WHY NITISH KUMAR SHOULD BE GIVEN BENEFIT OF DOUBT

Lalu Yadav’s Chanakya Nitish helped him emerge as Bihar’s tallest leader. He was instrumental in giving Lalu a makeover of a socialist leader. He helped Lalu become leader of the opposition in 1989 and stood behind him when he became chief minister in 1990. Like others, he, too, was a fan of Lalu’s fiery speeches and his deft ability of pull large crowds.

But how long can it last – the aura of socialism built around someone when power rapidly corrupts the person, something that happened with Lalu. Soon after Lalu rode to power, it became clear that it was indeed a government for nepotism and corruption run by one mighty family, the Yadavs of Bihar. So what if Lalu’s children were not grown-up then, there was no dearth of Lalu’s (and Rabri’s) relatives.

It might have led the socialist in Nitish Kumar, who has so far successfully kept his family away from meddling in politics, to pull away from Lalu. But even if Nitish left his ‘Bade Bhai (elder brother) Lalu in 1994, it was almost after a decade of political camaraderie.

Nitish then joined the BJP and the National Democratic Alliance, the coalition stitched by the BJP. He began his independent political career, away from Lalu Yadav, as union minister in Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s cabinet. He even had a brief stint as Bihar’s chief minister, his first term, for seven days, from March 3 to 10 in 2000. Even if Nitish had no numbers, in a controversial move, the Governor invited him to form the government but he had to quit as he failed to prove majority in the assembly. That certainly would have left Nitish with hurt pride and bitter feelings that later on reflected in his anti-Lalu politics, something that built his career.

He returned to state politics in 2005 and became chief minister of JDU-BJP led NDA coalition in November 2005. It was his second term and he did not look back since then. The alliance continued till 2013. His rise saw Lalu and his family being pushed to margins in Bihar’s politics. But like everyone errs, Nitish, too, faltered. He miscalculated his and his party’s prospects in the NDA by wrongly assessing that he could take on Narendra Modi. That didn’t happen and he split the JDU-BJP alliance in June 2013. But mind you, it was after 17 years.

After splitting with the BJP, Nitish didn’t join any other alliance. He needed few numbers to get majority that he easily got and he remained Bihar’s CM until the results of 2014 Lok Sabha in which Narendra Modi and the BJP routed his JDU. The Lok Sabha results, for the first time, clearly showed that for Nitish, it had become an ego issue. Though he stepped down, taking responsibility of the debacle, he kept the real power in his hands by installing a much weaker CM and before the assembly polls in 2015, assumed the chief-minister’s office again.

So, it was not basically an issue of principles and ethics. When he teamed up with Lalu to defeat the BJP, his bete noire, it became even more visible.

Nitish had been naturalized in the NDA with long years of association. But his ego forced him to enter into an unnatural alliance with Lalu, the anti-thesis of Nitish style of politics. So, it was doomed from the beginning. Lalu’s RJD emerging as the largest party only added to it as it was clear that Lalu wielded the real power by installing his inexperienced sons in plum power chairs.

So, all it needed was reconciliation. Nitish needed to reconcile with his inner self and needed to convince him that he was no match for Narendra Modi as his party JDU, limited to one state, was no match for the BJP, a pan-India party. The BJP spread post 2014 Lok Sabha elections, coupled with Lalu style of politics and corruption dominating Bihar again, would have helped Nitish.

Nitish was always comfortable in the NDA. His whole career in positions of power was in the NDA. He was a clear number two in RJD-JDU alliance and sooner and later he was going to make the decision. After he had reconciled, he needed an inflection point. Now there are many theories and conspiracy theories on what would have led Nitish to take the decision finally but the widening corruption net of Lalu family was a clear contender that would have pushed Nitish to take a call. And he listened to it. Now nothing is so straight in politics which is game of selfish permutations and combinations.

But Nitish should be given benefit of doubt because he only went back to where we was comfortable after an apparent reconciliation. And he cannot be termed an alliance hopper and U-turn man because in his long career, he has been in just two alliance only while, from north to south and from east to west, Indian politics is replete with party and alliance hoppers who have done it multiple times.

