Mainstream, VOL LIII No 47 New Delhi, November 14, 2015
Inestimable Value of the Bihar Mandate
Monday 16 November 2015, by
The results of the five-phase Bihar Assembly polls are out. Proving most of the poll predictions wrong, the electorate of the State handed a decisive verdict by giving a two-thirds majority to the JD(U)-RJD-Congress’ grand alliance or mahagathbandhan leaving the BJP (which runs the government at the Centre with guidance from the RSS) and its allies way behind. The final figures are as follows: the BJP and its allies secured 58 out of 243 seats whereas the mahagathbandhan won as many as 178 and others bagged seven [and they include the paltry tally of the Left parties which bagged three seats, all by the CPI-ML (Liberation)]. This kind of sweep by the Nitish Kumar-Laloo Yadav-Sonia Gandhi combine has hit the BJP hard, devastating its leaders (especially PM Narendra Modi and party President Amit Shah) who had hoped to banish Nitish and Laloo from the State and some sections of the media had echoed their views without the least hesitation.
State CM Nitish Kumar has correctly analysed the election results as a verdict against both arrogance of power and intolerance practised by the BJP stalwarts without exception. According to Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi, it was a clear mandate against the politics of dividing the country. These are all valid and tenable. But what was unmistakable was the egg on the face of Narendra Modi because of none but himself—it was he who he who singlehandedly ran the BJP’s election campaign (ably assisted by Amit Shah while so many Union Ministers were at their beck and call moving across the State) launching tirades against all his opponents, notably RJD chief Laloo Prasad whom he accused of having brought ‘jungle raj’ in Bihar. This highly personalised campaign was completely rejected by the people of the State. Side by side the electorate gave a befitting rebuff to the BJP’s—and Modi-Amit Shah’s—strategy of polarising the voters. This was clearly manifest in the BJP President’s public comment that Nitish’s victory will result in crackers being burst in Pakistan. This only once again exposed his innate anti-Pakistan sentiments nurtured by his inbuilt prejudices against Muslims in general.
One should unequivocally state that the Bihar results are being warmly greeted in both India and Pakistan as well as the subcontinent as a whole by peaceloving people in general striving for amity and friendship among the public in SAARC countries as a victory for those forces interested in promoting close relations among the South Asian masses and a defeat of those hell-bent on fostering enmity, bitterness, suspicion and hostility among them. This simple truth the BJP is unable to digest. That is precisely because its slogan of ‘development’, periodically repeated in Modi’s election rallies in Bihar, was just a façade to conceal the fact that it was resolved to propagate the divisive slogan of Hindutva to the hilt. And that is why it brought all such issues as beef-eating etc. to the fore. Rabid communalism was spread across the State in the guise of nationalism. No wonder it simultaneously ran a campaign to denigrate Jawaharlal Nehru, the architect of modern India (whose 126th brith anniversary is being observed shortly). Needless to emphasise, it was Jawaharlal Nehru who had laid the foundations of secular democracy in the country by highlighting it in the Constitution (for which reason he had earned the wrath of the ‘nationalists’ of the RSS-BJP brand).
Time and again it has been underscored in these columns that with the Modi-Shah duo running the BJP, the ruling dispensation here since coming to power last year was seeking to impose a fascist state in India and did record substantive success in that endeavour. This was evident from the language used by Cabinet Ministers to denounce the writers, scholars, scientists who had spontaneously protested agaist the growing intolerance in society originating from the side of the RSS-BJP.
The people of Bihar have, by their clear-cut verdict, boldly spoken out against such efforts to attack such eminent personalities opposed to the BJP’s activities that merit unreserved censure. The mandate is also against those (that is, the RSS-BJP activists and leaders) seeking to overturn the nation’s time-tested policies that had engendered social cohesion and communal harmony. The public have expressed their unambiguous revulsion against such tactics and thus those tactics have boomeranged on the practitioners with deadly effect.
The Bihar elections have also unmasked the role of the media. Several electronic media channels predicted victory for the BJP-led NDA and such predictions relied more on wishful thinking than rigorous scientific analysis. Certain corporate houses went out of their way to ingratiate the ruling party at the Centre by ensuring the conduct of such ‘favourable’ poll surveys for reasons not difficult to comprehend.
Overall it has been a great victory for the grand alliance in Bihar overcoming every possible adversity. And everyone knows that its significance is not confined to Bihar’s boundaries. Across the nation people are heaving a sigh of relief that the danger of permanent damage to our polity has been warded off at least for the present. Herein lies the inestimable value of the Bihar mandate.
It is now time for secular democrats of all hues to consolidate the success of the Bihar polls so that the threat to our nationhood and the idea of India posed by the Modi-Shah-led present-day BJP can be effectively resisted and removed from our body politic. Can they do so? But before answering that query they must first unite against the fascist menace still lurking in the horizon. Regrettably that unity was missing in the just-concluded Bihar elections wherein the electorate exhibited exceptional maturity and sagacity to avert the danger for the moment. But let there be no mistake—it has not been eradicated as yet.
November 9 S.C.