Skip to main content

Bihar polls: Why desperate bid to impose fragmenting agenda after securing  a mandate for modern India?

Nitish Kumar
By RK Misra*
Mindsets chasing mandates have a maudlin mentality. They put band-aid on a cut finger when seeking power but amputate from the elbow when safely settled. And, all in the name of public interest. Headed by a modern day prime minister elected on a landslide development mandate ,the BJP still needs to fall back on crass communal polarization in the Bihar State Assembly elections, brings out its total bankruptcy of ideas.
A party as old as Independent India which seeks to give a new vision to the country has even failed to clothe its age old polarization formula in more trendy wear. Many of us media persons had watched the polarization drama unfold in the 2002 Gujarat Assembly elections that followed the Godhra train carnage and the statewide communal riots thereafter.
It was then personally led and spread by Chief Minister Narendra Modi through his Gaurav Yatra launched from Phagvel in Central Gujarat on September 8,2002.His speech was all about the ‘daughter of Italy’ and how the Congress could not return to power wearing ‘Italian spectacles’. It did in 2004 and ruled the country for two terms. Modi’s speeches of the time in all its virulence still litter the ’you tube’ landscape.
Time and tide seems to have brought about hardly any change .Three Vidhan Sabha elections in Gujarat and three Parliamentary elections later in a state election in Bihar, it is almost the same communal film in playback mode. There is neither any improvisation, improvement or updating.
In the 2007 State Assembly elections in Gujarat, when Modi carried out his first poll campaign based on a staid developmental agenda ,it had failed to enthuse an audience long used to an opiate of aggression .Within 24 hours he switched communal gears and cottoned onto the ‘maut ka saudagar’ remark by Sonia Gandhi to win back his audience. Eight years later, it has been the same strategy in the final phases of the Bihar elections.
Traditional BJP politics has seen a counterfoil combination holding forth with Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s soft, sombre, poetic persona matched by LK Advani’s hardline ,matter of fact exterior. Modi prefers to play solo so for all the borrowed aura, party chief Amit Shah remains at best a ‘Sancho Panza’, a loyalist not an equal despite sharing space alongside the boss in the hoardings in Bihar.
These also had to yield ground when the ‘soloist’ was effectively matched in the campaign offensive by the hard-soft combination of Lalu Yadav and Nitish Kumar. Lalu was more than a match for Modi’s rough talk while the Bihar Chief Minister kept to the developmental agenda .Every lob had a matching volley, every abuse was traded with an acerbic diatribe.
Nitish’s tantric picture was promptly answered with Modi’s astrologer foray (Bejan Daruwala). A new low in parliamentary democracy was struck when a prime minister who swears by federalism charged a chief minister (Nitish Kumar) with protecting terrorists.
The final outcome of this contest notwithstanding, the fact that Modi was forced to turn to the tried and tested communal agenda in his final poll pitch is proof enough of the imminent attack of nerves. If Nitish-Lalu were targeted for proposing reservation for Muslims in 2005, the Congress was held to charge for the anti-Sikh riots of 1984.
Targeting Nitish rule, Modi seems to have forgotten that the BJP was in alliance with Nitish’s JDU in 2005 and 2010 Assembly elections. Amit Shah’s attempt to build communal phobia with his reference to celebratory cracker bursting in Pakistan if the BJP loses in Bihar may have turned him into a butt of ridicule but his party remains unfazed. It has come out with a mother of cow advertisement to milch the animal for poll purposes on the penultimate day.
It is ironic that the RSS swears by the highest values of national unity and it’s political outfit ,the BJP practices blatant communal polarization to win an election. Do you need a Pakistani ISI to sow discord when your own are doing a much better job? How does communal polarization, beef politics, poisoned barbs from ruling hot-heads, murders and mayhem help the cause of national unity?
Why the desperate, even frantic hurry to impose a fragmenting agenda after securing a mandate to build a progressive and modern India? Would prioritized consolidation of power through people oriented measures not be better strategy than expending energy in re-writing history and dismantling the old before creating the new?
The national manufacturing output has hit a 22 month low this October. The Nikkei India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), which is considered a single figure indicator of manufacturing performance, has registered a third straight monthly fall. Alongside comes the revelation by HSBC whistleblower Herve Falcini that “millions of crores worth illicit funds” are flowing out of India. 
The man who is facing charges of leaking details of account holders of the HSBC Geneva branch accounts in Switzerland has expressed willingness to cooperate with official agencies in their black money probe. “The government lacks seriousness in pursuing the stashed cash”, he says.
Falcini’s leaked list had reached the French government which shared the details of its indian accountholders with the government here. The Supreme Court has been beseeched with a plea that the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) which was initiated to provide employment to the rural poor is languishing because the centre has not released Rs 3500 crore to states since 2012.
The Centre has been put on notice by the apex court. Faced with a National Green Tribual (NGT) whose pro-active role in environmental protection is causing acute discomfort for environmental violators, the NDA government at the Centre is planning a new watchdog body that will stifle the NGT and make legal action against polluting industries more complicated.
The crowning glory, however is the allotment of 10,Rajaji Marg, the former residence of the late President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam to the union culture minister Mahesh Sharma. The union culture minister hit the headlines for his uncultured remark that “Kalam was a great man and a humanist despite being a Muslim”. A former BJP union minister, Arun Shourie whose respect as a journalist stands tall put it aptly when he said, “allotting the house in which Kalam lived to the minister was like” spitting in the face of the people.
This is really symbolic. But then symbolism is lost on a government which prides in humiliating and wearing down the students of its premier institute of cinematic excellence, the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) despite the stalwarts of the profession voicing support for them.They are our own children, not enemies.
Just because a leader of the Opposition visited them does not make them Congress henchmen.They have a just point which should be respected. The BJP has big film industry names in its ranks who would have done justice to the job. But this was not to be. Not where pettiness rules and prejudice governs with a strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles in an egotistical environment.
---
Senior Gandhinagar-based journalist, RK Misra’s blogs can be accessed at http://wordsmithsandnewsplumbers.blogspot.in