©SantoshChaubey

WHY NITISH KUMAR’S DECISION CAN BE A BLESSING IN DISGUISE FOR RAHUL GANDHI

Rahul Gandhi and Congress may term Nitish Kumar’s act of dumping the grand alliance government of RJD, JDU and Congress in Bihar to join the NDA and form a government with the BJP as betrayal, rank opportunism and treachery, but it may also be an opportunity for Rahul Gandhi to reinvent himself.

The political opposition in India has dearth of credible faces to take on the BJP, the NDA and Narendra Modi at the moment. Nitish Kumar was the strongest of all those contenders who could have provided a viable face against Narendra Modi in 2019 if the political opposition could pull an alliance.

Odisha’s chief minister Naveen Patnaik is another credible face with a clean image who can have acceptability but he is an outsider for national politics and is content with retaining his father Biju Patnaik’s citadel. And he has done well to hold on to the state. But he is certainly not a known Modi-baiter and certainly not a pan-India face to take on Modi in electoral politics.

The other anti-Modi face with a non-controversial image in the opposition camp is West Bengal’s chief minister Mamata Banerjee. But she is also in no position to offer a credible alternative to take on Modi on a pan-India level in electoral politics, at least in the context of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Also, as the BJP is trying to emerge as the principle opposition in West Bengal, sidelining the Left Front and the Congress, she cannot risk neglecting West Bengal for her national ambitions, at least for now.

We have seen what happened with the Aam Aadmi Party and Arvind Kejriwal. They tried to fan out too early after winning the people’s mandate in Delhi. Result! AAP created a sort of record with its candidates forfeiting their deposits in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. The humiliation outside Delhi continued in the recently concluded Punjab assembly polls. Like West Bengal is for Mamata Banarjee, Delhi is for Arvind Kejriwal. They cannot risk leaving the states before proving their mettle. And certainly it is not the time.

Remember, even Modi had spent almost 13 years as Gujarat chief minister, consolidating his position, before fanning out of Gujarat. The time was opportune for him in 2014 when the country was looking for an alternative political face and he could make the public believe, based on his credentials of serving Gujarat four times that he was indeed the one who could be the answer to the huge anti-incumbency of ten years of the Congress rule under the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government led by Manmohan Singh.

The health of any nation’s democracy needs at least two credible political faces who can compete nationally. The more the merrier. The political opposition space in India is looking for someone who can take on Narendra Modi for the upcoming 2019 Lok Sabha polls and Nitish Kumar was the most probable contender.

But as Nitish Kumar has been effectively co-opted by the BJP again, that option is gone, and along with it the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Now only a miracle can save the day for them as hardly a year is left before going full throttle on the campaign spree for the next parliamentary election and we know miracles don’t happen in politics. Every step is a calculated move in this game of possibilities where there are no permanent friends or foes and Nitish Kumar has again showed us this.

Now the political opposition needs to look beyond 2019 to take on Narendra Modi and the BJP. And most importantly a face who can stand against Narendra Modi in elections beyond 2019. The BJP, in fact, has become the only national political party with its governments in every corner of the country. With Bihar again in its kitty, the BJP and its allies have now governments in 18 Indian states while Congress is at a historic low and is seeing further decline. And the central reason behind this is the perceived absence of leadership in the party.

CAN RAHUL GANDHI REINVENT HIMSELF?

Though Sonia Gandhi is still the Congress’ president, its Rahul Gandhi, the vice-president, who is the de facto head of the party. But willingly or unwillingly, an image of being a reluctant and non-serious politician has overtaken his political identity. Add to it the spate of electoral losses in states and the huge setback in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and we come across a perception that Rahul Gandhi is neither inclined nor able to shoulder the responsibility.

That he needs to break. He needs to reinvent himself because he has the means to emerge as the pan-India alternative of Narendra Modi.

To represent India in national politics, one either needs a long and influential political career, be it at state level like Narendra Modi has had or at national level like PV Narasimha Rao had or it has to be a dynastic lineage of a political party with a pan-India presence.

