The resignation of Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, his ending the Mahagathbandhan with Lalu Prasad Yadav’s RJD and the Congress party was not entirely unexpected. It seems to have been in the offing for some time. I am not totally surprised by it.
Nitish’s resignation should be understood as a trade-off between communalism and corruption. It is true that he walked out in dramatic fashion from the NDA in 2013, pointing fingers at Narendra Modi. But the truth is that the anti-communalism constituency has been expanding in recent decades — since 1989, when Bofors triggered a change in government at the centre – because the secular constituency defended the corrupt.
The classic example is the UPA’s second term when Dr Manmohan Singh himself was very honest, but there were allegations of corruption against several of his ministers.
The truth is that the expansion of the anti-secular constituency has to be reversed in the context of Bihar. The BJP is in ascendancy and trying to steal the thunder of the Mahagathbandhan. Nitish had to change that. But there was stubborn resistance to change.
In the minds of the people, communalism is not a tangible thing, it doesn’t affect day to day affairs of people. But corruption does. Unlike in earlier times when the fodder scam against Lalu Yadav was seen as politically driven, many people this time around believe that Lalu Yadav is himself responsible for shielding his son. This had become a critical issue of the Mahagathbandhan.
The principle of fighting corruption is important. If you don’t fight corruption, then you are enabling the constituency of communalism to expand. But remember that during the 17 years of the NDA, Nitish Kumar did not allow even one communal riot to take place in Bihar.
Nitish Kumar has been trying to influence the Congress for some time, but he could not create a situation which forced them to force Lalu’s son Tejaswi to resign. By allying with the BJP, Nitish Kumar has succeeded in dismantling the Mahagathbandhan and stealing the thunder of the BJP.
(As told to Jyoti Malhotra)