Nitish Kumar has become a symbol of changing sides and playing power politics with no holds barred. Despite being a socialist, he has made alliances with the left, right and centre. In 2015, Nitish Kumar left the alliance with the BJP and joined hands with Lalu Prasad Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Congress. This ensured that the JD(U)-RJD-Congress ‘Mahagathbandhan’ won the state of Bihar in 2015, Nitish Kumar became the chief minister and RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav was his deputy. Like a chameleon, Nitish Kumar defected to BJP and brought down the Mahagathbandhan government in 2017. He remained a coalition Chief Minister till 2020 and contested elections in 2020 to get another term.
Nitish Kumar has inducted five Muslims and five Dalits into the cabinet, similarly, he has included some leading figures of Mahagathbandhan as ministers, the issue of caste and creed has also been suitably addressed by Nitish Kumar by inducting eight ministers from the Yadav clan with an eye on 2024. Mahagathbandhan govt is expected to focus on good governance, jobs for the youth, erasing tensions and hatred spread by RSS/BJP duo and poverty reduction. As expected, BJP has responded by launching federal intelligence and investigating agencies against Bihar leadership, the latest being the issue of warrants against newly inducted Law Minister Mr Kartikeya Singh on charges of kidnapping in 2014. Congress has already warned that BJP would launch the notorious ED(Enforcement Directorate) against the Mahagathbandhan govt of Nitish Kumar in the coming days.
What are the strategic conclusions drawn from this revolving door politics of Bihar? We have tried to sift the trends from Indian media and present these in succeeding paras: BJP is likely to see some meaningful resistance in the next Lok Sabha elections, especially if the Mahagathbandhan can hold on in Bihar, this will provide an incentive to other regional parties along the Indian Eastern seaboard as well as Dravidian India in the south. Mahagathbandhan at the National level will have to cater for strong and emerging leaders like Mamata Banerjee of West Bengal, Arvind Kejriwal in Delhi and Punjab and Rahul Gandhi. Until there is no broad consensus on a minimum common program and power distribution, a united front against the BJP-led NDA will become meaningless. Lalu’s son, Tejashwi Yadav will try to place himself as the next CM of Bihar, he is already calling the shots and is building the Yadav base for a prolonged power grab.
Muslim political power remains dispersed and has not been able to check the tide of soft and hard Hindutva, can Bihar become a catalyst for Muslim leadership in states like UP, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, West Bengal and even Assam? What role can be played by this dispersed power represented by the Owaisi brothers of Hyderabad, Azam Khan clan in UP, religious leaders of Ajmer, Deoband, Bareli and Kerala, Anis Ahmed of Popular front of India(PFI) and the Congressi leaders like Ghulam Nabi Azad? Unfortunately, Indian Muslim demographic strength, which by conservative estimates is equal to the size of Pakistan, has not been allowed to become a unified political entity. Secular and non-secular mainstream parties in India have made sure that Muslim political power is not allowed to morph into something meaningful, no wonder, Muslims in India remain bewildered and powerless.
Is the revolving door politics in India doing any service to the people of India, especially, its downtrodden? As highlighted by the NDTV, the latest State of Inequality in India Report compiled by the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister shows a bleak picture. It indicates that 90% of Indians earn less than 25000 Rs a month, that means, if someone in Pakistan is earning more than 55000 Rs a month, he is better off than 1.26 billion Indians. In a more shocking revelation on the inequality in India, the report suggests that the income of the top 1 percent shows a growing trend while that of the bottom 10 per cent is shrinking. While Pakistani media keeps talking of Ambanis, Tatas and Adanis, and how their wealth has grown exponentially, it may be appreciated that an average Indian is nowhere near the lifestyle enjoyed by an average Pakistani. In a nutshell, Bihar’s revolving door politics have displayed some hope for anti-BJP coalitions at present and may strengthen the anti-incumbency drive against Modi in the next Lok Sabha elections, figures are crossed, we wait for 2024.