The Nehru-Gandhi family has had this advantage, be it Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi earlier and Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi now. It is true that Indira Gandhi did build her political career for many years, including participating in the Indian freedom struggle, but she was a union minister for just two years before she became prime minister in 1966. Rajiv Gandhi was also a sort of reluctant politician before he was made prime minister after Indira Gandhi’s assassination. But once in the office, he did try to evolve. Sonia Gandhi was accepted because she belonged to the family and same holds true for Rahul as well.

Though the Congress has shrunk to just five states and one union territory with only two electorally significant states, i.e., Karnataka and Punjab, in fold and could win just 44 Lok Sabha seats in the 2014 General Elections, it is still the only other national political party than the BJP with a pan-India presence with 19 per cent vote share in the 2014 elections. The party is still the principle opposition in many states including Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Telangana, Odisha, Haryana, Uttarakhand and Goa. That is still a great leverage over other anti-BJP political parties.

And as the big three, Nitish Kumar, Mamata Banerjee and Naveen Patnaik, are effectively ruled out as the anti-BJP face of the political opposition, who could have mobilized the whole anti-BJP opposition to form a credible alternative this is an opportunity for Rahul to chip in and claim the place that he enjoys with his Nehru-Gandhi lineage. What also helps his prospects is the fact that other non-Congress regional satraps like Mayawati, Akhilesh Yadav, K Chandrasekhar Rao and MK Stalin are limited to their states only with no electoral appeal outside.

Rahul began his active political career around 2008 and since the very beginning he has been the most important voice in the Congress, even if Manmohan Singh was the prime minister and he has worked hard and has campaigned hard in every part of the country in every election. True the Congress is looking like a crumbling bloc these days but Rahul’s failures so far tell us he may be lacking in focus in leading the party out of the mess. The opposition in India is in disarray. Its politics looks flabbergasted. It needs someone who can give it some direction. Can Rahul Gandhi realize the opportunity at hand?

©SantoshChaubey

WELL, NOTHING LIKE REALITY CHECK HERE..

Well, I am again taking liberty from my self-made principles when it comes to writing – by using a tweet – from sources that usually don’t make for informed news elements. Social media feeds make for some great news stuff – but then one needs to be cautious about what to use, when to use and where to use.

This tweet from the media advisor of the Aam Aadmi Party’s numero-uno and Delhi’s chief minister Arvind Kejriwal tells how far the party of ‘freelance activists and full time politicians’ has moved from its stated ideals (and principles) when it had announced (or we can say now, going by the precedent based on the political trajectory of the AAP so far, it had boasted to mislead people) to enter politics – to clean it up – to make it truly common man centric – to run it as peoples’ mission.

We all know that is passé now, buried into the latest episode of the political history of India – a history where friends and foes are picked up or rejected based on their political tenability. There are numerous developments to talk about this sad demise of peoples’ hope to experiment with their political hopes. And this ‘expressivity’ by the media advisor of Arvind Kejriwal was just in line. Yesterday, he tweeted an article written on Scroll.com, a good website with basically good write-ups.

Nagendar Sharma ‏@sharmanagendar Aug 27
Reality check: Why it is too convenient to label Lalu Prasad’s reign as ‘jungle raj’ http://scroll.in/article/750963/reality-check-why-it-is-too-convenient-to-label-lalu-prasads-reign-as-jungle-raj … via @scroll_in

It was on a day when his boss was in Bihar, sharing various stages with Nitish Kumar. Nitish Kumar is Bihar’s chief minister and is taking on the BJP led National Democratic Alliance in the upcoming Bihar assembly polls slated to be held during October-November.

The BJP was the long-time partner of Nitish’s Janata Dal (United) until Nitish’s prime-ministerial ambitions led his take a different path, breaking the alliance.

Political analysts say Nitish has chance to win over Bihar again, irrespective of his party’s humiliating performance during the Lok Sabha polls last year as he is credited to lead Bihar to a path that started a process to undo the ‘bad elements’ percolated everywhere during 15 years of Lalu Yadav-Rabri Devi rule – but what is going against him – is – his alliance with that Lalu Yadav and his Rashtriya Janata Dal – and it could be acidic enough to corrode his winning chances.

