in the lower house of parliament.
BJP calls it an ‘Alliance of Convenience’ that actually reads like a brilliant ‘header’ – the reason why publicity-savvy Modi left no chance unturned to emulate it and getting with his own by-line in partnership of, a highly intuitive man of all seasons Ram Vilash Paswan (he resigned as Union Railway Minister after Gujarat Riot), a day-dreamer Upendra Kushwaha, a news-hungry Jitan Ram Manjhi and Pappu Yadav, the charmer with crime and socially productive thoughts. Although, noticeable is how all identities are being blurred to give an easy passage to ‘caste’, here begins the fault-line!
In the changed time, everyone is also eager to claim for Ram Manohar Lohia and Jaiprakash Narayan’s (JP’s) legacy. While speaking at Bhagalpur, Modi turned a JPite while reminding Nitish where he is going with Congress. Further, he paused and replicated his shower of monetary stats, where he leveraged an indifferent crowd with the 14th Finance Commission’s fortune-sharing plan with Bihar and everyone present there. That was momentous and it lasted soon. Next, he lined-up incorrect figures and facts about the status of governance in Bihar.
As per him, the last twenty-five years have been Jungle Raj (including NDA’s nine years) in Bihar – in saying this, he sabotaged his own party’s good works in 2015-2013. Ahead, another factual blunder – he said Bihar is faring very badly on Human Development Indexes, including health – but for long, BJP leaders were in charge of Health Ministry and they must be in deep distress for PM’s jet-lagged homely.
In the main course of events before the formal beginning of Bihar election campaign, Modi used both the government and party funded programmes to hammer the Bihari pride, shaped in recent years, by questioning the DNA of Nitish and Biharis-at-large. This took off as the grand alliance’s key poll catch-word against the directly headquarter-driven BJP in Bihar. No leader to be projected as Chief Ministerial candidate, the typical Modi-styled poll campaigns appear delinked from the ground realities.
Meanwhile, ‘we’ replaced with ‘I’ in prime minister’s rhetorical economic announcements, a case in point is his latest public airing of ‘repackaged package’ that has in Rs 1.25 lakh crore, less than 17, 000 crore new for poll-bound Bihar. Although, he was doing a good work by announcing it and releasing Rs 40, 000 crore more for the completion of ongoing projects but manner in which he did it actually got backfired.
With rare self-indulgence, the PM has also shown during the campaigns how he cares less for the institution he heads. Just few days back at Gandhi Maidan during Swabhiman Rally, unlike Modi and Lalu – Nitish spoke like a statesman and stood on ground, with documentary evidences, supporting his exemplary performance in a state with adverse fundamentals.
In any case, it is wishful that the serving PM keeps his belief in the people and democratic processes. This is more so when his policy lieutenants are habitual multitaskers and they may jump to innovate his party’s Bihar election campaign, out of the proportion – at cost of turning the polls too much fun-filled.
The Swabhiman Rally in Gandhi Maidan had shown, the rusticity could be matched and the prospect of development too can stay on ground. Not to confuse with Modi’s Gujarat Model, this is Bihar Model of Nitish Kumar and Lalu Yadav, who respectively are capable enough to match Modi on fronts of development and jibes.
With having near fifty per cent votes share and technically capable now to turn the votes into seats, the Nitish camp will effortlessly give a tough competition to its rival camp. Together with a Common Minimum Programme, even the enemies can smile in company – NDA politicians especially Modi-Amit Shah knows it well. So, they must plan to do actual ground works and as the best practice, the BJP should reconsider on its game plan that keeps its heart in bombarding the state of Bihar, with uncountable numbers of Modi hoardings and banners.
With such ideological adulteration and disdain for own relatively cleaner Bihar leadership makes BJP wearing a clownish attire for upcoming polls in state. Modi should read the situation right here and let the local leaders do some actual work.
As of now, they are living with a diminished existence and this is going to bring poll debacle for BJP in upcoming elections. On the same falling line, isn’t it unfortunate that a brain-dead’s league (as called by Yashwant Sinha) ‘Margdarshak Mandal’, now has in its fold many competent leaders from Bihar?
The forgotten Modi, Sushil Modi of Bihar should be recalled now. He is too young to be in Margdarshak Mandal. This will make elections, little sober and give the PM, much wished valuable time for other important works than campaignings. Of late, he is the executive head of the nation – also not less a genuine BJP Pracharak!
The author is a New Delhi based writer and journalist – he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org