By Arun Srivastava
Revolt has much wider connotation and it has got an ideological implication. Actually the five Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) members of parliament severing their relationship with the party and later replacing Chirag Paswan as the party president by Pashupati Paras the younger brother of Ram Vilas Paswan, is more like a family opera.
Chirag being the heir of Ram Vilas and enjoying the trust of the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, managed to have his grip on the party. But the brothers of Ram Vilas nursed insolence personally towards him and his leadership. Even the rank and file and the junior level leaders nurtured the view that Dalits and especially the Musahars would not identify themselves with him and accept him as their leader.
After Ram Vilas’s death Chirag distanced himself from Nitish Kumar but continued to show his compete loyalty and obeisance to Modi but this did not help his party to win more than one seat in the assembly elections. The Dalits and extremely backwards had shifted their loyalty and support.
Paras has been quite close to Nitish and once he was also inducted in the cabinet. In fact the love and hate relationship between Nitish and Ram Vilas had been a major factor in both the leaders not coming closer to each other. After the death of Ram Vilas, these five MPs would come out of the wings of Chirag, assert their independent stature and join hands with Nitish has been an open secret. There were two reasons; first, Modi would not encourage this nature of defection and also the state BJP leadership has been quite hostile to these MPs.
How far this incident will succeed in creating a churning in state politics is not yet clear, but one thing is certain that this would enhance the bargaining power of Nitish. The fact of the matter is Nitish has lost his administrative credibility in the eyes of the RSS and BJP leadership. The recent revolt against him by Jitan Ram Majhi and Nishad has weakened his position. Both these leaders have beenin touch with the RJD chief Lalu Prasad. But the most sad commentary is Nitish is finding it hard to initiate the operation to salvage the situation. In the existing situation the task to protect the government has been undertaken by the BJP.
Some close aides of Nitish try to project the shift of the loyalty of the five LJP MPs as a sign to his having a firm grip on the administration. But the fact is otherwise. He intends to send a message to Modi that he is still the undisputed leader of backwards and Dalits. But this postulate is being rejected by the senior BJP leaders. They argue that since the five MPs could not assert their authority by remainings a separate group, they may join the JD(U). At least their voice will be recognised as the members of the JD(U).
This split in the LJP has completely eroded the façade of its being the party of Dalits. None of the five MPs could claim to have their own independent support base. They were not more than parasites. They completely relied on the weatherman art of Ram Vilas Paswan. Though he used to claim himself as the dalit leader his political tradition was different from the Ambedkar’s philosophy that has become the defining idiom of Dalit politics in recent times.
He managed to acquire a political recognition by supporting the political line of Vishwanath Pratap Singh on Mandal. He had come to realise than any political line espousing the cause of Dalits only would not succeed in the Indian context. That was the reason that while claiming to be a dalit leader, he shared the platform with leaders like Lalu Yadav, Sharad Yadav and others and practiced the politics of social justice. As social welfare minister in the VP Singh government, he was responsible for the implementation of the Mandal Commission report. But unfortunately the Singh government did not provide much opportunity for him to grow. Mandal limited his growth in national politics. Paswan eventually left the Janata Dal and formed the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) in 2000, which, however, failed to expand beyond his Dusadh caste.
It is a paradox that Paras had joined hands with Nitish, who for weakening the political grip of Ram Vilas on the Dalits had split the Dalits into two groups; Dalits and mahadalits. Though it is something else that this split did not bail out Nitish and the mahadalits still continue to lurch. It is worth mentioning that he never had a good relation with BSP chief Mayawati who has been unwilling to accept him as the dalit leader.
The dislike for one another was quite perceptible. While Ram Vilas claimed that he was the dalit leader and Narendra Modi was the leader of the backwards, he would asset “You cannot compare Narendra Modi to Nitish Kumar. One is on the top and the other is at the bottom. He (Kumar) is trying to show off. When the prime minister’s events happen, he (Kumar) gives his reactions and gets coverage in the media.”
These five MPs joining JD(U) would not bring about any significant change in the politics of state. Nitish has no vote base of his own, neither of Mahadalits nor of extremely backward classes and the vote base of his caste, too, is hardly 1.5%. Obviously these five MPs cannot expect much political help from him. Nor they can render any help to Nitish.
What is the political future of Chirag Paswan who still remains as a member of Lok Sabha. he is close to BJP but if he wants, will BJP take him, antagonisig other five LJP MPs. The family soap opera is still to be over and for the next few days, few more episodes may take place. (IPA Service)