And Arvind Kejriwal is extending his ‘moral’ and political support to this alliance. So, obviously, a propagandist party like the AAP would exploit all tools available to justify its acts – like it has done so far – without caring for public sentiments during this round of governance – trying to make Kejriwal larger than life in Delhi’s political circles with ‘grandiose and boastful ’ advertising campaigns.

The article is good in presenting premises but ends up making a premise – a central one – that the written political history of India has been unjust with and biased towards Lalu Prasad – a premise that can be said unilateral and biased. Bihar was ruined during Lalu days of governance – and the malaise was widespread, irrespective of class and caste – and Lalu’s humiliating political catharsis in Bihar’s electoral politics is a living example.

The AAP’s mouth organs speak in unilateral voice and see in a straight direction – as every political party does. This tweet and every other communication element is just doing the same – like this media advisor had adopted a practiced (and expected) silence on a question related to Swati Maliwal’s appointment as the chief of Delhi Commission of Women.

Now, as the goings say, this seems to the AAP’s real political character – like any other political party of India.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

BIHAR POLLS: THE WATCHABLE ELEMENTS

1. Everyone is saying Bihar polls are again going to be caste-based and the outcome will be caste-driven. But is the growing middle class going to play a different tune – away from the caste asthmatics – to assert a new identity that may be amorphous in nature sociologically but craves for everything that revolves around development that could better their lives?

2. Nitish Kumar promoted the concept of ‘Bihari Ashmita’ or Bihari Identity/Bihari Pride like Narendra Modi did with Gujarati Pride and Identity. But after aligning with Lalu Prasad Yadav, is Lalu’s corruption taint going to make the class, conscious about Bihari Ashmita, apathetic to Nitish Kumar?

3. Who will emerge out the real claimant of ‘Bihar Ashmita’ if it happens to be a major factor in the polls – Nitish Kumar for representing the Bihar government during last 10 years (barring Jitan Ram Manjhi), the time during which Bihar has certainly been able to come out of the administrative apathy synonymous with the Lalu-Rabri rule of 15 years – or the BJP which was an equal party with the Janata Dal (United) in governing Bihar for eight years?

4. Based on poll outcome – if the counting day falls any time around Chhath, that is on November 17, would it affect the decision of Biharis to stretch their visit a bit longer? Also, Diwali is on November 11, and if the last phase, if the Bihar polls are to be a multi-phased one, falls near Diwali, will the Bihari voters make it a point to include the last phase in their extended Diwali and Chhath holidays?

5. Regular diaspora case studies – people living outside Bihar – in different states – even outside India – how they see these polls, especially after Nitish has parted ways with the BJP and is going along with his sworn enemy Lalu Prasad Yadav, who is a convicted person now?

6. Flavour of the poll season – the familiar musclemen in the poll fray – directly or through their wives (or kin) – the possible names doing rounds – the names that could be announced to represent different political outfits – and it will be across the party lines.

7. Important to see how the Yadav votes behave after Lalu Prasad (Yadav) led RJD vehemently pushed for Anant Singh’s arrest, a muscleman and an influential Bhuimhar MLA.

8. Extending that ‘Yadav voting trend’ – it is important to be seen how the Bhumihar voters vote? Bhumihars may be less in number but they are the biggest land owners there. It is important to see if they see Anant Singh and similar episodes as humiliating enough and work to defeat Nitish Kumar, an OBC leader.

9. Emergence of Jitan Ram Manjhi and its impact on Dalit and Mahadalit votes and the pre-poll and thus post-poll political equations accordingly – Jitan Ram Manjhi’s chief-ministerial ambitions and the subsequent seat sharing talks with the National Democratic Alliance.

10. And the usual, most talked about factors – caste and religion – how would they behave – anti-BJP and NDA block would try to corner Muslim votes and a secular alliance of Congress-JD(U)-RJD expects to perform well here. The real fight would for Dalit and Mahadalit votes after Jitan Ram Manjhi has emerged as an important claimant. Also, Nitish Kumar cannot solely claim the OBC votebank constituency as Narendra Modi is also an OBC leader who exploited well this factor in the Lok Sabha election campaign.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

TODAY’S COMING TOGETHER OF JANATA PARIVAR HAS TO BE SEEN IN THIS CONTEXT..

