By Arun Srivastava
The exit of Bihar Chief Minister and JD(U) supremo Nitish Kumar from the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) some seven months ago has raised many questions about Indian politics. It has shattered the hope of the BJP to consolidate the upper caste and backward castes votes in Bihar. Its strategy to marginalise Nitish Kumar in Hindi heartland politics by giving him a bad name has not only boomeranged, but has also created of situation of existential crisis for the saffron party.
The modus operandi of Narendra Modi and his lieutenant Amit Shah to relegate Nitish clearly manifests that their think tank did not have broad conception of the prevailing political scenario and are alien to the ground level social and communal realities. They looked at the Bihar politics through the narrow prism of the Uttar Pradesh political scene. Their biggest mistake has been to break Nitish relation with the Muslims of the state. In Modi and Shah understanding, they were simply the vote bank.
No doubt the caste has always been the predominant factor in deciding the political discourse in the state, but unlike Uttar Pradesh, where caste factor is intertwined with religious hatred, in Bihar the caste configuration has socialist orientation. Here caste factor is used for the development and empowerment of the constituents of the caste components. With the intent to show him in bad light, experts and political commentators accuse him of having sudden realisation that the BJP is a communal party. The truth is otherwise. He from the beginning knew that BJP was a communal formation. But at the same time he was also aware that having very fragile support base, the party could be used to the advantage of the backward and EBC castes. It is worth recalling that with this in view he had created a new section of Mahadalits. For obvious reason it was perceived as an instrument to counter Ram Vilas Paswan.
A closer look at the political developments in Bihar would reveal that after Nitish severing his relation with the NDA, the BJP has turned aggressive and has been encouraging the upper caste Rajput and Bhumihar mercenaries to target the Yadavs , Koiris and Kurmis. Only on 6th of this month, the goons of Karani Sena attacked a village of the Yadavs and set fire to around 35 houses in Sidharia Tola locality of Mubarakpurin Saran district. They carried out this ghastly operation in retaliation to thrashing of three youths by the Yadavs of that village. It is alleged that three youths had fired upon Vijay Yadav, the husband of local Mukhiya Rupa Devi. The Yadavs tied them up, and beat them mercilessly in a poultry farm. One person, Amitesh Kumar Singh, died from the beating, while two others, Rahul Kumar Singh and Alok Kumar Singh, were seriously injured and hospitalised in Patna.
Next day around 500 bike borne Rajput youths surrounded the Yadav village and carried out the mayhem. They attacked homes, ransacked and set fire to huts and vehicles, and threatened members of the specific caste while shouting slogans. Local BJP MLA Neeraj Kumar Singh, a Rajput had accused the Nitish government pursuing caste politics.
Realising that this nature of politics of violence would boomerang, the BJP leadership launched their “operation Lotus” to pull down Nitish. At least two senior BJP leaders took active part in this game. Their mission was to engineer a split in the party. For this they chose Upendra Kushwaha, who for quite some time was blowing hot and cold against Nitish. His main grievance was Nitish ignored his claim of being inducted as the deputy CM. Instead Nitish offered the post to Tejashvi Yadav. Though Nitish has made him the chief of the Parliamentary Board, he continued to hurl jibes against Nitish.
Eventually two days back, he resigned from the party that is too at the remark of Nitish that if he wanted to resign he was welcome to give a shape to his plan. Throughout the game, the state BJP chief Sanjay Paswan was seen with Kushwaha. After resigning, he also announced the launch of a new political party, the Rashtriya Lok Janata Dal. Later he spoke out his mind; “When I merged my party RLSP (Rashtriya Lok Samta Party) in the JD-U, the initial period in the party was good. Nitish Kumar then announced to hand over his political legacy to (RJD leader) Tejashwi Yadav in 2025. I informed him that it would deeply hurt the JD-U. The party will be destroyed after Tejashwi Yadav becomes the Chief Minister of Bihar but he ignored my suggestion. I do not want the boat of JD-U to sink but Nitish Kumar has scuttled it”.
BJP has already launched a campaign against Tejashwi and has been striving hard to implicate his father, Lalu Yadav in fresh cases, used Kushwaha to target him and launch a public insinuation against him. Kushwaha is a story of political failures. He claims to be leader of Kushwahas, Kurmis, but has not succeeded in making the Kurmis rally behind him. He has been speaking the language of the BJP; “moves of Nitish Kumar will destroy his political legacy in Bihar”. Kushwaha claims that the “Lav-Kush” equation of the JD-U will be badly hit after this decision as they are arch-rivals of Yadavs in Bihar.
With Nitish adopting an aggressive posture against Narendra Modi and working diligently to forge the opposition unity, the BJP political ecosystem has turned completely hostile to him. It is a fact that Modi and Shah are more scared of him than any other opposition leader in the Hindi heartland. He is an astute politician. It is said that even his own right hand will not know what his left has been busy with. This shrewd politics of Nitish has created a spine chilling fear psychosis amongst the BJP leaders.
To create confusion in the minds of the JD(U) rank and file, a new campaign has been launched by the BJP. This time it appears that the command has been entrusted to senior leader Sushil Modi, who ironically does not have significant following. Even a major chunk of state BJP leaders do not listen to his directives and suggestions. Only on Wednesday Sushil Modi came out with the forecast that Upendra Kushwaha’s quitting the JD-U is not a normal incident and “this is the first revolt in JD-U and it will have far-reaching consequences. It has shown that the things are beyond control of weak Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.”
The BJP has also been trying to win over Mukesh Sahani, the Nishad leader. His party has four legislators. He was also one of the aspirants for the office of Dy CM. If the sources are to be relied the BJP top leaders have assured him of a respected rehabilitation.
Nonetheless unmoved of these machinations of the B JP, Nitish Kumar is going ahead in its crusade against BJP. This has also turned out to be a compulsion for his survival. His detractors are accusing him of reopening afresh a backdoor channel with the BJP. But this is fraught with his ultimate decapitation. BJP will not offer him the office of CM and finish him politically. Obviously it would be naive to subscribe to these rumours.
Nitish has started acting on a four pronged plan to put the BJP out of business. His focus is not just in his state, but also the country. He would intensify his attack on RSS and BJP. He has been seeking to know; “Who killed Bapu Gandhi? Have we forgotten? We have to create awareness in the new generation about the killers [of Gandhi].” Second, he has been striving to reach out to the people and seeking the feedback whether they have been benefitting from the welfare schemes. He uses this to reach out to the non-Yadav Extremely Backward Classes who account for about 28% of the state’s voters, as well as the Mahadalits. Third, both Nitish and his deputy have been working to provide jobs. The government sources maintain that alliance government has already given about 1.25 lakh jobs in four months.
What has irked Modi and Shah most is the Nitish government’s decision to launch the caste census. This has the potential of eliminating the B JP and cementing force among the OBCs, forging unity among them the way the Mandal Commission report did in the 1990s. (IPA Service)