By Arun Srivastava
Refusal of Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, to keep his promises made to Chirag Paswan, son of late Ram Vilas Paswan and insulting him in full public view at the insistence of the Nitish Kumar and a section of Bihar BJP leaders is leading to a massive churning in the state politics. Possibilities of fall of the NDA government in Bihar headed by Nitish Kumar is also not being ruled out.
After the death of the union minister Ram Vilas Paswan, his son Chirag was assured by Modi that he would take care of his political interest and in fact in return of this gesture Chirag has openly described himself as the Hanuman of Modi. But after ten months of Paswan’s death the political scenario has changed. Chirag was optimist of Modi coming to his help after his uncle deserted him along with other four members of Lok Sabha. But Nitish exploiting the fragility of the political situation forced Modi to shut the door on Chirag’s face.
But this action of Modi has proved to be a boon in disguise for Chirag. In sudden change of political equations he has turned the blue eyed boy of RJD supremo Lalu Prasad. In the changed scenario Chirag is being projected as the public face of the centrist and liberal forces in their fight against the rightist RSS and BJP. RJD would project Ram Vilas as the Dalit messiah and celebrate his birthday as the day of reckoning for Dalit aspiration. TejashviYadav has announced that Chirag Paswan can take forward his father’s legacy only by joining the “existential fight” against RSS ideologue M S Golwalkar’s thoughts.
With this the BJP abandoning his old ally will get a concrete ideological projection. This is expected to arouse the ethnic sentiments detrimental to the saffron interest. Tejashvi has already dropped the hints of challenges ahead by saying that the country is at a juncture where pro-Constitution, pro-democracy, pro-farmers and pro-people forces are on one side and those antithetical to this ideology are on the other side.
In fact Tejashvi tried his best to identify his party and Lalu Prasad as the well-wishers of Ram Vilas Paswan and recounted that when the LJP did not even have a single MLA and Paswan lost the election in 2009, it was Lalu Prasad who sent him to Rajya Sabha from the RJD quota.
Though Chirag’s uncle and his MP colleagues deserted the LJP and joined Nitish’s JD(U), one significant development, contrary to general perception, that took place was entire rank and file of the party pledging its support to Chirag. This sent the strong message that the common Dalits and dusadhs are with Chirag. The dalit rank and file continuing to assert their loyalty to Chirag would boost is stature in any future political realignment.
Significantly, Chirag has announced “aashirvaad yatra” from July 5, the birth anniversary of his father from Hajipur in Bihar. This would fire the imagination of the Dalits and provide them with the right opportunity to identify them with Chirag’s mission and fight. On its part the RJD leadership is making all out efforts to project Paswan as a socialist leader. Tejashvi said; “he was a socialist and a firm believer in the idea of social justice throughout his life. He fought caste supremacy, poverty and inequality during his political journey”.
Chirag joining hands with RJD has provided the right opportunity to Tejashvi to attack Nitish. He took a dig at Nitish saying those who have engineered this split were vengeful against Chirag Paswan as he fought against them in last assembly elections. He said; “Ram Vilas Ji made Chirag Ji his heir apparent by appointing him as the party’s national president and the parliamentary leader in Lok Sabha and it is up to him now as to how he carries forward his father’s legacy. Those who are questioning him now, why they didn’t do so when he was made national president of LJP”.
There is no denying the fact that Nitish has lived on borrowed mandate and has always played his game with support of borrowed players. This is the prime secret behind his remaining in the office of chief minister for 15 long years.
Chirag on his part did not conceal his intentions to join hands with Tejashvi. Days after Tejashwi invited him to enter into a coalition with the RJD, Chirag Paswan said the RJD leader was like his younger brother and a decision on a possible alliance between the two parties will be taken at a time when there will be elections in the state.
“My father (Ram Vilas Paswan) and Laluji (Tejashwi’s father) have always been close friends. RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav and I know each other since childhood, we’d a close friendship, he is my younger brother. When election time will come in Bihar then the party will take a final call on the alliance,” said Chirag, who is also an MP from Jamui.
With Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad set to return to Bihar soon, hectic political activities have started in the opposition camp and the leaders of the mahagathbandhan nurse the view that it would galvanise the opposition rank and file. If sources are to believed he played the key role from behind the scene to Tejashvi coming closer to Chirag.
No doubt Ram Vilas did not command immense support base amongst the Dalits, but he was the public face of the Dalits. From the beginning of his political career, Ram Vilas tried to identify himself as the disciple of Ram Manohar Lohia and later in nineties he shifted his allegiance to Mandal politics and social justice of V P Singh. He never tried consciously to build his image of a dalit leader. But even then he commands a significant section of the Dalits, particularly Paswans and Dusadhs.
Leaders of Grand Alliance and even Chirag nurse the feeling that coming together of RJD and LJP would bring about a fundamental change in the power equation of the state. A section of the Dalits who had pledged their support to the BJP would prefer to retreat and stand by the new political combination. This would undoubtedly erode the support base of the BJP. In recent times a significant number of Dalits have joined the RSS. The sources maintain that these new entrants to RSS would prefer to severe their relations with the saffron brigade.
Lalu Prasad would certainly not like to miss this opportunity to expand the base of the RJD. Though the Dalits nurse antagonistic relations with the Yadavs, most of whom belong to the intermediate farmers’ class, Lalu will have to ensure that this class interest is ironed out and they develop a better understanding. Leaders of the Grand Alliance are optimist that the return of the RJD chief would boost their enthusiasm and rock the boat of the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
It is a fact that Lalu’s return to Bihar will change the condition and direction of politics in the state. Already the Nitish government is not comfortable numerically in the Legislative Assembly. Also the bickering amongst the NDA constituents has been gradually intensifying. Already HAMS (Hindustani Awam Morcha Secular) and Vikassheel Insan Party have expressed their willingness to leave the NDA. They in fact have been waiting for the right opportunity to strike.
The manner in which the things are moving Bihar will see a new political equation during next couple of months. Already speculations are rife that the state may witness a change of government. Some dalit legislators belonging to BJP are in touch with the RJD. Optimism are also being expressed that the state will witness the re-emergence of the old caste relations with intermediate caste, middle peasantry and labourers pitted against the feudal forces and landlords. (IPA Service)