It is a ‘parivar’ where family members want to maintain their own homes, their own signs and their own identities. And while wanting to do so, the resourceful of them want to impose what they are, on others, expecting that others would follow the suit.

Unlike a family, they are still together, waiting for the signs to emerge that who can claim the stewardship, who can push for the symbol and who can draw the identity mileage.

That is the story of ‘Janata Parivar’, a group of six political outfits – Samajwadi Party (SP), Janata Dal-United (JDU), Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Om Prakash Chautala’s Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), H. D. Devegowda’s Janata Del-Secular (JDS) and Samajwadi Janata Party (SJP), the party of former prime minister Chandashekhar – that trace their origin the once relevant Janata Dal (JD).

The three most important parties of this ‘Parivar’ are from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the two Hindi heartland states with huge populations and therefore powerful legislative equation at state level and in Parliament.

UP has the SP government where elections are due in early 2017 and Akhilesh Yadav’s government will be facing huge anti-incumbency. JDS is limited only to Karnataka, INLD to Haryana. SJP is just in records. It doesn’t exist politically. Bihar has the JDU government. Elections are due in the state in few months and JDU is finding it difficult to fight to retain the chief-minister’s chair in spite of the development claims by its Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. The RJD, that has ruled the state for many year, is fighting the survival battle after court-conviction of Lalu Prasad Yadav. Except the JD(U), all these parties are family businesses, run like that only.

And all these parties are facing threat of being pushed out of power or being made irrelevant by the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP). The BJP’s clear mandate in Lok Sabha elections, its sweeping performance in UP and Bihar and its impressive victories in states like Haryana, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, among others, created a challenge before the political spectrum to handle what was facing them.

Political parties including Congress are answering it with their own devised methods. These parties opted to merge under the banner of the JD to present a formidable front that was strong enough to take on the BJP, even if they had taken separate routes to promote personal egos and personal interests.

Lalu and Nitish have been long-time rivals in Bihar and the RJD’s ‘jungleraj’ used to be main campaigning plank of Nitish Kumar and the BJP. That was until the BJP was in alliance with the JDU. Now, Lalu and Nitish are together, and are the main targets of the BJP.

Well, we never expected Indian politics to play out ethical games. Every outfit is engaged in taking pragmatic moves to further political interests, including political survival.

Today’s announcement by the ‘Janata Parivar’ of ‘contesting Bihar polls together’ is an extension of those efforts.

We heard a long ago that these six outfits, having their origin in the JD, would merge and form a new party. As expected, nothing has moved on this front. There are issues like ‘name and symbol’ of the new outfit. Obviously, the party with strongest electoral presence will leverage the position better. Outcome of the Bihar polls will be a logical way to assess that. If Nitish makes a comeback, the decision will shift to the UP polls (as expected). If the JDU doesn’t perform well in these polls, the SP may gain the upper hand.

So, it’s a wait and watch game – for them, for other political folks..and for us.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

NITISH KUMAR ‘MAKES’ A COMEBACK

The stage was set for the final showdown on February 20, but then one of the principal protagonists suddenly left the arena, giving walk over to his opponent.

And the opponent, the three-term chief minister of Bihar, was inaugurated for the fourth term today.

Nitish Kumar is the chief minister of Bihar again. And as he says – that his predecessor, Jitan Ram Manjhi, who was handpicked by him last May, had derailed the state from the path of progress – he has some eight months, as the current Bihar assembly is completing its term on November 29, 2015,
to bring the state back to the growth trajectory that he claims he had achieved for the state.

Nitish has been apologising for leaving the office of Bihar’s chief minister last year and letting Bihar on a negative growth spiral and his ‘Kejriwal act’ is being much talked about and discussed.

Probably, after seeing the brilliant success of Kejriwal’s apology act, Nitish thought he could do the same to deflect questions on his last year rhetoric that he would not come back to the office unless he gets a fresh mandate from Bihar’s voters.

Another pretext that he is speaking about is Manjhi’s misrule. Nitish says he was forced to come back as people were disappointed and angry with governance of the day in Bihar.

Now that he is back, he has to come out with 100% on his performance amid intense media and opposition scrutiny that would run along with a union government headed by his bitter political rival Narendra Modi.