Comments

TRENDING

Green revolution "not sustainable", Bt cotton a failure in India: MS Swaminathan

Counterview Desk
In a recent paper in the journal “Current Science”, distinguished scientist PC Kesaven and his colleague MS Swaminathan, widely regarded as the father of the Green Revolution, have argued that Bt insecticidal cotton, widely regarded as the continuation of the Green Revolution, has been a failure in India and has not provided livelihood security for mainly resource-poor, small and marginal farmers.
Sharply taking on Green Revolution, the authors say, it has not been sustainable largely because of adverse environmental and social impacts, insisting on the need to move away from the simplistic output-yield paradigm that dominates much thinking. Seeking to address the concerns about local food security and sovereignty as well as on-farm and off-farm social and ecological issues associated with the Green Revolution, they argue in favour of what they call sustainable ‘Evergreen Revolution’, based on a ‘systems approach’ and ‘ecoagriculture’.
Pointing out that Evergreen Revol…

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Some Hindu bodies in US defending BJP-RSS' divisive, violent activities: Agnivesh

Counterview Desk Last week, Washington DC saw speakers at a religious freedom roundtable, chaired by the US Ambassador for Religious Freedom, Sam Brownback, express concern over "eroding" space for religious freedom in India. Dr Mike Ghouse, executive director, of the Center for Pluralism in Washington DC, referring to the roundtable, said in an email alert that Indian-Americans have "a moral duty to prevent India from being labeled as a Country of Particular Concern by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)".

Rejoinder: Inescapable to have Central Water Commission as strong technical body in India

By BN Navalawala*
This is with reference to Counterview Blog (December 5, 2018), "Modi govt 'shelves' water reforms report, shows 'no interest' in its recommendations", below mentioned are my comments/observations thereon:
A committee was constituted under the Chairmanship of Dr. Mihir Shah, Former Member, Planning Commission, for restructuring of Central Water Commission (CWC) and Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) for optimal development of water resources in the country in the backdrop of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).

Preventing childhood deaths: India performs worse than Bangladesh, "equals" Pakistan

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released study, “The Pneumonia and Diarrhea Progress Report 2018”, prepared by the International Vaccine Access Centre (IVAC) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, has identified India among 15 other countries which are still far off the mark in achieving the targets of the Global Action Plan for the Prevention of Pneumonia and Diarrhea (GAPPD).

India's rewritten textbooks talk of demerits of democracy, praise Hitler, underrate Mughals

Counterview Desk
A detailed, 3,800-word review of the books rewritten under directions of the BJP rulers across India since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in May 2014 has suggested that one of aims of the books is to instill a sense of doubt about India’s democratic polity among the country’s young minds. Reviewed in the prestigious US journal, “The New York Review of Books”, in its latest issue (December 6, 2018) by Alex Traub, the scrutiny insists, the effort has also been to paint Indian history from the angle of “Hindu triumphalism”, even as creating “Islamophobia”.

Govt of India "tarnishing" NGO reputation, dossier leaked selectively: Amnesty

Counterview Desk
Amnesty International India has said that a deliberate attempt is being made to tarnish its reputation by leaking a dossier, supposedly made by investigating agencies, to media without giving it access to any such information. The high profile NGO’s claim follows a Times Now report about proceedings launched by investigative agencies, including Enforcement Directorate (ED) against the rights body for “violations” of rules pertaining to overseas donations.

60 ex-civil servants seek release of CAG reports on Rafale, demonetisation before 2019 polls

Counterview Desk
As many as 60 retired civil servants have asked President Ram Nath Kovind to expedite the release of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) reports on demonetisation and the Rafale deal. The letter, signed mainly by former Indian Administrative Service, Indian Foreign Service and Indian Police Service officers, regrets that the status of the audit is "unclear”. According to them, “An impression is gaining ground that CAG is deliberately delaying its audit reports on demonetisation and Rafale deal till after the May 2019 elections so as not to embarrass the present government”.

Four children die after poor UP Dalit, Muslim families forced to flee to forest area: PVCHR

Counterview Desk
Peoples’ Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR) has said that the forest department police’s crackdown, allegedly without any prior notice, on Dalit and Muslim households in Dakhin Tola, Churk Bazaar, Sonbhadra district, Uttar Pradesh, beating up “children and old people, women, and men in an inhuman way”, has led to “forced displacement, starvation and discrimination”. This has reportedly affected about 350 people.

Murder of Tamil Nadu teenage Dalit girl: "Stoic silence" despite #MeToo movement

Counterview Desk
Brinelle D'souza, who is with the Centre for Health and Mental Health, School of Social Work, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, has prepared a strong statement to protest the brutal murder of 13-year-old Rajalakshmi. "Other than a few media reports, this gruesome killing has not caught national attention despite a very vibrant #MeToo campaign currently underway", regrets D'souza.