Now that the dust of campaigning, voting, exit polls and actual counting has settled in Bihar, the analysis has begun. BJP, the new Congress, says their leadership will discuss and decide what went wrong. But the writing is very clear on the wall. Provided they care to look and read.
People have rejected the arrogance, the shrill campaign and efforts to polarize on caste and religious lines employed by the NDA. So much so, that even the Shiv Sena is trying to teach a lesson in humility to the BJP! In fact, one view is that Bhagwat’s comment on reservations did no damage, but further polarized the forward castes towards BJP, otherwise, they would have fared even worse.
Enough has been said on cow and beef. Hindus do respect the cow, and support ban on cow slaughter, but how can we dictate what a person eats in the confines of his home, if he has not violated any law.
The novelty of a speaking, gesticulating, peripatetic, aggressive prime minister is wearing out. Biharis still enjoy the smart retorts of Lalu, but the oratory of Modi, reduced to name calling and fault finding during this campaign, was heard patiently only to be rejected by the electorate. His grand gala show with ample hand waving, sweeping gestures and top of the voice exhorting while announcing the Bihar package was not appreciated. The portly Amit Shah, a mediocre at best, has emerged as a master strategist! All the micro management, war rooms and big data could not bring him any laurels. Bihar rejected all the machinations of the BJP/ NDA. The corporatization of an election campaign, with SWOT analysis, targets and objectives, focus areas and employing other business jargon did not bear any fruit. This shows that a lot of social and human element is involved in elections, unlike drawing up the balance sheet of a company.
Talking of SWOT, one threat that the results have thrown up is the oft repeated fear of the return of jungle raj. That is a very real fear, with past experience supporting it. But can Lalu really afford to go back to his old ways? Not if he has learnt his lessons. With the notorious duo of Sadhu and Subhash Yadav reigned in, and the relatively peaceful months of the current JDU-RJD combine, there is hope of better days ahead. There is an apprehension that things may change when RJD joins the government. This will be the real acid test for Nitish. He has to carry on his development agenda, under the “guidance” of Lalu and his RJD. There will be compromises, of course, but unless there is real and visible change for the better, the experiment will fail utterly. Lalu may want to play the remote control through his young sons or other cohorts, but Nitish must resist any inappropriate demands. Lalu must also show political sagacity by forgetting caste politics and give development and improvement of law & order another chance. This is essential not only for his survival (and Nitish’s), but also for the future of Bihar.
Another question remains – what is the future of the Bihar package? Can the central government afford to deny or delay it? Probably not, if they are looking at improving their chances at future hustings. But there will be a lot of politics, and allegations, counter allegations regarding the release and utilization of funds. The centre will make all efforts to make Nitish’s life troublesome (like Arvind Kejriwal). But Nitish and Lalu have seen it all and hopefully, will tide over such petty politics with their political acumen. I hope and pray that this experiment succeeds and we march towards progress and prosperity. The next five years must demonstrate to the world that Bihar rejects communalism, can work peacefully with caste combinations, and wants peace, social justice, education, progress and development. Show true “sab ka sath, sab ka vikas” (even though that is BJP’s slogan!).