On the ashes of the Mahagathbandhan, a son rise

Unlike some commentators who would want to believe that Opposition unity has been severely jolted, we are of the view that Nitish Kumar’s departure is good riddance. Moreover, you cannot cement a greater association with a snake in your bosom.

Written by Manoj Kumar Jha | Updated: August 2, 2017 11:25 am
nitish kumar, nitish kumar press conference, bihar, bihar chief minister, grand alliance, mahagathbandhan, rjd, tejashwi yadav, lalu yaDAV, corruption Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

‘False face must hide what the false heart doth know’ is the last line of the very first act in Macbeth. I wish to begin from here in order to reveal the background of events which culminated in the shameless robbery last week of the Bihar mandate of 2015.

As things appear today, you do not require to know the intricacies of rocket science to know that it was never about the resignation of Tejashwi Yadav, former deputy chief minister in Nitish Kumar’s former cabinet. Nitish himself declared at the beginning that he never sought his resignation in view of a FIR on him in a virtually imagined case of quid pro quo. When the former deputy CM met the Mahagathbandhan’s former CM last week, the latter was very categorical that he should not resign just because a section of the media and the BJP so desired it.

I do not wish to go into the detail of what subsequently happened under cover of the high moral ground. Political observers have easily sensed that Nitish was simply enacting a script written at the BJP headquarters on 11, Ashok Road, New Delhi. Many journalists were not able to make out whether his resignation came first or the congratulatory tweet from the Prime Minister for his resignation. Congress sources also recalled how he suddenly extended support to the presidential candidate of the NDA without bothering to inform alliance partners who had chosen him chief minister.

Right from the time of demonetisation when he openly supported the BJP or maintained a studied silence, we in the RJD had an inkling that things were not so fine with Nitish Kumar’s politics, but we upheld the decorum of the alliance. This is because we were accountable to the subalterns who had voted for this alliance at a historical moment when the BJP under Modi appeared invincible. However, we did not realise that Nitish Kumar was committed to the greatest act of treachery in the recent memory of the nation, which is why within a span of 33 minutes he was transformed from the leader of the Mahagathbadhan to the leader of the NDA.

Somebody rightly commented that he borrowed the idea of portability from the telecom sector, meaning, to keep the chair one only needs to change the service provider (alliance partners).

In fact the slogan, ‘Tejashwi to bahana tha, Bhajpa mein jaana tha’ (Tejashwi was just an excuse, he already had made up his mind to go with BJP) captures the essence of Nitish Kumar’s political opportunism. The governor also took the decision in haste and with a visibly partisan approach; he was probably asked to do so, so as to checkmate the resentment within the JD(U).

As a result when the RJD delegation met the governor and requested to him take the decision in view of the S.R. Bommai judgement of 1994, the governor was conspicuously silent. The only sentence he could utter was, “aap logon ne thodi der kar di (you all are little too late).”

But like with every crisis, a star is born. In this case, speaking on the confidence motion brought by Nitish Kumar as CM of the NDA on July 28, the newly elected leader of the Opposition, Tejashwi Yadav, tore into his politics of opportunism and exposed the “lies” that Nitish Kumar had touted as reasons for breaking the alliance. He spoke about the absolute lack of morality and principled position in his politics and reminded the members that he either needs the BJP or the RJD to remain in the chair.

Tejashwi also reminded Nitish of his call for Sangh-Mukt Bharat (India free of RSS philosophy) and asked how he had moved so swiftly from the camp of ‘Hey Ram’ (Gandhi) to the gang of ‘Jai Shri Ram’. He provided evidence of the JD(U) leader’s political manoeuvrings and frequent u-turns to the applause of the House. He told lawmakers that what Nitish did was nothing but the murder of democracy and by doing so had indulged in a brazen act of betrayal of the poor and the downtrodden who had voted for the alliance.

Tejashwi’s powerful oratory skills and punch-lines made several members of the BJP, JD-U acknowledge that “a leader is born” in Bihar. Perhaps this break-up is a blessing in disguise for the young RJD leader who seems to have come into his own, out of his father’s shadow, able to espouse the concerns of the backward castes, Dalits as well as minorities, alongside progressive section of the upper castes.

While the RJD is committed to walking the political trajectory for larger opposition unity, it has also decided to take the “robbery” of the mandate across Bihar. Tejashwi Yadav has decided to begin a Padyatra from Champaran, so he can tell the people how Nitish Kumar has betrayed the memory of Bapu in the middle of Bihar’s celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the Champaran satyagraha.

The RJD has been saying since July 27 that every mandate has a character and no political party should have the audacity to deceive voters. Everyone remembers what RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said about abolishing reservation in jobs during Bihar polls and how his comments had galvanised the Dalits-Mahadalits and the Backwards-Extremely Backward sections. To each constituency that party president Lalu Prasad Yadav travelled, he talked about former RSS supremo Golwalkar’s Bunch of Thoughts, in which the same denigratory remarks are made against the SCs and the backward castes.

Thus the Bihar 2015 mandate was decisively against the political philosophy of the RSS and BJP.

This too shall pass. I know it will. As I write this article, senior JD(U) leader and former cabinet minister Sharad Yadav has shown his displeasure with Nitish Kumar’s decision. Perhaps a new phase in opposition unity will begin now. Sharad ji’s presence, together with Behenji Mayawati and several other Opposition leaders on the August 27 rally shall be the foundation on which we will develop an alternative narrative so that the people of India get a choice to contest the right-wing authoritarian postures of the BJP.

Unlike some commentators who would want to believe that Opposition unity has been severely jolted, we are of the view that Nitish Kumar’s departure is good riddance. Moreover, you cannot cement a greater association with a snake in your bosom. The road ahead is clear to us, even if it is a long and tortuous one.

Manoj Kumar Jha is the national spokesperson of the Rashtriya Janata Dal

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