To resaffronise or not
It’s been more than a month since Sushil Modi, former Deputy chief minister of Bihar and one time close associate and confidant of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has been targeting Bihar’s strongman Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) president Lalu Prasad and his family members in some unconfirmed corruption cases, including one on the current deputy chief minister Tejashwai Prasad Yadav, the younger and brighter of Lalu’s two siblings. The older one also a minister in Nitish’ cabinet is evidently a simpleton who could easily be tackled by a smart Nitish.
It is evident that the whole attempt, and it is now out in the open, is to somehow break the grand alliance of RJD, Congress and the JD-U, very thoughtfully and carefully soldered by Lalu, Sonia and the wily nily Nitish himself. Nitish and his party have been slyly making discreet noises about being uncomfortable with the presence of a tainted “corrupt” Tejashwai in the government of Mr. Clean Nitish Kumar.
There is simultaneously surreptitious attempt to impress upon another simpleton Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi to the vice of corruption and therefore back Nitish to break this alliance with Lalu. If we go by sheer numbers it is not difficult for Nitish Kumar to go back to NDA and form one more government with Sushil Modi , Ram Vilas Paswan, Jitan Ram Manjhi and assorted right wing elements in Bihar. After all for 17 years they were together and Nitish won a couple of Lok Sabha and assembly elections as a member of the saffron brigade and as Sushil Modi recently stated “Nitish was always comfortable with BJP.”
In the early 1990s before Nitish Kumar walked out of Janata Dal with George Fernandes, who was actually a victim of Nitish’s conspiracy, and many of us pro Mandal journalists swore by Nitish’ commitment to social justice and secularism, one day Uma Bharti, who in her private conversations is a very honest and straight person, mocked us saying, “You don’t know Nitish Kumar, he was offering me Nalanda seat saying that will be a safe seat for me because of overwhelming population of Kurmis who have no aversion to the BJP.” We never bothered to go back and cross check with Nitish because we didn’t believe Uma then. But her remark keeps echoing in my mind every time Nitish Kumar snuggles upto the BJP on one pretext or the other.
Was Lalu Yadav not tainted when Nitish Kumar broke his alliance with the BJP and aligned with Lalu’s RJD? Hadn’t Lalu been disqualified for six years from contesting any elections by the court when Nitish decided to go and embrace Lalu? Wasn’t Lalu facing corruption charges when the two, together with another “corrupt” Sonia Gandhi decided to form a Grand Alliance in 2015 assembly elections and form a coalition government with Nitish heading it even though RJD is currently the largest party in Bihar assembly?
When Nitish made Tejashwai Yadav his Deputy Chief Minister, wasn’t he aware of the memorandum his confidant Rajiv Ranjan Singh ‘Lalan’ had submitted way back in 2010 to the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh against his bête noire Lalu Yadav? Of course he was and we are not discussing that at the time of the alleged corruption act committed by Tejashwi he was merely 11 year old studying in a school in Delhi and therefore under the law of the land he is not liable of committing any crime, even if we accept the current set of allegations true. If at all it can be Lalu Yadav. But what purpose would be served targeting Lalu who is already incarcerated. So now turn the guns on the brighter of Lalu’s siblings Tejashwi and Misa Devi, a Rajya Sabha MP now.
The entire political class in Bihar knows that soon after the formation of this government BJP general secretary Bhupendra Yadav was given the charge of Bihar and curiously stressing his caste antecedents, he was meeting Rabri Devi and Misa Devi very frequently. Grapevine has it that he was persuading Lalu’s family members to break the Mahagathbandhan. In turn the offer was to go slow on Lalu’s cases, and make Tejashwi the chief minister. It is said that Lalu put his foot down and refused to bite the bait. Whatever may be the truth in that, but it is evident that once Bhupendra Yadav mission failed Sushil Modi was pulled out from the attic, brushed and wiped to present him once more as a great crusader against corruption and shaming Mr. Clean Nitish Kumar for tolerating a corrupt Tejashwi in his cabinet.
But the moot question is why has Nitish and when did Nitish Kumar wake up to the so called corruption of Lalu and his family members? Actually this was no sudden development if we examine how slowly Nitish Kumar was drifting back to the BJP. First he came up with the corrupt and tyrannical drastic act of putting a blanket ban on the very existence of alcohol in Bihar and impose the severest penalty on not just buying, selling or possessing liquor but even punish the family members and neighbours of anyone consuming alcohol.
Nitish is no spring chicken to be blind to the parallel economy of bootlegging and black money running in Gujarat for several decades and the politicians including naturally Modi getting a fair share of that wealth which they spend lavishly on their elections. He also knows why his friend Nara Chandrababu Naidu withdrew total prohibition in Andhra Pradesh imposed earlier by TDP icon N T Rama Rao because it was creating social and economic havoc in Andhra Pradesh. A progressive political force like the Left Front relaxed the harsh norms imposed by its predecessor the UDF in Kerala banning liquor to discourage bootlegging.
Next Nitish Kumar went and supported demonetization and todate has not expressed a word of regret or sympathy for the hundreds of poor and needy people who died and thousands of helpless people who suffered due to this cruel act of Modi.
Next in line is his enthusiastic support for Ramnath Kovind, Modi/Amit Shah’s Presidential candidate, whose political record as a Sanghi apologist is nothing to talk about. Capitalising on this drift of Nitish, the BJP is working assiduously on him and there is every reason to believe they may succeed sooner than later. But this only shows that there is only one thing the BJP and Modi fear—Opposition unity and how desperate they are to break that unity for whatever it is worth.
Shouldn’t that be a lesson for the likes of Nitish, Navin Patnaik and Mulayam Singh Yadav. But that would only be if they don’t have enough skeletons in their cupboards too and not fear Modi showing them their dossiers.
Again hats off to Lalu for withstanding all such threats, knowing full well that sending not just him but his whole family may not be just an empty threat from Modi. Now let us see if he buckles in and calls off his August 27 rally or will Modi put him and Tejashwi behind bars before that?