Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar made it public that he would leave no stone unturned to puncture Narendra Modi’s aspiration for the top executive post of the country. While addressing the executive committee meeting of Janata Dal (U) in Patna , he announced,”Our party will only support the candidature of someone with impeccable secular image”
The message was loud and clear that Nitish led JD (U) would not support the candidature of Narendra Modi who recently asserted as the front runner candidate in the BJP, the largest political party on the canvas of NDA.
But the moot political question is why Nitish is so fearful of the emergence of Modi in national politics. Some analyst may describe the phenomenon as clash of personality of two political titans aspiring for the PM’s Post. This may be one reason as both of them have successfully administered their states for quite a long period and the duo very tactically not only marketed the story of their state but also projected their own persona at the national and international level.
But Nitish’s political calculation is not that simple; he knows very well that with only 20 odd MPs at the best how can any one aspire to lead ruling coalition in India. So now it’s time for him to expand his political space in the state as the party miserably failed to make any mark in neighboring states despite all good efforts in different elections.
Nitish is eyeing 16 percent Muslim votes of Bihar that can make wonder in electoral politics of the state as it was earlier practised by Lalu with success in his social alignment popularly called as MY (Muslim and Yadav) combination. To win over muslim support he certainly needs to stand apart from BJP in general and Narendra Modi in particular.
Nitish successfully kept away Modi in 2010 assembly campaign in Bihar to fetch Muslim votes that are deserting RJD in Bihar.
Recently in Rajkot, Narendra Modi charged the casteist leaders of Bihar for pushing the state into economic backwardness. He advised his fellow party men to take lesson out of it.
Nitish took no time in reacting to Modi’s remark and said “chalni doose soop ke, jekra me sahasra chhed (it’s the pot calling the kettle black)”. Perhaps he took it as a personal attack on him to belittle him at the national level. No other political parties of Bihar and UP were so aggressive in their reaction to his statement.
Dalit leader Ramvilas Paswan said “Both leaders are two sides of the same coin and practising divisive politics in their own ways.” He further charged Nitish of carving out “Mahadalit” a separate entity dividing dalits just for creating a separate vote bank.
Nitish also segregated Ati pichhri jati (most backward castes ) from backward castes. Their separate entity too helped them to become a political force in the last assembly election of the state.
Caste is a reality of the society and no part of the country is totally immune from it. Almost in all states caste plays a pivotal role in politics and elections. Though casteism is one of the key factors of the backwardness of Bihar but other factors like lack of political vision of state leaders and discriminatory central assistance were more importatant .
Just after independence Bihar was one of the best governed states of the country but in the late sixties when the caste based politics took a lead the situation started deteriorating and a situation came when all major appointments even at administrative levels were influenced by castiesm and politicians felt that it’s paying dividend in elections as it is a very powerful tool to mobilize masses in their favour. But this led to deterioration of great institutions of the state and irresponsive, corrupt governance at every level.
But this is also a reality that in a semi feudal society of Bihar, backwards and dalits got their voice heard only due to politics of backward castes practised by some politicians like Lalu Yadav. A large section of subaltern society could integrate itself with the main stream.
Now it’s time for Nitish to build the image of the state as a modern one based on good governance eschewing the primordial identity based politics. Narendra Modi has virtually thrown a challenge before him. Due to historical and socio geographical reason Bihar can’t be Gujarat.
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