While the good will go in mitigating the ‘bad’ of his ’emotional decision’ last year, any bad will have amplified repercussions on his chances to score positively.

Can Nitish deliver when he has just eight months, given the fact that he was ‘forced’ to come back as Manjhi had brought bad days back?

The ‘bad days’ that he is also responsible for as bringing in Manjhi was his unilateral decision.

Now, the BJP may not ask this question to milk the better prospect of wooing the Mahadalit voters in the name of ‘Nitish insulting a Mahadalit leader and chief minister’, the young and educated voter would certainly think about it.

Also, the realpolitik of the day is different. The good governance days of Bihar under Nitish Kumar were from a coalition government with the BJP as an equal partner. It was in fact widely analysed that the BJP ministers were better performers.

Now Nitish is dependent on Lalu Yadav and his Rashtriya Janata Dal. Lalu is convicted in the fodder scam and is barred from contesting polls. The Bihar of his days, either under him or his wife’s rule, was seen as a failed state, a state where development politics had become a ‘forbidden political paradigm’.

Nitish changed that. He rode to the power promising development and delivered. But all this while, he was with the BJP.

Now as he is with Lalu Yadav and Bihar is heading for polls in few months, his political rivals will ask this question day and night. Now, only time will tell (and polls will tell) how effectively Nitish will be able to counter this question.

Nitish-Modi rivalry to surge: Though Narendra Modi tweeted to congratulate Nitish Kumar after his swearing-in ceremony and Nitish Kumar said the differences he had with Modi were ideological in nature and there was nothing personal, the history of Nitish-Modi rivalry says another episode is in making with the upcoming assembly polls in Bihar.

And we saw its first signs today when, after taking oath, Nitish told everyone that the mandate of 2010 was in his name only.

Now, Bihar is a make or break electoral proposition for both, the BJP and the JD(U).

After the humiliating loss in Delhi, the BJP must win Bihar to bounce back in the race of becoming a major political force and that cannot happen without having a winning or a major presence in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the two state that count for 120 Lok Sabha seats and 37 Rajya Sabha members.

For Nitish, who had tied his political future with Modi’s political prospects, he is already on the back foot, retracting on his ‘quit rhetoric’ of last year.

With Modi having the advantage of the general elections win, a loss to Modi in Bihar polls would throw Nitish on the political periphery of Bihar and he would find in the similar situation Lalu Yadav is in.

Both, Modi and Nitish have their ‘make or break’ reasons to take on each other in the Bihar polls and each of them will try all to outdo the other.

And for Jitan Ram Manjhi, the chief minister till February 21, he was always a non-entity in Bihar’s politics before his sudden elevation. But his acts soon made it clear that Nitish had miscalculated in reading him. The ‘perceived yes man’ soon started spreading out, undoing moves by Nitish Kumar, transferring officials, installing his family members and making overtures to reach out to others including the BJP. It was soon going to be ‘enough is enough’ for Nitish Kumar to digest any further. His ‘yes man’ was working to dig his master’s grounds and the master was feeling increasingly unsettled. And it was just a matter of days.

Now, how much relevant Manjhi is going to remain will be gauged by the outcome of the polls only.

Though the BJP was seen in a tight spot on its decision to support Manjhi in the trust vote, that it could take only a day before, on February 19, after Manjhi’s equally sudden demotion on February 20, the day of the floor test when Manjhi resigned to flunk the test, the party breathed easy.

Supporting Manjhi had the inherent risk of alienating many caste blocks in the caste-ridden politics of Bihar. Also, going with someone like Manjhi, who is perceived as an inefficient leader with a trail of corruption and nepotism to talk about, could have alienated the young and the educated voters from the middle class.

Now, with the relief from Manjhi’s volte-face, the BJP, in fact, can expect to gain some good political mileage. With the Lok Janshakti Party and Ram Vilas Paswan, the BJP is already in comfortable position on Dalit votes with Paswans forming some 31% of Bihar’s Dalits.

Now, through Manjhi, the BJP would try to alienate another chunk of the Dalit voters away from Nitish Kumar. And Manjhi as a humiliated Dalit leader leading a front against Nitish Kumar would be a perfect beginning.

