Prime Minister Modi was in Patna on Saturday to kick start BJP’s campaign. Slated later this year, the Bihar Assembly elections will prove to be an acid test for Modi and Amit Shah. One would imagine that the people of Bihar would have seen through the façade of friendship that Lalu Yadav and Nitish Kumar have forged, but nothing in Bihar is safe to predict. The volatile nature of voting in the State could swing fortunes either way.
Sharing the stage with Modi and company was Bihar chief minister, Nitish Kumar. He appeared edgy, self-conscious, and eager to make his run. Actually, his presence was a surprise. To share the stage with his nemesis, that too when the agenda was to begin BJP’s campaign in the State, was somewhat a confusing tactic.
Nitish has stated that he was on the stage with his political enemies because he welcomed Modi as India’s PM, nothing else. He clarified his position by making a politically-correct statement, but couldn’t hide his displeasure at being seated next to the tallest leader in the country.
Lalu Yadav, meanwhile, was watching the proceedings on TV. The fight for the throne of Bihar was unfolding before his eyes, but he could only sit back, helpless. He is barred from fighting elections and one can see his frustration every time one reminds him of the Court order.
Modi’s agenda of development was punctuated by short bursts of attack on the traditional rulers of Bihar. He urged the people of Bihar not to allow the days of ‘jungle-raj’ during Lalu Yadav’s regime to return. He pricked at their conscience, reminding them that till recently, Lalu and Nitish were sworn enemies. Their hatred of each other had no parallel. Yet, they came together just to keep BJP away.
The lethal combination of Lalu and Nitish will only take Bihar to its ultimate doom. They have done it before in Bihar, individually. During Lalu’s rule, Bihar did not have any law and order apparatus. Leaving home after daylight was fraught with danger. Kidnappings took place in daylight and ransoms were demanded without the fear of law, because law was always on their side, a direct consequence of nepotism. Every relative of Lalu found a place in the Government. They were both politicians, and goons. Complaining against them made no sense, so they quietly suffered. How can such a dark past be permitted to re-play itself? Modi even had this to say: “RJD stands for “Rozana Jungle-raj ka Dar” (Fear of Jungle Rule everyday).
Modi even tried to strike a chord with the Dalits. He pointed out how Jitan Ram Manjhi was dishonored by Nitish Kumar, and how Dalits did not get the honour it deserved under the JD (U) regime. There was resonance among people, something that Lalu and Nitish would be concerned about.
It is very evident that the combination of JDU, RJD and Congress is based on one common interest – keep BJP out of Bihar, at any cost! It’s a pity that Indian politics has to bear such disgrace. The trio has nothing else in common. If they believe that the Biharis are idiots, and that they won’t care much about this awkward association, they should be taught a lesson. If they believe they have fooled people by giving them non-sense reasons, they should still be taught a lesson.
Nitish Kumar’s personal dislike of Modi was the only reason why a 17-year-old alliance unceremoniously broke. The people of Bihar had given the mandate to both the JDU and BJP. Nitish breaking the coalition, and going alone, was a clear contravention of people’s mandate.
Modi knows that the road ahead is littered with hindrances. He still roared in the backyard of Nitish Kumar’s den.