By Arun Srivastava
Rebel JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav may not be a native of Bihar, but the state’s political relevance at the national level and the ability to provide a new political alternative has made him wager for the state. Sharad is conscious of the fact any political move starting from Bihar has its own political and ideological dimension, which he cannot think of getting in any other state. His faction of JD (U) is set to launch a new party ‘Loktantrik Janta Dal’ (LJD) in New Delhi on May 18, with focus on Bihar.
Though he would be launching his party in Delhi, his focus is on Bihar. It is the basic economic and social contradictions existing in Bihar that made him concentrate on Bihar. Misrule of Nitish and his betrayal of the secular forces, aligning with communal forces are the key issues that would constitute the core of the Sharad’s attack on Nitish and the motivation behind the formation of LJD.
No doubt the new party would speak of the national issues and the failure of the Modi government but it is explicit that any exercise devoid of mention of the betrayal by Nitish would not catch the imagination of the people of the country. For taking forward his mission of forming a joint forum of all opposition parties against the BJP, it is imperative that he should have chosen Bihar as the launching pad and in true earnest he has done so.
The new party would be launched at Talkatora Stadium in New Delhi with the participation of around 10,000 delegates from different parts of the country, including Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh. Sharad had split the party on the issue of Kumar’s decision to tie up with the BJP in July 2017 as he opposed the move and announced his support to the Congress and the RJD. An overwhelming number of elected party members and office bearers remained with Kumar but it does not mean that Sharad was denounced by the rank and file. Nitish enjoys the privilege of being in power.
Nitish had arbitrarily taken he decision to join hands with the BJP. “None of the party office bearers were consulted before taking such a crucial decision. Sharad ji protested against Nitish only for his act of keeping the rank and file in dark” said former party Rajya Sabha MP Ali Anwar.
For Sharad Yadav this is a step towards the formation of a ‘Mahagathbandhan’ (grand alliance), on the lines of the one which took on the BJP in Bihar in 2015, for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. “Drawing inspiration from the success of the Mahagathbandhan in Bihar, we are planning to replicate it across the country during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. I had discussion with Lalu ji on the issue,” said Yadav.
Apprehensions are expressed on the success of the new party in Bihar as political observers feel that it would not be possible for it to carve out an independent space. They also view with suspicion its potential to challenge Nitish Kumar. But a look at the ground level makes it clear that it would pose a serious challenge to Nitish and eat into his support bank. Apparently Nitish does not have an independent strong base of his own. His claim to have mahadalits with him has proved to be a failure. The two by elections, one to Lok Sabha from Araria and another the state assembly, have exposed that he is fast losing his supporters.
Sharad could well have joined the RJD but he refused to follow the beaten track. The motive behind the formation of the new party has been to win over the rich and affluent Yadavs. In Bihar Yadavs have three major sub-castes: Krishnaut, Majhraut and Gaderia. After the 2014 elections, the Majhraut and Krishnaut have shifted towards BJP. Through the new party Sharad intends to win over them and bring to his fold.
In case of some OBCs, they are not inclined to join hands with RJD though they are not with the BJP. They have adopted a political neutral stand. They are also at the target of Sharad. In fact, Sharad has been working on a formula to grab the support base of Nitish and also provide a platform to the neutral people, who are neither willing to hop to BJP or join the Nitish bandwagon. Sharad, in fact, has been working on the plan to bridge the gap between the Dalits-Yadavs-Muslims and the rich OBCs and Yadavs. Apparently it may appear to be a new alignment of the caste groups, but a closer look at the combination would make it clear that it is a first major move to bring the secular forces together on class lines. (IPA Service)