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Democracy that makes heroes out of villains
There is nothing surprising in the results of Bihar state assembly elections or the by-elections in the few other states. All te pre-poll surveys in Bihar released three days ahead of the first polling date of October 25 had predicted a fourth term for Nitish Kumar. And it was only with the exit poll after the three phases of the polling, speculations started about an unexpected surge by Thejaswi of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD). This forecast was probably prompted by the virulent campaign of Thejaswi Yadav focussing on the failure of the weak and gerontocratic leadership of Nitish Kumar as a total failure in addressing the state's acute unemployment despite being in office for three terms. The youthful Thajashwi criss-crossed the state addressing over 200 rallies and made such a tide that it spured the inference about the the wave reaching the polling both. And the advance Thejashwi made put on pinpricks the sangh parivar-led NDA till the last minute, and also proved that such forecasts were not entirely out of place.

However, the poll outcome demonstrates that the invincibility of the BJP which it won by putting the face of Narendra Modi through last year's Lok Sabha elections, is still holding out despite its total neglect of the grassroots issues faced by the country. The note ban and the GST muddle debilitated the overall national economy, and seriously caused suffering for the majority of the country and upset lives of farmers and wage earners. But through political sleight of hand, by whipping up hyper-nationalist frenzy and creating the impression of a tall leader at the helm, the sangh parivar succeeded in turning the tables in favour of its fascist line. And the same matrix of sentiments rules the air, even after the regime failing miserably in managing the Covid pandemic and before the country came out of the disasters of the ill-planned lockdown that put millions helpless on the streets. Hence the picture, even before the end of such travails, of the continuation of that demagoguery still holding out at the hustings. In the midst of all this, the BJP – the actual villain of the piece in these man-made woes of the country – stands out unscathed, even as a hero. The ruling party at the centre which won 20 per cent of the votes and 74 seats in Bihar, is holding the foremast of the ship of the ruling front. In Madhya Pradesh, the party won 19 of the 28 seats it contested. In Gujarat it won all the eight seats, and in UP out of the seven constituencies where polls were held, the BJP clinched six. In Karnataka, two seats went to the BJP and also snatched the seat from TRS threby making its footprint there. Thus, the people who had sunk in the misery of demonetisation, also voted for Modi even after the untold hardships caused by the lockdown and the the frightening migration that followed – in fact of a scale unprecedented after the partition. If anything, what the election results drive home is the spectacle of the people still continuing to repose their trust in the BJP.

As a matter of fact, Bihar had everything necessary to turn popular sentiment against Nitish Kumar. He had launched his chief ministership on a platform of people's welfare programmes, but by the time he ended his third term, he got into a rut of corruption and administrative inertia. With the Covid crisis added to this, the misery of misrule came to be the immediate experience of any common citizen. But paradoxically, the party that was able to make capital out of the popular perception against Nitish - much more than the opposition - was none other than those who had been ruling sitting on his shoulders, i.e. the BJP. The party held up Modi, where Nitish had faltered. Thus they were able to tide over the anti-Nitish sentiments using a Modi charisma; at the same time BJP did everything to clip the wings of Nitish who was ruling his tiny empire of Bihar. It is the result of this stance which is reflected in Chirag Paswan's LJP contesting on its own, which the poll results also prove. Thus the BJP killed two birds with one shot: keeping Paswan out of the equations and reducing the numerical strength of JD-U, thus wresting the anchorship of the alliance.

Overall, Bihar elections declare that India has come to a stage of servility where regardless of what happens to the country, the king is great. There were signs even earlier that this is a country-wide phenomenon. An example is the survey conducted jointly by Gaon Connection and CSDS (Centre for Study of Developing Societies) during three months from May, when the sufferings from Covid lockdown and migration upto July when the lockdown travails were at their utmost. In the survey that covered 23 states, 179 districts and 25,371 villagers, 78 per cent of the people were satisfied with the moves made by Modi government to face the damage of Covid. The current Indian situation looks conducive for winning the people's trust more with the audacity to pose as a hero, than on issues of development. Perhaps it is because he could feel the pulse of the people that Thejashwi Yadav was able to take on NDA inch by inch in Bihar. Overall, the major takeaway from Bihar poll result is that only those who realistically come to grips with these paradoxes of Indian democracy have any political future.

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TAGS:Bihar poll outcome BJP capitalising Thejashwi made a wave LJP made tool encounter in kashmir 
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