Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October15 condemned the rabble-rousing by the fringe elements on issues like Dadri lynching and Pakistani singer Ghulam Ali’ out that it was unfair to blame the Centre for them. It took him more than a fortnight to speak on Mohammad Akhlaq’s lynching.
Soon after Modi’s opening up, the BJP and RSS swung into action to control the damage in Bihar. Party president Amit Shah summoned motor-mouthslike Haryana chief minister ML Khattar, Union minister Sanjeev Balyan, party MP from Unnao Sakshi Maharaj and Uttar Pradesh MLA Sangeet Som to the party headquarters and “reprimanded” them up for “making unnecessary inflammatory remarks,” by the time Modi and Shah shifted to damage control mode, two phases of elections in Bihar had already been held.
It is possible that the BJP might have fared better had they taken the midway course correction much earlier. There are chances that these efforts, coming a bit too late in the day, may not have the desired impact on the remaining three phases of elections either. Bihar will be the greatest loser if the BJP loses but it may be a boon in disguise for the nation.
Let us discuss the impact of BJP’s defeat in Bihar. RJD’s utter misrule of Bihar for 15 years from 1990 – first under Lalu Prasad and then his wife Rabri Devi after he was jailed in the infamous fodder scam – are well known. In his election rallies, Modi may have repeated umpteen times that there was “Jungle Raj in Bihar” during RJD’s rule but it was none other than the Patna High Court which had made this observation for the first time in 1997. Bihar saw asemblance of development for about seven years from 2005 to June 2013 till JD(U) and BJP together ruled the state together under Nitish Kumar. However, the state has again started slipping back to the jungle raj days ever since Nitish walked away from the alliance and joined hands with Lalu.
The Yadav strongman is known not only for corruption and promoting crime in the state but also for his regressive politics, based on caste and communalism. He panders mostly to Yadav and Muslim vote banks. And he openly said so during the Swabhiman Rally in Patna on September 30. He escaped law at that point in time because the model code of conduct (MCC) was not in force. But now, the Election Commission has sent notices to him for making speeches violative of MCC.
Once the Grand Alliance comes to power, Lalu will certainly dominate it and extract his pound of flesh. Though Nitish would be the chief minister, Lalu would run the government by proxy. He has already claimed that both his sons would be cabinet ministers and would run the government.
Debuting in these elections, his sons Tej Pratap Yadav and Tejaswi Yadav are contesting contest from Yadav-dominated Mahua and Raghopur seats respectively. Hence, the kind of rule Bihar will witness for the next five years can well be imagined.
BJP’s earlier agenda Godse Mandir, Genocide of Muslims, Inflammation, Dal 210, Onions 70, Electricity is now 5Rs. Per unit from 2.2, Beef Bangs, every housewife is calling Modi’s name, yet Lalu in Bihar would be Wolf in Henhpouse.
Nothing can be worse for Bihar than a defeat for the BJP-led NDA. However, it will also serve as a god send for the nation. A drubbing in Bihar will have a sobering impact on the BJP. It will realise that letting the rabble rousers have a free run does not help. While the fringe elements have started taking law into their own hands and indulging in violence, party leaders like Union ministers Mahesh Sharma and Sanjeev Baliyan, Haryana chief minister ML Khattar, MP Sakshi Maharaj, Uttar Pradesh MLA Sangeet Som and others are making controversial and provoking statements.
Also , its ally – the Shiv Sena – is holding the government in Maharashtra to ransom. While all these things are happening, the BJP is seen looking the other way.
Modi came out in the open over the contentious issues quite late in the day. But one would only wish he shows promptness in presenting his side of the view. Any silence on his part not only dents his image and that of the country but also harms the BJP. For instance, Modi tried his best to restrict the political discourse for the ongoing Bihar Assembly elections to developmental and governance issues. He himself had digressed in the initial laps of his Parivartan rallies by launching personal attacks on Nitish but finally was successful in steering the discourse away from personal barbs.
The PM has been trying hard to attract investment in India and push developmental projects. He has also been seen trying to improve ties or strengthening them with several countries. However, all his efforts are being negated by the uncharitable acts and remarks by the fringe elements, his ministerial colleagues, party leaders and an alliance partner like the Shiv Sena.
A defeat in Bihar will teach the BJP a lesson and force it to plunge in the forthcoming Assembly elections by talking just development, the plank on which Modi rode to power at the Centre. But it has also led to a dilemma for the voters in Bihar – whether or not to vote for the BJP. A win for the party will be good for the state but it will may further embolden the bigots to derail the development agenda.
Nitish’s voters too face the same dilemma – whether or not to vote for him. Nitish’s “Sushasanbabu” image does attract them but the spectre of Lalu’s “Jungle Raj” drives them away.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are personal, and it is not to offend anybody.
(Author is an Export Entrepreneur, Journalist, Engineer and Social Activist Against Animal …
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