By Arun Srivastava
RJD chief Lalu Prasad’s denial to enroll the left parties as the members of the Mahaagathbandhan and his refusal to accommodate their desire for a few seats has not come as a surprise. Though he used to give lip service to the down trodden, dalits and agricultural labourers, he was averse to helping the communists even while he ruled Bihar as its chief minister.
He would always castigate the left and particularly the naxalites. For him the CPI and CPI(M) had no existence. The reason is very obvious. Yadavs have antagonistic relations with the dalits and labourers. In late seventies Bihar witnessed a number of bloody clashes between dalits and yadavs. Massacres of dalits and poor labourers were also carried out by the Yadavs.
As chief minister he would never utter a word of solace for the dalits and labourers. Instead he would castigate them for resorting to arms action and provoking the landowners to retaliate against them.
A look at the past developments would reveal that his attitude towards the left has not changed. In the 2015 assembly elections he fought against the left parties. Incidentally at a time when the Lalu’s RJD in alliance with Nitish’s JD(U) had tried to communalise the electoral scenario against the BJP’s Hindu agenda, the CPI(ML) won three assembly seats. Usually left in recent times do fight in a large number of seats. They focus in their areas of activity. This should have helped Lalu to come to an understanding with the left in this election.
Unfortunately it did not happen. The general secretary of CPI Sudhakar Reddy revealed; “We had an understanding with Lalu Prasad Yadav, but he is in jail. So, I don’t know how things have been conveyed to his son. He had agreed for six seats including Begusarai and Madhubani”.
It is argued that the RJD was “underestimating the strength” of the Left parties in Bihar. This is not the fact. The primary reason was by supporting former JNUSU president, Kanhaiya Kumar, bhumihar by caste, Lalu did not intend to send confusing signal to his supporters and leaders. His main fight has been with Bhumihars.
The CPI(ML), the biggest Left party in Bihar, will be contesting one seat under the RJD’s quota. A CPI(ML) leader said “The one seat they have offered us is from the RJD quota of 20 seats. This framework is not in keeping with the need of the situation and the political ground reality of Bihar. It seems to have taken no lesson from the failure of the alliance experiment undertaken during the assembly election”.
IN the case of CPI(ML), the reason for accommodating them was their huge support base. THE RJD intends to use this base to its advantage. In fact in some districts of Bihar, CPI(ML) has strong base among in the poor Yadavs who will vote for them under any circumstance. RJD, has accommodated almost all Opposition forces except the CPI and the CPI(M) in the alliance.
In Begusarai, a stronghold of the CPI, the name of former JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar was circulating as the alliance’s candidate. Sharad Yadav’s Loktantrik Janata Dal will merge with the RJD ahead of the polls and he will contest as an RJD candidate, most likely from Madhepura.
Out of the 40 Lok Sabha seats, the Congress has got nine seats, the Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) of Upendra Kushwaha five seats, and the Vikasheel Insan Party (VIP) and former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi’s Hindustan Awam Morcha (HAM) three seats each.
Little doubt of these two VIP and HAM have no substantial support base. Doubts are expressed whether founder leaders will win at all. In case of RLSP has been more seats than it deserved. This attitude of Lalu has in fact raised doubts about his real intentions. He could have taken one seat from each of these parties and allotted to the left parties. RJD leaders believe that by placating the Kushwahas, Maha Dalits and the fishermen community in the State, it can capture majority of the seats from the ruling NDA.
A Left leader said that RJD’s decision not to give a ticket to CPI’s Kanhaiya Kumar was driven by the fear that the young leader will be a threat to Lalu’sson and Opposition leader in the Assembly, Tejaswi Yadav. He quipped Kumar is a far better orator and popular among the public. Lalu has all reasons to worry about grooming a young leader in the State.
CPI general secretary Sudhakar Reddy was absolutely correct in saying that the failure to accommodate Left parties will not bode well for the opposition in the bigger scheme of creating an anti-BJP front. Little doubt this move of Lalu has simply weakened the prospect of effective anti-BJP consolidation of votes in Bihar.
IN response to the RJD gesture of providing one seat to it, the CPI(ML) announced to support all the candidates of Mahagthbandhan in the state, but would field another three candidates. Obviously in the three constituencies the CPI(ML) will also fight the mahagathbandhan nominees. It has also decided to support the CPI from Begusarai and CPI(M) from Ujiarpur.
The decision was taken by the Left after Kanhaiya Kumar was left out of the alliance. He is the joint candidate of the Left parties from Begusarai. Kanhaiya Kumar was widely expected to be the opposition’s candidate from Begusarai. True enough denial of seat to Kanhaiya has come a shock to the left parties. They did not expect this nature of treatment from Lalu.
Notwithstanding the political gestures, Left parties of Bihar slammed the Mahagathbandhan for discarding them in the seat sharing formula saying the decision was not in sync with the ground realities in the state.
The state secretary of CPI(ML) Liberation Kunal, said “Had the Left been taken aboard, it would have added to the credibility of the challenge that the anti-BJP parties seek to pose to the NDA. It seems the Grand Alliance has not learnt its lessons from the betrayal of mandate”.