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.
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Senior Gandhinagar-based journalist, RK Misra’s blogs can be accessed at http://wordsmithsandnewsplumbers.blogspot.in

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