?MY MY? for Lalu, nation for Nitish
A hurricane that blew out lantern
By R. Balashankar
Nitish Kumar is the new messiah. Lalu the latest fall guy. The vituperative headlines in the national press said it all. One major English TV channel reporting the Bihar results characterised the Bihar verdict as ?end of Lalu'smisrule?. Oh God! The media headlines proclaim the measure of pent-up anger, suppressed dismay, helplessness and hope the Bihar outcome has unleashed! At last the national angst found an outlet.
No other election in recent memory was so long drawn, boring and lethargic. There was unusually poor coverage in the media during the campaign. And no report, no psephologist said it with certainty that the Lalu raj was coming to an end. For, in the last 15 years Bihar had not given a clear verdict. For the first time, Lalu'sdefeat is so resounding that quietly he retreated into a shell.
As a politician, Nitish is the opposite of Lalu. He is reticent, shy, sober, cultured and well educated. He is a good administrator; he has proved it as Railway Minister in the NDA government. He has had an excellent working relationship with the BJP and he detests controversies. He is clear about his ideological position vis-?-vis the BJP, but he understands, as he says, ?if we had the same ideology why are we in different parties?? But there is a common agenda for governance on which all agree. This level of clarity between the BJP and the JD(U) worked so well?this is the ninth election the two are fighting together?and it was very reassuring to the electorate. The Janata Dal (U) is the oldest ally of the BJP along with the Shiv Sena and the Akali Dal.
Lalu could be defeated because of the incisive campaign and credibility of Nitish Kumar. Well in advance, the BJP had announced that Nitish is the NDA mascot. He has vowed to bring Bihar back on the progress chart, a state where it is possible for good people to live, work and prosper. He is here to put an end to the jungle raj?violence, extortion, kidnapping and administrative apathy.
Nitish Kumar proved the modern day Chanakya. The list of men who fought Lalu, the claimants to the laurels, to the victory stand is long, Vajpayee, Advani, Fernandes, Sharad Yadav, Arun Jaitley, Uma Bharati, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Sushil Modi. These leaders have been untiring and consistent in their campaign to fight and expose Lalu.
Lalu was always on the edges. He never got a convincing mandate. But he was invincible, unbeatable. His media projection was the highest. His fan club was huge. He could dictate terms to anybody. He is boisterous, he is haughty, abusive, and unrepenting. He is lavish and ludicrous. He is domineering and loud. He is pompous, impolite, corrupt and inefficient. He ridiculed at those who demanded governance. He is casteist and communal to the core, but pretends as the protector of secularism. With impunity he humiliated national icons. Respected national leaders like L.K. Advani, George Fernandes and even A.B. Vajpayee were victims of his vulgar sarcasm. He did not spare even the President of India, the Supreme Court and the Election Commission. He was boastfully dismissive about development. He was shameless in promoting family fiefdom. Still, his charmed circle in the media awarded him the sobriquet social revolutionary. He was hailed as the one who empowered the poor Yadavs and the Muslims. It was all a myth propagated by his blind admirers in the secular abode.
The message of Bihar is more for India. Bihar under Lalu had become the haven for all that is decadent, trivial and unacceptable in Indian society. Lalu survived so far on the support of these elements. They are still active.
Remember the brouhaha he created when the NDA government launched the National Highway Programme in Bihar. He told his loyal supporters to oppose it, as it had no use for bullock carts and cattle-grazing. He was opposed to family welfare schemes, total literacy programme, power sector reforms, health care and rule of law. Defying all rules of democracy, he made his whims the law of the state. And his cronies cheered.
Despite all this nobody could stop him. He had the press eating out of his hands. The decline of Lalu had actually begun in 1994, when leaders like Nitish Kumar and Sharad Yadav walked out on him. He lost majority in the March 2001 election. But he survived with the support of the Congress and the Communists. For, that was the Lalu miasma. Even after he lost the February 2005 election the UPA government, the CPM in particular was at his beck and call. In the wake of the last assembly elections even the most optimistic had given up on Bihar. And it was the agonising countdown to Biharisation of the country under the UPA.
The NDA victory in Bihar has changed all that. It'sunprecedented exhilaration everywhere. For the first time in 20 years, the people of Bihar have given a clear verdict. The NDA has 146 members in the 243-member assembly. This underlines the degree of people'sdetermination. The votes came above caste, class and communal divide. The voters discarded divisions of social status and economic wellbeing. It was a vote for change. A vote against ?MY, MY? absurdity. It blew out the lantern. This in itself is significant. The voters of Pataliputra have at last uprooted lock, stock and barrel its modern day Dhananand in a shattering political quake.
To compare Lalu to Dhananand is uncharitable to the memory of the last of the great Nanda dynasty. For Dhananand was generous, scholarly and royal but he represented a decadent culture. Stood in the way of change, prosperity and progress. Lalu courted all forces of darkness. He danced with devils. He personified a civilisational challenge.
Nitish Kumar proved the modern day Chanakya. The list of men who fought Lalu, the claimants to the laurels, to the victory stand is long, Vajpayee, Advani, Fernandes, Sharad Yadav, Arun Jaitley, Uma Bharati, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Sushil Modi. These leaders have been untiring and consistent in their campaign to fight and expose Lalu. The nation is indebted to them. The RSS and the BJP cadre provided the muscle. RSS is the only organisation that is active in social emancipation, flood relief, educational programmes in the state. All others had either given up on Bihar or shared booty with Lalu.
The Election Commission did a splendid job. Perhaps, for the first time since 1980 this election was peaceful. In earlier elections scores of people were killed in election violence. Election had become competition of warlords and mafia gangs. Lalu revelled in the mayhem of broken limbs and bleeding bodies.
Look at the mountain of ill will Lalu had accumulated. The parties in Bihar, even the CPI and the CPI (ML) found him unacceptable despite the tag of secularism. So was the case with Samajwadis and the BSP. Ram Vilas Paswan staked his central ministership because of his dislike for Lalu-Rabri misrule. All the independents and the MLAs elected under LJP banner in March joined hands with Nitish to put an end to Lalu anarchy. All communities, other than the entrenched MY (Muslim-Yadav) deserted Lalu. The Congress had major problems supporting him, and in its unprincipled wavering decimated itself to non-entity. Only the CPM unabashedly enjoyed his company.
This is not to write his political epithet. Lalu is a central minister holding one of the most resourceful portfolios. His 24 MPs constitute the backbone of UPA. His vote share of 31 per cent is still intact. He cannot be counted out. He has a huge mischief potential.
Contained in the Bihar verdict is the resurgent hope for India. The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) at the Centre has in the last 18 months crafted a process of Biharisation of the country, Laluisation of the polity, communalisation of foreign policy, the free run to terrorists, the decaying economy and the callous neglect of national security with the borders becoming porous had all the makings of a Laludom.
Lalu'sdefeat may affect the CPM prospects in West Bengal. The Left Front misrule in West Bengal was Lalu'srole model. The so-called red bastion is crying for development and deliverance. Reds have masterminded the scientific rigging and Lalu was following in their footsteps. If the Election Commission is able to exert the same level of freedom and fairness in West Bengal comrades will find the going tough.
Nitish Kumar with BJP in the saddle is a new dawn for Bihar, for India. The vehemence of the verdict is such; the RJD is only the third largest party with the Congress reduced to single digit, a CPM man to console. The BJP has emerged the second largest party with 58 members behind the 88 member JD(U). A weakened Lalu might be comforting to the Congress, but it will ignore warning from Bihar?the price of keeping bad company at its own peril.