Will Bihar show the way for the country again?text_fields
Is the political transformation in Bihar a harbinger of any crucial evolution in national politics? Even those who pray for it to be so do recognise that the political track record of Nitish is not so glorious as to warrant such hopes. Bihar's history over two decades has seen of grand alliances entering the scene with big hopes and crashing with still bigger disappointments. And Nitish himself has been an instrument in such dramatic changes. As one who became chief minister again through new political games he used to be called 'U-turn uncle' by his current deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav himself. At the the same time, Nitish is an adroit political strategist with a sense of the people's pulse. That is why he has been able to outdo the machinations of Amit Shah and to wlk away from NDA without any split in the party and continue as chief minister. And this change of floor was the last alternative before Nitish to obviate the fate of Uddhav Thackeray in Maharashtra. However, the key factor that paved the way for the grand alliance to come to power again was the flexibility displayed by Tejashwi Yadav who did not consider the hurt and pain of the political backlash he had incurred once. There is no doubt that the change of tack of Nitish is a slap on the face of BJP for its political hegemonism.
The election result of 2020 had convinced Nitish that the BJP had succeeded with its tactic of weakening his position with Chirag Paswan in the front line. And Nitish knew enough from his close association with the BJP since 1996 that the BJP was plotting to politically decimate his party and himself by ineniously catapulting him to the chief minister's position. And that conviction was reinforced by the BJP's buying up Nitish's confidant and former national president RCP Singh. The rupture between the BJP and Nitish was getting manifested in the contradictory stances between the two on issues of Agnipath agitation and the presidential election. In a situation when no party has the moral right to bemoan the deterioration of political morality, viewing these floor-crossings of Bihar only through the lens of political legitimacy would only lend consolation to the BJP in its desperation. As a matter of fact the political changes in Maharashtra and Bihar throw light on the fact that the BJP as an ally is more dangerous than the BJP as an enemy. Realising the fact that the Hindutva party is trying to broaden its base at the expense of friends and foes, should be a disturbing revelation to parties who yearn to become its new allies. Over the past eight years, a dozen parties quit the NDA, and none of it for ideological reasons.
The switch of alliance of Janata Dal-U has served to raise hopes in the Opposition ranks, as indicated by the statements of Akhilesh Yadav and Sharad Pawar. The development in Bihar has also helped to create a ripple effect in the BJP's complacence that the 2024 general election will be a walk-over. It is natural that doubts will arise about whether this alliance can be extended to other states or will wither under power tussles. Only when such doubts are answered through credible practical moves will the people's expectations get ignited. The trust of the people can be recaptured when it gets proven that stable government can come not only from the BJP. For that to happen, the opposition needs clear and robust planning and speedy programmes. If the mahagathbandhan shows the capability to adopt well thought-out political stances and action plans before 2024, its ramifications will be visible beyond Bihar too. One major move to make it happen is to order a caste census in Bihar. Such a move in Bihar, a state characterised by castes and sub-castes in its demography, will have a palpable impact including major upheavals in national politics. And it will lead the country to more consequential social reforms than what was achieved by Mandal Commission. Then Bihar will once again determine the direction of the country. At the least it will constitute a fitting atonement for Nitish's amoral power shifts over two decades.