The way the media treated NDA triumph
How did the media treated Lalu Prasad Yadav'swell-merited defeat in the elections held in November to the State Legislative Assembly?
Consider these headlines: LALU'sVOTERLOO, TIGER's ROUT ( The Times of India, November 23). Forget the second part of the heading which referred to the Shiv Sena'srout in Malvan. Headlined Asian Age: LALU LOSES, BIHAR WINS. The Free Press Journal carried the headline: FIEFDOM ENDS. The Indian Express put it this way: BIHAR SWEEPS LALOO OUT. Hindustan Times was a little unclear when it headed its report with just one word: LANDSLIDES. In the Malvan elections it sure was a landslide victory for Rane.
DNA, the newest entrant to Mumbai'smedia was more explicit. Its headline said: BIHAR PUTS OUT LALU'sLANTERN. The lantern was also very much in the mind of some other newspapers like the Deccan Herald which carried the headline: NDA BLOWS OUT RJD LANTERN. Lalu'slantern figures in some other headlines as well. The Telegraph headline was: NITISH LOCK ON LALU.
The headlines notwithstanding the editorials clearly showed that Lalu has no friends. ?Neither the exit polls nor reports emerging from the field captured the scale of voter dissatisfaction with what, in the final months, came to be seen as the Lalu-Buta regime? noted The Hindu. The paper identified two factors that contributed to Lalu Prasad'sfailure. The first was the perception that Lalu was a ?proxy ruler who manipulated the Raj Bhavan and refused to play fair?. The second factor was ?the Union government'smidnight decision to dissolve the House?. The Supreme Court'sverdict, said the paper, holding this act to be unconstitutional ?sealed Mr Prasad'sfate?.
The Hyderabad-based Deccan Chronicle said the Bihar Assembly election results ?were as much a manifestation of people'sdisillusionment with the RJD as a reflection of their hopes from Nitish Kumar?. Pointing out that Nitish Kumar ?will have to sweep the state clean of the mess that has accumulated over the years?, the paper said that ?since by extinguishing the RJD's?lantern? he should ensure that Patna and other parts of Bihar have adequate electricity? but added that his ?top priority should be to establish the rule of law?. ?The escalation in organised crimes like kidnappings and murders have made life hell for the people? said the paper.
Pointing out that Nitish Kumar ?will have to sweep the state clean of the mess that has accumulated over the years?, the paper said that ?since by extinguishing the RJD's?lantern? he should ensure that Patna and other parts of Bihar have adequate electricity? but added that his ?top priority should be to establish the rule of law?.
The Kolkata-based The Telegraph did not condemn Laloo Prasad as much as it blamed what it called the ?division of the secular vote?. ?If all the UPA partners and their communist supporters fought the polls together, they would have been ahead of the NDA…whose share of the votes was a little over 35 per cent.? Said the paper, practically exonerating the heinous and corrupt government of the Lalu Prasad government: ?It was not the Congress'sfault that Prasad and Mr Paswan, Ministers in the UPA government, became sworn enemies in Bihar. The Congress could do little to prevent the two communist parties from going their separate ways in Bihar. But if the Bihar battle exposed the UPA'sdisunity, it could also serve as its wake-up call.?
Hindustan Times said ?the writing on the wall was up from the time a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court held that the presidential order to dissolve the Bihar Assembly earlier this year was unconstitutional. By refusing to allow the Janata Dal(U)-BJP alliance a chance to form a government at that time, the Central government and the Governor provoked the wrath of the Supreme Court, as well as that of the people.? And it added: ?But the killer punch was the manner in which the Election Commission and its advisor, K.J.Rao, ran Bihar'scleanest and least bloody election in decades.?
The Indian Express thought that a ?defeat is some times a good opportunity in politics? and suggested that the Congress in UPA ?change its protection mission? and take Paswan ?out of what are among the two most critical economic remits, Steel and Pharmaceuticals?. Politically said the paper, ?this will be a good decision because the Bihar mandate can'treally be explained by Paswan ?fracturing? the ?secular? vote.? In any case, said the paper, ?the logical time to sack Ministers for anti-coalition activities is before elections, not after.?
The Asian Age said that ?by delivering a decisive verdict this time. The Bihar electorate has made handsome amends for the uncertainties and political instability resulting from its February performance.? The paper said that ?the Lok Janashakti Party leader, Ram Vilas Paswan, has had to pay a heavy price for his dog-in-the-manger politics? and that ?the fragmentation of the MY (Muslim-Yadav) vote has benefitted both the JD(U) and the BJP equally, the latter more so since it wisely jettisoned Hindutva as a campaign slogan largely in deference to the JD(U)'sproclaimed chief ministerial candidate.?
The Bangalore-based Deccan Herald while noting that the JD(U)-BJP combine has not only inflicted a humiliating defeat on the RJD-led alliance, but also improved substantially on its performance in February? also pointed out ?the verdict in the election is a vote against RJD'spoor governance of Bihar?. The paper said that ?the verdict in the election is a vote against the RJD'spoor governance of Bihar…that has become synonymous with crime and corruption.? And it added: ?This time, Bihar'svoters have sent out an unambiguous message. They have not only voted out the RJD but also expressed clear support for the JD(U)-BJP alliance.? ?Never underestimate the intelligence of the Indian voter. Lalu Prasad Yadav did and look where he has ended up? noted The Free Press Journal.
Said the paper noted for its frank expressions: ?The resounding drubbing the long-neglected voter of Bihar administered by (Laloo Prasad) and his great ally, the Congress Party, ought to be a lesson to all power-drunk politicians who rely on empty sloganeering to hoodwink the people.?
Lalu, said the paper, ?fully deserved this crushing defeat? asserting that ?even the unwashed Indian masses can see through the miasma of lies, subterfuges and downright deceits created by unabashedly opportunistic leaders like Lalu Yadav?.
Writing in The Asian Age (November 24), Dr P.C.Alexander drew several lessons, among which is the need to appoint a strong Election Commission to monitor elections (as was done in Bihar) and to remember that ?exclusive reliance on some castes and communities alone is no more a guarantee for votes?.
Dr Alexander also drew attention to ?a special lesson?, to the mistake made by the Central Government in forcing a new election, which he said was a ?self-inflicted wound?. For going against the Supreme Court'sdecision, the UPA paid a big price for its folly.
Almost all newspapers were agree that Nitish Kumar now faces an uphill task. Importantly, much sympathy awaits him in his task of cleansing Bihar politics of its dirt.