Even a motley alliance of RJD and Congress is sufficient to wreck electoral prospects of JD (U) chief and chief executive of Bihar, Nitish Kumar, who barely a year ago was perceived and projected as the political face of anti-BJP forces. But social acceptability of the grand alliance and more and more political parties expressing their willingness to join the alliance has provided an explicit indication that the 2019 election and more precisely the 2020 Assembly election would prove to be a Waterloo for him.
The grand alliance of 2015 which catapulted Nitish as CM was viewed simply as a forum of backward caste forces and political parties. But recent developments and emergence of Tejashwi Yadav as the public face of these forces has broadened the base of the alliance. Even the five major Left forces and parties which have strong base in Arrah, Patna, Jehanabad. Gaya, Aurangabad of the south Bihar and also in North Bihar have decided to join hands with the alliance.
More than winning a few seats, it is realisation of the urgent political compulsion to defeat saffron forces that has inspired them to come together. It is imperative that for the sake of this unity and political compulsion the left may have to forgo a few seats which are their strong bases for accommodating the alliance partners. In the 2015 elections, CPI (ML) had won at least four seats in the face of a tough challenge from JD(U) and especially Nitish who made his averseness to CPI (ML) the main plank. Even then he could not ensure the defeat of their candidates.
In fact, the left sharing the platform with the RJD-Congress alliance would add to their political credibility. No doubt people of Bihar are inclined towards the RJD-Congress combination yet some reservation persists. The rural proletariat and minorities are still to put their trust in them. With the left pledging their support, this section of the voters would shift towards the alliance.
Nitish has been nursing the hope that extremely backward castes would extend their support to him. But the chances are remote. Dominance of upper caste people, particularly voters in the NDA government has unnerved them.
RLSP chief Upendra Kushwaha hinting at alliance with RJD in Bihar could be seen in this backdrop. Technically Kushwahas are described as belonging to the backward caste, the fact is they are rich and well-off. Kushwaha’s remark of milk from Yadavs and rice from Kushwahas would make good ‘kheer’ should be perceived in the right perspective. The two castes have a long social and economic rivalry, but for the sake of having control on the political fulcrum of the state they are striving to come closer forgetting their historical animosity.
RLSP chief and union minister Upendra Kushwaha, while addressing a gathering dropped a broad hint of political realignment. He said “When the milk from Yadavs and rice from Kushwahas are mixed together, it makes for good ‘kheer’. But for making kheer, not only we need milk and rice, it also needs ‘dry fruits’ in the form of support from the downtrodden and backward classes. This is the meaning of social justice.” Kushwahas are Koeris, an agricultural community.
In Bihar, Dalits are by and large with the CPI (ML – Liberation) though it has a Dalit leader of the stature of Ram Vilas Paswan. But the fact of the matter is even Paswan needs some political forum and formation to win his own seat. Though he belongs to the Dalit community he has no hold on his community members. It is a bare fact that Dalits do not recognise him as their political voice and face. He is seen more as a friend of upper castes.
There are many Dalit groups who prefer going with their sub/sub-sub caste categorisation as a way to emphasise their sense of history and being. But very few are there who claim him to be their public face. The Dalit have been cut up with him for not raising their issues in a very strong manner. He has been keeping away from high lighting the dalit voice as Dalit as a phenomenon of radical consciousness” which goes beyond caste and affirms a “symbol of revolution”.
Dalits have a population of more than 40 per cent. But in the politics of Bihar they are the most neglected community. They have been fighting against their exploitation and repression under the leadership of the Naxalites and Marxists.
Being a patron of Hindutva organisations, the government is also interested in diverting the attention of the people from the said plot of Hindutvaites who at present are running amok and indulging in violent activities. This clearly amounts to encouraging communal forces. The police are at present busy making out a case that those arrested were planning to overthrow the government by “violence”. They forget that India have a democratic Constitution, which permits people to overthrow a government through the ballot. But that will be decided by the court when the so-called evidence collected by the police is presented before it.
The fact, however, remains that the present arbitrary and illegal actions let loose by the government have made the life of citizens insecure. Although the present regime does not appear to believe in democracy, it must abide by the Constitution. It cannot change the identity of the nation from the democratic to a fascist nation to suit its ideology, without changing the Constitution. The Dalits have been angry with the BJP and Modi government for their failure to protect their interest. By and large Dalits nurse the feeling that BJP has been promoting the interest of the upper castes. What strengthened belief is their past experience of upper caste atrocities. In Bihar the upper castes especially Bhumihars and Brahmans are the base of the saffron politics.
The left set to officially join the secular grand alliance would be a major step in the direction of evolving an anti-BJP forum. This is a follow-up action in the backdrop of CPI deciding to work to galvanise anti-BJP forces and parties. The unity of RJD-Congress combination with the Left will be a formidable one to give a crushing blow to NDA parties in Bihar in the coming Lok Sabha poll.