Against Authoritarianism: First JP, then Lalu and now Nitish

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Bihar considered to be one of the most backward states in India has never failed to show the political way out of allcrises Indian democracy encountered. When Indira Gandhi, amassed power by tampering with the Indian Constitution, It was Jayaprakash Narayan, the socialist leader who spearheaded the campaign, eventually bringing down the Iron Lady.

Then the reincarnated form of JanSangh–the BharatiyaJanata Party –the erstwhile ally of JP movement, unleashed communal terror when they brought out the Rathyatra to demolishthe thousand-year- old mosque in Ayodhya, it was Lalu Prasad Yadav, who stopped the Rath and arrested LK Advani.

Now when India is witnessing high levels of intolerance towards religious minorities and dissenting political views, it was left toNitish Kumar, the former disciple of JP and socialist ideologue Ram ManharLohia, to step up and halt the juggernaut of NarendraModi –AmitShah duo, which has made Indian democracy look so vulnerable. For tha,t he got all the help he could have expected from his former bête noire and Bihar veteran Lalu Prasadyadav.
Politics will not be same again for NarendraModi. After Delhi, he has lost another big election comprehensively. No Prime Minister has campaigned for any Assembly election, as NarendraModihas done in Bihar. He has addressed about 40 election rallies. Without projecting any regional leaders, the campaign of Modiand Shah had all the characteristics of centrally run political party, which BJP essentially is.

After gaining simple majority in the parliament election and with a person like NarendraModiat the helm, the RastriyaSwayamsevakSangh (RSS) were in much haste to implement their agenda, whichthe BJP were keeping close to their chest. The way in which the top leaders of the BJP, including cabinet members, started echoing the voices of organisations which the mainstream media termed as ‘fringe groups’, reflected the intention of the present dispensation.

After the Babri demolition, the BJP has never been so true to its ideology. The party leaders and senior ministers had no qualms in defending the acts of intolerance by the so-called fringe groups. They have been trying to alienate the minorities further under the garbof the cow slaughter issue.

The development politics– the euphemism used by the governments whenever they want to dole out freebies to corporates – propagated by the government and the pink dailies does not found resonance with the toiling masses. The ever increasing number of farmers’ suicides and the government’s apathy towards agrarian crisis accentuated the alienation of the masses from the Modi government. The ground reality of the Indian hinterland was ripe for an alternative narrative of Indian politics. And Bihar has done precisely that.

It was NarendraModi, perhaps out of his megalomaniac personality, turned this election as a NitishVsModi fight, hoping that getting rid of Nitish will enhance his hold over the party and government. During the last phase of the poll,Modi’sattempt to communallypolarise the electorate by stating that Nitishwill take away reservation meant for OBCs and SC/STs and give it to Muslims, speaks volumes about the intention of the NarendraModi and BJP . This coming from a party, which draws ideological lifeline from an organisation, which had made its attitude against reservation clear.

Now after a hard fought battle, Nitish emerges as potential leader who can cement disparate political parties which lies in the Centre-Left spectrum of Indian politics. India has witnessed several political groupings to fight the communalisation although they failed to put up a fight against the BJP or disintegrated themselves politically.

With the absence of a strong party at the Centre as opposition, what shape of the Grand Alliance at the centre will take, is important not only to keep the momentum of democratic resistance against an ideology of intolerance of the present government. More importantly, how Nitish manages with his big partner Lalu Yadav in Bihar, would also be of paramount importance for any new political groupings at the Centre.

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