Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has big political plans in mind as he sets his sights on the 2019 parliamentary elections. This is evident from his moves, as he has started consolidating his support base in Uttar Pradesh, that holds the key to power in India. His plan for the 2017 Assembly elections is not just to target other backward classes (OBC) but to woo those Dalit castes also who could not join the mainstream and are still deprived of the light of development and equality.
The CM’s gameplan became obvious when on July 26, he participated in a rally organised by rebel BSP leader and one of its founders RK Chaudhary. Chaudhary recently jolted BSP supremo Mayawati by suddenly parting ways with the party, accusing her of no longer standing for the ideals of Dr Ambedkar – or even her mentor Kanshi Ram, who formed the party with the object of social transformation to uplift Dalit communities.
Responding to speculation about an alliance of JD(U) with smaller parties, Nitish Kumar said, “We are in favour of creating an organisation which, instead of working for itself, will work for the people.”
Addressing a rally incidentally to mark the anniversary of Dalit icon Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj at the Bijli Pasi Qila, Nitish said his government in Bihar has championed the cause of Dalits by implementing a quota within quota for MahaDalits. “At present, Dalit are deprived of their rights in the judiciary and many other sectors. A lot of work still needs to be done to bring social equality,” he remarked, pledging his resolve to fight for justice for them. He favoured reservation for Scheduled Castes in higher judiciary. Paying tributes to Dalit icon Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj, the Maratha ruler of Kolhapur, Kumar also urged the people to practice his ideals. He always espoused the cause of education for the downtrodden and the marginalised sections of society and helped Dr Ambedkar to access education.
Showcasing his successful model of governance, Nitish claimed, “Bihar was the first state in the country to give 50 percent reservation to women in panchayat and urban
local-bodies polls. The best impact was that more than 50 percent winners were women,” the CM said. He said that those from the weaker sections — be they lawyers, officers or teachers — must come forward to offer a helping hand to their weaker brothers and sisters. “We must be determined to continue our efforts till the last man on the fringes gets his due,” he appealed.
Stressing the need for a liquor ban in Uttar Pradesh, he advocated that young chief minister Akhilesh Yadav follow the values of his socialist ideologues – Dr Ram Manohar Lohia, Jai Prakash Narain, Bhim Rao Ambedkar, Sant Ravidas and Sant Kabir — and impose a complete ban on liquor. This, he said, would fulfill a constitutional mandate which is envisaged therein, providing for imposing a ban on intoxicants.
Questioning the morality behind the collection of state revenues that destroy the social fabric and family harmony in a society, Bihar Chief Minister expressed his deep anguish and said, “Liquor has ruined many homes of Bahujan in Bihar. Initially, people were cynical of the ban on the sale of liquor. But, now even the men are praising the efforts of the Bihar government.”
Highlighting the impact of other policies that aim to bring peace and social harmony he said, “Earlier a drunken husband used to be cruel to his wife. However, after the ban, the perception about such men has changed from cruel to nice. It is just a humble beginning of social transformation.”
Nitish Kumar’s strategy seems to be to attack the two big parties of UP led by Mayawati and Mulayam Singh Yadav without naming them. For instance, he said that merely taking birth in Dalit family does not entitle someone to become a leader. Repeated chanting of the word ‘bahujan, bahujan’, someone cannot make someone a ‘messiah’.
“For this, the actual pain of bahujan and the deprived people has to be personally experienced at ground level. Bringing justice for them involves a prolonged struggle,” he commented.
Accusing the Samajwadi Party of deviating from the real ideals of socialist ideologue Dr Ram Manohar Lohia, he said, while they chant Lohia’s name to garner votes, they never follow his principles. Women are not safe in Uttar Pradesh and the Akhilesh Yadav government had failed to safeguard their honour. He also accused the district administration of trying to prevent him from reaching the rally site at the behest of the state government.The JD(U) leader was earlier held up at a guesthouse for more than four hours as the district administration denied him permission to address the rally.
BSP rebel RK Chaudhary accused BSP supremo Mayawati of ruining the party culture.”Party founder Kanshi Ram had once said, Mayawati was obsessed with collecting money. The self-proclaimed heir of Kanshi Ram, Mayawati ignored the dedicated BSP cadre and started auctioning tickets. She is running the party like a real estate company, which has led to resentment within the party,” he alleged.
While JD(U) leaders flex their muscles in Uttar Pradesh, alliance partner Rashtriya Janta Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav has announced that his party will not contest in UP to strengthen the hands of secular forces. Reading between the lines, it becomes clear that Lalu Yadav has decided not to fight the Samajwadi Party after becoming a close relative of Mulayam Singh Yadav. His daughter has married into Mulayam Singh Yadav’s family and that is why he is not in a mood to repeat a Bihar-like alliance in Uttar Pradesh.
BSP chief Mayawati is busy handling upsets in her party as a number of leaders and members of Assembly are deserting the party, accusing her of seeking huge bribes for grant of party tickets to contest the forthcoming elections. Loyalist and leader of opposition Swami Prasad Mourya snapped ties with her, citing corruption.