In politics, as in life, there are neither permanent friends, nor permanent enemies. There are only permanent interests, and this rule of thumb was best reflected at the Swabhiman Rally in Patna on Sunday.
Sonia Gandhi, Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad Yadav shared the stage and took turns at Modi-bashing, something that is fast becoming their favourite pastime. With not much time left for the Bihar assembly elections, the trio appeared outwardly confident of stopping Modi in his tracks and appealed to the masses of Bihar to reject Modi and BJP. As an educated, thinking individual, I felt offended at the show of fake camaraderie on stage.
Nitish Kumar’s JD (U) and the BJP have had some good years working together. The ‘alliance’ model of governance benefitted Bihar, and it was only after the announcement of the name of Narendra Modi as Prime Ministerial candidate that Nitish pulled the plug, leaving Bihar stranded. One man’s ego prevailed over the larger good of the State. The developmental agenda became secondary and every ounce of energy and State time was spent in trying to shame the Narendra Modi-led NDA government.
It is the arrogance of Nitish and Lalu that is offending. Sworn enemies until recently, the duo has embraced each other with the passion of long-lost brothers. After being at each other’s throat for years together, Nitish and Lalu are suddenly brothers-in-arms and can’t stop singing each other’s praise. The fear of Narendra Modi has forced Nitish and Lalu to swallow pride and turned them into friends.
Sonia Gandhi has also joined the ranks. The Congress president slammed Modi without any restraint, lashing the Prime Minister with hard-hitting verbal salvos. Sounding almost delusional in her perception, Sonia Gandhi accused Modi of handing out doles to corporate bigwigs. Without any substantial proof, Sonia Gandhi declared Modi guilty of harbouring corporate interests.
She crossed all limits of logic when she said Bihar prospered under Lalu Prasad Yadav. She went on to praise Nitish in the same breath, calling him the ideal man to lead Bihar. Very conveniently, she forgot all the criticism and name-calling that she subjected the Nitish-BJP Government to, and developed a new-found love for the JD (U).
It’s clearly an insult to the wisdom of a Bihari. Nitish and Lalu can hug each other a thousand times, the underlying hostility for each other has not gone unnoticed. There is palpable tension, with Lalu feeling extremely insecure about his political relevance. He is not allowed to fight elections or hold any real political power. Brand Lalu can help only so much. Will Nitish be able to sustain this new friendship, or leave Lalu in the lurch once, if, JD U regains power? These questions must surely haunt Lalu.
Modi is also invoking desperation, and in desperation, Nitish and the others are making senseless statements. Nitish made the impulsive, election-oriented statement that he would spend Rs 2.70 lakh crore on development projects over the next five years in the event of being re-elected. Nitish must first explain where the fund is going to come from. Before making tall promises, did Nitish do the homework?
Bihar generates an annual revenue from tax and other sources up to Rs 30,000 crore annually, of which 90 per cent goes as payment of salaries, pension and loan. How will the chief minister of Bihar raise such massive funds?
The intelligence of the people of Bihar will decide the fate of political parties. Whether they see through the facade of alliance, only time will tell.