Bihar is heading for interesting, colourful political events in the run-up to the assembly polls.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey–https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

BIHAR: THE STAGE IS SET FOR TOMORROW

The stage is set for Friday.

The BJP has finally opened up on its stand and is going to support Jitan Ram Manjhi in the floor test tomorrow, though dilly-dallying on the issue has put BJP in a tight spot, irrespective of what the party strategists feel.

The effective strength in the 243 member Bihar assembly is 233 with 10 vacant seats that include eight MLAs barred from voting by the Patna High Court. Manjhi needs support of 117 MLAs to sail through. But, going by the reports (and not by his claims that he has the number), Manjhi’s count is not going beyond 104, 87 of the BJP, 12 of the JD(U) and 5 others. Nitish, on the other hand is claiming support of 130 MLAs, including the RJD, Congress and others.

Politics of ‘no friends or foes’ has no room for ethical practices. The one in position to squeeze in the maximum ground, even if by adopting unethical practices, goes about doing so openly.

And it is on open display again and Bihar is theatre this time.

So, Manjhi, the chief minister of Bihar, who was installed by Nitish Kumar post the Lok Sabha polls, is taking on Nitish Kumar to keep him from coming back. He is making tall promises, unabashedly populist and burdening to the state exchequer, to lure voters. He is making open offers to MLAs to make them ministers. He is openly attacking Nitish Kumar.

And so, Nitish Kumar, the Janata Dal (United) leader and the former chief minister, who resigned after taking moral responsibility of party’s humiliating loss in the Lok Sabha polls, got comfortably the post of the ‘Leader of Opposition’ for his party today with the Bihar assembly Speaker being from his party, on his side.

Before it, Nitish had another political realization that Jitanram Manjhi, a leader with a controversial past, corruption and misappropriation taints and allegations and having no mass base out of his constituency, was doing irreversible damage to the state of Bihar. The realization dawned upon Nitish within only nine months of meticulously choosing Manjhi to run the state. Also, within nine months only, Nitish had a rethink of his ethical call to vacate the office as he tried to barge in the chief-ministerial office after Manjhi refused to accept his ‘marching orders’. But Nitish’s inner call was aborted mid-way by the High Court paving the way for the floor test.

And so, the Bhartiya Janata Party, the long-term partner of the JD(U) which took separate ways before the Lok Sabha polls after Nitish didn’t accept Narendra Modi’s projection as the prime-ministerial nominee of the National Democratic Alliance, courted Manjhi and propped up avenues and support for him to take on Nitish and the JD(U).

It can be said what could have been a smooth comeback for Nitish after the ‘rethink realization’ to lead his party in the assembly polls due in the last months of this year, has been made a political spectacle that has had the whole country glued.

So, we have Manjhi claiming and luring Mahadalits asking them to practice Gandhigiri come what may. He is making desperate pleas, statements and propositions to remain politically relevant. He has been camping in Delhi and Patna to request BJP to come to his aid.

We have Nitish Kumar serving ultimatum to the Bihar Governor and taking his MLAs to New Delhi to parade them before President Pranab Mukherjee. His spokespersons are on duty round the clock to take on Manjhi and BJP. He first claimed chief minster’s chair but after the High Court intervention, settled with the LoP one, hoping to corner tomorrow what he has been eyeing.

We have BJP that has muddled the Nitish’s comeback plan. The party that crafted and enjoyed the internal ramblings in the JD(U) was consistently in verbal war with the later. And is now crying hoarse and taking the legal route to reclaim its LoP position.

Another colour in all this is an MP from the Rashtriya Janata Dal, an ally of Nitish Kumar, who has taken a hostile line against the JD(U). He is supporting Manjhi not only vocally, but is also active in trying bringing in MLAs to his camp.

Interestingly, we have not heard much of Lalu Yadav all through this.

