By Arun Srivastava
More than keeping his promise made to the RJD leaders and other alliance partners, it is the importance of Tejashwi Yadav in Bihar’s caste oriented politics that led Nitish Kumar to announce Tejashvi, his deputy in the alliance government, as his successor. The Bihar Mahagathbandhan will go to the 2025 assembly elections under the stewardship of Tejashvi, he said.
Some RJD leaders privy to the treaty that took place between Nitish and Tejashvi just ahead of Nitish snapping his alliance with the BJP and formally forging an alliance with the RJD and six other parties, including the CPI(ML), affirm that Nitish has at that time had agreed to relinquish the office of chief minister for Tejashvi.
It is alleged that Nitish had told the alliance partners about his desire to retire from active politics and open an ashram to provide training in politics and governance to aspiring and junior politicians. Usually politicians tend to make such crummy promises. But his announcement of December 12 carries more importance as it underlines change of caste and political equations in Bihar.
RJD sources also claim that he came out with this announcement as none else but the RJD supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav had laid this condition for JD(U)’s re-entry into the mahagathbandhan. In 2017 Nitish had abruptly deserted the RJD led Mahagathbandhan and joined hands with the BJP. At that time Nitish had cited corruption in the RJD as the prime reason for his walking out of the alliance with Lalu Yadav’s party. Nitish had even directed Tejashwi, who was his deputy, to step down and come back only after getting exonerated of the charges of corruption.
There is no denying the fact that Nitish of late has been suffering with political and administrative fatigue. He has nothing new to offer. With new political classes fast emerging in the state, Nitish believes it would be a tough proposition for keep everyone happy. These political groups do not present any class allegiance or character. They aspire to represent the interest of certain business houses and feudal elements. More over the emergence of a new type of agrarian mode of production and stake holders has also had transformed the basic contour of the politics.
Of course Nitish is blamed for providing space to the BJP in Bihar, the saffron brigade has succeeded in cultivating its own space during his stay in power in the state. The BJP is no more a pariah. Now the BJP is trying to evolve its own brand of politics. After the 2020 assembly election the BJP grabbed the prevailing scene to come to power. It had reluctantly accepted Nitish as the chief minister as without Nitish at the helm of the affair BJP could never aspire to have a deeper anchorage in the state.
Nitish a shrewd political player had come to comprehend the game BJP was playing. But he refrained from making noise. With the BJP gradually but systematically started evolving some new kind of caste equation which had the potential to dismantle the existing super structure of the caste politics made Nitish awry and forced him to have any link with the BJP. Nitish had come to realise that his experiment with Mandal politics has entered into a bind.
At the time of revival of Mahagathbandhan, the partners had expected that it would continue to pursue the OBC oriented politics. But the changing caste and class situation has forced, particularly the RJD to look for some alternate mechanism.
An insight into the functioning of Tejashvi would unravel that he is completely not walking into the footsteps of his father, Lalu Yadav. He had made a tactical shift. Though he is trying to project himself as the inheritor of Lalu Yadav’s M-Y and backward caste political legacy, he has not been averse to reaching out to other caste segments. He is suave and tech savvy. While he has been soft to the Scheduled Castes (SC), he has not been averse to courting upper caste people, especially the Bhumihars. Tejashvi’s emphasis has been; “This is the government of poor people in Bihar. We will work together to fulfill our promises. Since the new government has been formed, there are discussions about employment and development… We have people from all castes, including backwards, minorities and Dalits.”
There is a fine difference between Lalu’s politics and the politics being pursued by Tejashvi. In fact even Lalu has come to appreciate the political strategy of his younger son Tejashvi. He has been trying to provide a new orientation to the politics in conformity to the changing times and aspirations of the people. Though still today the land question is the supreme factor, the urban landscape has completely changed. Almost all the cities of Bihar have become the thriving centre for real estate business. Big and posh apartments have filled the space. The apartments in Patna are even costlier to the multiplexes coming in Delhi and other metros.
Who are the buyers? Where from money is pouring in the state? Though Bihar continues to be a comparatively state from the GDP index perspective, it utterly lacks modern infrastructure, the people have huge amount of cash in their possession.
Tejashwi as the chief minister would have to provide a new dimension to the economy of the state and also a completely new dynamics to the state politics. Bihar is the typical case of existence of feudalism along with crony capitalism and Junker capital. In this backdrop the observation of Nitish deserves a closer look; “We are doing a lot. And if there’s anything left to do in the future, then Tejashwi will keep working and will get it all done. Those who want to divide us, don’t try to create trouble at anyone’s bidding. We must stay united and work together. Tejashwi is here, I have done whatever I could to take him forward, I will take him even further ahead”.
Some experts feel that it is the growing impatience within the RJD over the fact that the party with 79 MLAs has to take order from Nitish having only 45 MLAs in the 243-member assembly. But this is not the reality. For quite some time Nitish has been promoting Tejashwi as his political heir as he has come to realise that the new political economic situation should have a new chief minister having a new vision which is in conformity to the changing scenario. Till some time back the political scene was dominated by the socialist and communist forces. But now the rightist forces are surging ahead. This is most threat to the Mandal politics.
Yet another challenge that Tejashvi would have to take head on is to protect Bihar from turning into a colony. The capitalist and market forces are out to exploit Bihar to the hilt. The young people having good qualification are lying in a state of trans as they lack a better future. Recent suicides by the students getting enrolled with the coaching centres in Kota is the manifestation of their despair. They are not sure even after spending lakhs of money on education, whether they would get good job. The educated unemployed youths are human bombs which may explode any time at any time. The task before Tejashvi would be to make available job avenues to these youths.
Once Tejashvi becomes the chief minister he would have prepared his own broad power base. He cannot survive on borrowed power base. This is a daunting challenge. Changing caste equations are emerging in Bihar as seen during the recently-concluded MLC elections for 24 seats where three of the upper caste candidates of the RJD won. Bhumihars who have so far been with BJP have started tacitly shifting towards RJD. The latest installation of a Bhumihar leader as the state chief of Congress is pointer to the change of caste equation. It is interesting to watch that the backwards castes and Bhumihars who have been traditional class enemies would be sharing power together under Tejashvi. He after the win of three candidates of Bhumihar caste in the MLC election, had said that the participation of every caste and communities is increasing in RJD. The RJD, after MY (Muslim-Yadav) equation, it is heading towards achieving BY (Bhumihar-Yadav) equation in Bihar. (IPA Service)