Bihar Opera

The latest somersault by Nitish Kumar, the Chief Minister of Bihar, embracing the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)and taking oath afresh in comradeship with his new ally, has created a stir, but is not at all surprising. Preparations were afoot for this for a considerable length of time, which became apparent when Nitish supported Modi's demonetisation drive that led to considerable loss of employment and output, and in some cases lives, in the economy and harmed many, of course not the corporate tycoons. In truth the redoubtable Kumar tried to bring down his own governments for four times in past four years in his bid to create grounds for making alliance with BJP. The announced reason for the desertion is the charge of corruption against Lalu Prasad Jadav and his family, particularly one of Lalu's sons. But the point is that such charges are not new; then why did Nitish embrace Lalu's Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) on the occasion of the last assembly polls despite the famous fodder scam? Besides, what about the Byapam and several other scams on which the investigation non-existent or at best slow, because persons either belonging to or close to the ruling party at the centre are involved in them? It should be kept in mind that in the last assembly polls in Bihar, the majority of voters opted for an anti-BJP alliance, not for Nitish Kumar only, and that Nitish Kumar was enthroned as the Chief Minister owing to the fact of his being a partner of this alliance. If he had lost faith in this alliance, he could and should have recommended the dissolution of the assembly and demanded fresh polls. But he has shown that his 'morality' lacks enough bones and muscles to seek a fresh-mandate from the electorate and that for the sake of chair, he can embrace anybody and forge any type of alliance. The other day, Narendra Modi was his bete noire and now he has become Nitish's godfather. Of course, the lure of chair washes away all senses of infamy brought by such dirty somersaults, while the common man watches helplessly. The so-called 'economic growth' in Bihar under the Nitish regime is also a meaningless obsession, because as far as the two indices of development, namely the PQLI and the HDI, Bihar continues to remain a backward state. Nitish Kumar has done little to raise Bihar in terms of human capabilities, which these two indices reflect. On the other hand, Lalu Prasad, by taking the side of his son on the issue of the latter's resignation, has provided Nitish with a grand excuse. He could have persuaded his son to resign from the ministry and to expose the power-hungry face of Nitish Kumar. Yet he remained determined not to have his son dropped from the ministry, thus blackening his own image further. His earlier record in tackling the forces of communalism is commendable, but trying to impose a dynastic rule, not free from corruption, in Bihar by whatever means available is definitely undemocratic and fraught with danger, and on this occasion, it has strenghthened the BJP and paved the way for communal fascism to gain fresh footholds in Bihar. The danger of this fascism in the name of 'Hindu nationalism' looms large, as so many incidents amply suggest, but secularism and corruption do not necessarily go hand in hand. It is not that real progressives and their organisations do not understand this truth, but their strength and striking power are not as yet cohesive. The million dollar question of this moment is whether it is at all possible to defeat fascism by electoral means alone, because leaders who ride the popular wave and come to power are very often prone to change sides, and are more often than not busy pursuing their narrow self-interests and self-projections to the neglect of the greater danger, thus showing a pathetic lack of awareness of the danger of themselves being gobbled up by the main enemy. This has been exemplified by the recent UP polls, where the forces of communal polarisation won with less than 40% of the votes polled. Now this has been repeated in Bihar in a new form, leaving serious warnings for the people.

Vol. 50, No.5, Aug 6 - 12, 2017