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Home > 2022 > What Nitish needs to break Modi’s bluster | Faraz Ahmad

Mainstream, VOL LX No 35 New Delhi, August 20, 2022

What Nitish needs to break Modi’s bluster | Faraz Ahmad

Friday 19 August 2022, by Faraz Ahmad

On August 9, the anniversary of Quit India Day Nitish Kumar ousted the BJP from power in Bihar by checkmating Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his ruling party with two quick moves of first resigning as the NDA chief minister of Bihar and without wasting precious moments going back to Raj Bhawan to stake claim to form a Mahagathbandhan government with RJD, Congress and the Left parties. He has also quickly formed his new council of ministers with Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejaswi Prasad Yadav as the Deputy chief minister, consolidating the gains made on August 9. But he is likely to face far greater challenge in the days and months to comeas the deadline for the 2024 general elections approaches.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED), and the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) and such other agencies are doing the bidding of Modi government without raising an eyebrow, and the judiciary a appears a wee bit reluctant and hesitant to question these clear transgressions of the limitations of the executive. Knowing full well the BJP’s arrogance and a vengeful behaviour, it would be naïve to imagine that the BJP will swallow this humiliation lying down or that it will relent on its plans of repeating Maharashtra in Bihar by seducing JD-U, Congress and even RJD MLAs through lucre or ED, CBI threat. They have the resources and pliable agencies to bring up cases against say Tejaswi to push Nitish into a corner—to make him jettison the secular alliance once more, by slapping cases and demoralising Nitish by making Modi’s TV channels raise hell on “corruption”, dynasty et al. Nitish has to be prepared to counter this obvious move Modi is likely to make in not too distant a future.

So far Nitish has done well notwithstanding the scorn heaped on him by the ‘mainstream’ media, for throwing aside the NDA alliance. This move to upstage two present day master strategicians, Modi and Amit Shah, has shown Nitish as a bigger and smarter power player than the duo whom their admirers consider invincible.

India Today’s latest survey shows how the number of those unhappy with Modi and his party’s arrogance is increasing steadily causing Modi to worry a bit. The latest sign of arrogance is the way the Gujarat government remitted the life sentences of the 11 convicted of gangrape of a pregnant Bilkis Bano, her mother and other women and brutal murder of her three-year-old child and 10 others in her extended family, just because they happened to be Muslims. No crime could be more heinous than this. But the murderers were shamelessly felicitated and hugged as they walked out of the jail free. More and more people are now willing to notice and speak critically of Modi and BJP’s audacity, according to the latest survey. Naturally the regional parties, slowly deserting Modi’s boat one by one have noted this mindset of the Sangh parivar earlier than all the surveys.

Already Amit Shah had declared his intent to make a Congress-mukt Bharat soon. On July 30 at its two-day national executive in Patna, BJP president J.P. Nadda went many steps further by predicting that soon enough no regional party would be left on the political firmament of this country. “Some have already demised and others will vanish soon, leaving BJP alone all over the country,” the BJP president proudly pronounced to loud clapping and sloganeering by BJP members.

Perhaps Nadda jumped the gun by hinting of doing to Nitish what the BJP did to Uddhav Thackeray in Maharashtra. Alongside Operation Jharkhand was underway seducing three Congress MLAs from Jharkhand Irfan Ansari, Rajesh Kachhap and Naman Vixel Kongari to bring down Hemant Soren’s coalition government and put instead a BJP-led government there with seduced legislators. Thankfully they were caught by Mamata Banerjee’s police in Bengal carrying huge amount of cash in the boot of their car and detained.

Whatever posturing of magnanimity and accommodation towards smaller regional forces the BJP may make in public, privately BJP men don’t mind saying aloud that their time has come to rule over the entire length and breadth of the country, leaving no space for any other party. Despite pretending to win over sections of Extremely backward castes (EBCs) and Mahadalits in the Hindutva fold, and now even Adivasis by selecting Mrs Draupadi Murmu as the first Adivasi woman President of India, the BJP is primarily an Aryavrat party which has never really reconciled to the rise of Mandal politics since 1990 when former Prime Minister V.P. Singh implemented the Mandal Commission report granting 27 per cent reservation for the backward castes in central government services.

Later, in the UPA government, the then Human Resources Development Minister Arjun Singh extended this reservation in universities and academics as well, causing tremendous heartburn to pro-BJP leaders and legal luminaries like former Chief Justice of India R.C.Lahoti who sat on dharna with anti-Mandal students outside the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi to oppose reservation for OBC students. The entire Sangh Parivar is keen to end reservations through surreptitious means though and consider these regional parties as an obstacle in their path. The Parivar is determined to complete the process of capture of the entire country, unhindered by any other political entity when it holds the centenary celebrations of the Rashtriya Swamasevak Sangh (RSS) in 2025. The next general elections are due in 2024. The BJP ambition is to not just break Rajiv Gandhi’s record 410 seats in the Lok Sabha in 1984 but to compete with Jawaharlal Nehru under whose leadership there were only Congress governments in all the states. Following the victory by hook or crook in the crucial assembly elections earlier this year the Opposition parties have become so demoralised that they seem to have given up the fight in sofar as preparing for the next assembly and then general elections.

But Nitish’ move has suddenly boosted their morale. This single move has immediately been welcomed and supported by the Congress; in fact, Nitish spoke to Sonia and Rahul Gandhi before making his moves; also the Left, now having a mentionable presence in the Bihar Mahagathbandhan, as also Trinamul Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, also facing Enforcement Directorate (ED) heat let loose by Modi’s Central government not to forget Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav.

However, Nitish and Tejaswi need a trump card to counter Modi’s expected barbs on corruption, dynasty, and nepotism. The only arrow in their quiver and that is a Brahmastra, is Caste Census. Already Nitish had announced his intent to undertake that. His government has to conduct Caste Census in Bihar post haste and thus show the beacon to the other regional leaders representing the OBCs and Dalits like Akhilesh and Mayawati and even Gehlot and Baghel to raise a storm which would surely push Modi and his BJP on the backfoot. This because the BJP believes in paying only lip service to the backwards and Dalits, But deep inside they fear the revelation of the truth about the proportion of OBCs and Dalits and their meagre representation in all walks of life, notwithstanding all the breast-beating by the handful of upper caste who dominate in all spheres of public life and services. This one move could also project Nitish as the true challenger to Modi’s prime ministerial candidature for the third term. Yes, once that is done, he can truly become the UPA’s PM candidate face and a credible one at that.

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