The clarity on what colour of this political kaleidoscope will prevail will emerge tomorrow.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey–https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

THOUGHTS AFTER ‘PROPOSED’ DISPLAY OF BONHOMIE TO REVIVE JANATA DAL (1)

THE QUESTIONS

FIRST THOUGHTS ON ‘PROPOSED’ BONHOMIE TO REVIVE JANATA DAL
https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/2014/12/04/first-thoughts-on-proposed-bonhomie-to-revive-janata-dal/

1. Why the name Samajwadi Janata Dal? Only to placate the parties involved (Samajwadi Party, Janata Dal United, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Janata Dal Secular, Indian National Lok Dal, Samajwadi Janata Party)!

2. Why not Janata Dal? Are the technical issues involved, if any, so nagging?  After all, irrespective of it’s political fate so far, the name is well entrenched in the Indian psyche.

3. Nitish Kumar quoted ‘ideology’ behind the unification move. If Janata Dal, formed in 1988, indeed had any ideology and if that ideology is the reason behind this latest effort, would it not be logical to come under the political symbolism of the name Janata Dal?

4. A new name, trying to get its validity from a so-called old ideology, and trying to justify the move with it – doesn’t it justify that the Janata Dal formed by V. P. Singh in October 1988 – with people from parties of different ideologies and purposes (including V . P. Singh himself) – had no ideology of it’s own and was an opportunist coming together of people to score on political front?

5. Moving on from the name, even if we go by the logic of ‘in the name of ideology’, how can it keep the parties together when it miserably failed in its original avatar?

6. Will the ‘warring’ factions (parties) of the Janata Parivar be able to put aside their differences (even if counting in the upcoming wedding of Mulayam’s nephew with Lalu’s daughter) given the fact that history of Janata Dal is replete with split after split, beginning in 1990, within two years of it’s formation, with as recent as in 2010?

7. What is the difference this time that can work in its favour?

8. Isn’t it a desperate call to survive in the Narendra Modi era of politics, that, after winning the Lok Sabha and assembly polls comprehensively, is looking poised to win Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, the two states run by the ‘big daddy’ constituents of the old Janata Dal with a new name now, if at all an officially unified entity is born with its own election symbol?

9. Going with the political reality of the day, the state oriented element looks logical. But on projecting nationally, the bonhomie looks firmly fragile with three big prime-ministerial ambitions – Mulayam Singh Yadav, Nitish Kumar and Lalu Yadav (even if he is legally forced out of active politics at the moment – yes, the daughter factor may lead him to side with Mulayam in case he is not in the race). Shouldn’t we look at the window that shows the relevance and the future of the formation in context of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar assembly polls only?

10. With just 15 Lok Sabha and 30 Rajya Sabha MPs and presence in just four states, will they be able to project the identity of the ‘unified’ or the ‘new entity’ nationally?

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

FIRST THOUGHTS ON ‘PROPOSED’ BONHOMIE TO REVIVE JANATA DAL

THE QUESTIONS

1. Janata Dal to be revived again – a desperate call to survive or a craving to fill the void of the ideological vacuum that the numerous divisions of the party caused or a well thought political bonhomie to capitalize on the political currency of the different parties under one umbrella?

2. If a desperate call to survive in the Narendra Modi era of Indian politics, will the ‘warring’ factions of the Janata Parivar be able to put aside their differences and clash of egos, as evident so far while going by the political history of Janata Dal?

3. Would the name Janata Dal be sanctified again or would we see extended deliberations over it?

4. If intended so, if at all, how would the exercise be given an ideological makeover?

5. Before the name (or even after it), would naming the leader of the unified parties be the main contention?

6. Who would be the big daddy of all – Uttar Pradesh and Bihar? Samajwadi Party with its government in Uttar Pradesh and Janata Dal (United) with its government in Bihar are equally poised to call the shots.

7. Shouldn’t we expect a name right now as the prime-ministerial ambitions have no space to raise heads at the moment? Parliamentary elections are over four years away and BJP is on a strong pitch with complete numbers on its own.

8. What would be the immediate goal of this unified entity or the revived Janata Dal?

9. Who will be the convenor or the coordinator to manage the personalities like Mulayam Singh Yadav, Lalu Yadav and Nitish Kumar, the three names with ‘strong’ prime-ministerial ambitions or H. D. Deve Gowda, a former prime minister?

10. Would this ‘revived Janata Dal’ see further revival with more factions (or parties or people) of the erstwhile Janata Dal coming to join it?

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/