Blinded by communal bile, BJP fails to read Bihar

Written by Mohammed Sajjad | Published on: November 26, 2015
despite his alliance with the BJP, he was able to let communal harmony prevail. In his first stint (2005-10), he brought to book and expedited the judicial trial of the perpetrators of the Bhagalpur riots of October 1989. Then, the ruling Congress under the chief ministership of Satyendra Narayan Sinha (1917-2005) was found either helpless or unwilling to prevent and control the riots, engineered by the factional rivalries of veteran Congressmen Bhagwat Jha Azad (a former chief minister) and Shiv Chandra Jha (a former speaker of the Bihar assembly). The riots were intensified by the visit of the then Prime Minsiter Rajiv Gandhi, who stayed the transfer of the erring police officer. In March 1990, when Lalu Yadav became chief minister, he earned great fame because of his firm handling of communal riots. Nevertheless, he never went for penalizing the rioters[iii]. After Nitish became chief minister in 2005, he re-opened the cases despite being in alliance with the BJP[iv]. Precisely because of this, in 2015 the people trusted Nitish that despite his alliance with Lalu he would succeed in letting development work occur in Bihar.

Nitish’s image of a performing chief minister was all set to attract substantial upper caste votes as well. Seeing this, the RSS found it electorally prudent to consolidate this social base towards the BJP’s side; hence the statement from RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat about a re-look at the reservation policy. Contrary to the assertions of many analysts and politicos, Bhagwat’s statement saved the BJP from a bigger drubbing. But his statement was also fodder for Lalu, who scoops up votes best with such issues. Lalu distributed photocopies of the relevant pages of MS Golwalkar’s Bunch of Thoughts (1966) on a large scale. This text is a foundational exposition of the chauvinistic ideology of the RSS.
Mahagathbandhan relies on scientific seat distribution
The Mahagathbandhan allayed the misgivings of incompatibility by displaying an almost frictionless seat distribution. A young, professionally equipped techno-manager, Prashant Kishor, who fell out with Narendra Modi soon after the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, was won over by Nitish. He was joined by another sharp, articulate strategist, and a professionally trained academic of Delhi University’s department of social work, Prof Manoj Jha, the national spokesperson of the RJD, among others. Applying their professional expertise, they meticulously collected information about the socio-economic profiles and recent electoral histories and profiles of each constituency and of the prospective candidates. They then worked out winnabilities. Based on this, symbols were allotted to the candidates. This defied the conventional practice of seats being allotted to allies and leaving it upon them to choose nominees. It was the reason why there was complete transfer of votes among the Mahagathbandhan allies. This is why, compared to the BJP, the Mahagathbandhan had the least number of rebels. Mahagathbandhan candidates from the Paswan (Dusadh), Kushwaha (Koeris) and upper caste communities, in most cases, attained easy victories with comfortable margins. The Paswans and Kushwahas were also dissatisfied with the BJP because it conceded very few seats to the LJP of Ramvilas Paswan and to the RLSP of Upendra Kushwaha, despite both being ministers in the Narendra Modi cabinet. This was felt as humiliation by their respective social bases. The BJP alliance trailed in the home booths of both leaders.

Nitish said, “Laluji ko Hanuman ji ka gada chalanay do (let Laluji make use of the mace, a weapon associated with the mythical monkey-god Hanuman).

Modi makes mockery of the PM’s office
Another good strategy of the Mahagathbandhan was that immediately after Narendra Modi’s rally, there followed a press conference of Nitish, who made point-by-point rebuttals of the PM’s allegations. Within two or three days of a Modi rally, Nitish-Lalu would hold a ‘sabha’ at the venue, and Lalu would ridicule the PM, to great acclaim. The more Modi attacked the two, the more the subaltern communities consolidated around their leaders, with visible vengeance. Unlike the PM’s rallies, the CM’s sabhas were more organic, with greater participation of women. The meticulous preparedness of the Nitish-Lalu duo can be gauged by the fact that as early as June 2015, when JDU workers were addressed