The curious case of Bihar

Himanshu Shekhar

This may not be the topic under discussion in the power zones but news media is busy in forecasting the divorce of JDU and BJP in Bihar. Some analysts are saying that these two allies are on the brink of messy divorce. Speculation over the same sparkled after the recent advertisement controversy. Narendra Modi, Chief Minister of Gujrat was scheduled to arrive at Patna, the capital city of Bihar to attend national executive meet of BJP. And, before his arrival an advertisement appeared in some local newspapers praising Gujrat for supporting Bihar at the time of Kosi deluge and welcoming Modi to Bihar.

But the picture used in the same advertisement annoyed Nitish Kumar, Chief Minister of Bihar. In this picture ‘Bihar’s heartthrob’ Nitish is seen with ‘BJP’s poster boy’ Narendra Modi and both are clasping their hand. This was the picture of NDA pre-election rally, which was organized in Ludihana in 2009. This controversial advertisement was given by those Bihari’s who live in Gujrat and doing well at the front of business.

Some leaders of JDU sense that this advertisement was given to local newspapers with the consent of Narendra Modi. Annoyed Nitish, withdrawn his dinner invitation to BJP leaders and that was enough for fuelling speculation. However, the top leadership of BJP as well as local leaders made it clear that they are not intending to stop their poster boy Narendra Modi. Even Party’s senior leader Lal Krishna Advani opened his mouth over this issue. He said holding hands is a sign of friendship not of enmosity. Top leadership of both parties have never commented on their speculated divorce but leaders of both sides express their resentments time by time.

Nitish Kumar returned Rs 5 crore the Gujarat government had sent as aid to Bihar during the 2008 Kosi floods. In retaliation, Sushil Kumar Modi, Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar, restrained himself to participate in Vishwas Yatra. He was supposed to go to Paliganj near the state capital with Nitish Kumar. After returning of money to Gujrat, some local BJP leader lambasted over Nitish for this act. Oppostion parties are calling it a gimmick.

However, Both parties know very well that they need each other to gain power in Bihar and to show the strength at center. That’s why JDU chief Sharad Yadav is trying to work as a peacemaker and saying all is well. At the core of this development is the different identity of both parties and they want to maintain it on the best possible cost. Anti Modi tone of Nitish is required to allure Bihar’s 16.5 percent Muslim votes. In other hand, Brand Modi is the necessity of BJP to woo its core Hindu voters. Assembly election in Bihar is slated for this year and experts believe that cast and communal politics is going to play a major role in these polls.

Attracting Muslim voters have never been easy for Nitish because of Lalu Prasad Yadav. Lalu ruled Bihar for 15 years because of his unique Muslim-Yadav equation. Apart from this, Muslim voters are naturally inclined to Congress up to some extent. So, holding hand of a party, which is no less than a villain in the eyes of Muslims for Babri demolition and post-Godhra massacre of 2002, to be in power and wooing voters of this community becomes more difficult for Nitish Kumar. He loves to project himself as a liberal and secular face of Bihar’s politics with pro-development tincture.

After the result of recent by-elections in Bihar, Nitish knows very well that for coming back to state’s power he need to do something more. And, for this he is trying his best to prove that he is a real well-wisher of Muslims. In recent by-elections RJD-LJP performed very well and Nitish’s development Raga did nothing. On the other hand, Nitish is in the know of this fact that upper cast votes are also needed to retain the power of Bihar.

The upper cast voter of Bihar is not happy with Nitish Kumar because they think that they have been marginalized by the incumbent government. This section of voters is looking towards Congress with hope but this party is still struggling to get things on place. Congress is not having a strong and known face in Bihar. Upper cast is scared of Lalu and this section doesn’t want Lalu to come back to power. So, they have no option except casting their votes in favour of incumbent alliance. If Nitish decides to go solo then he will hardly get support from this section and there are so many buyers of Muslim votes. So, Nitish can’t be that much confident of getting clear support from Muslim community.

There is a section which is of the view that JDU and Congress are likely to forge an alliance before assembly polls. This speculation sparkled when Nitish warmly welcomed Pranab Mukharjee, Senior Congress leader and Union Finance Minister just after the BJP’s rally in Patna. Political analysts are not ready to believe that JDU-Congress alliance is possible, because, with only 9 MLA’s in state assembly, congress is struggling to maintain its presence in state.

It is worth mentioning that Congress ruled this state for a long period but after the rise of Lalu its stake in state politics is contracting. If Nitish joins hands with this party then Congress will be rejuvenated in Bihar and may gain some political mileage. Today, Nitish Kumar is in the position from where he can give some energy to Congress and by the help of which its tally of 9 will improve. Nitish would hate to further strengthen any party, which may play the role of an opponent in future.

Instead of joining hands with congress, Nitish would like to be with BJP and make it weaker in terms of electoral gains. Doing this will keep Congress out of scene and RJD-LJP alliance out of power. If this strategy works in the upcoming election then after a certain time he might think over to go solo, but, keeping the pressure of national politics in mind, it appears to be next to impossible. There is no third force at national level. So, regional parties have to be either with Congress or with the BJP.

It is pertinent to mention that Bihar is not Orissa, where Naveen Patnaik parted company with BJP and went solo in elections and emerged as a winner. The same act from Nitish can’t be expected in Bihar because the political equation of both states is quite different. Experts believe that Nitish minus BJP will not be enough to form a government in state. There was no strong opposition in Orissa but the case of Bihar is different. LJP-RJD alliance has proved in the recent by-elections that they are not out of scene.

3 thoughts on “The curious case of Bihar

  1. so, new equetions are expected to come up in Bihar.Big question of new alliance is getting clearer day after day. Nitish seems politically correct just like Patnayak. but’s the lose if Nitish gets one more feather to its crown as a central ministry.creating an atmosphere and making something out of it is all about the political skill. if nitish succeed in detaching itself from Bjp….i will take it a win…win. for Nitish. regional politics is dominating the national, is all proven now.

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