by Tripada Bharati
Though it was hardly a surprise, the recently concluded Bihar elections trumpeted victory of the Nitish-Lalu alliance, while the BJP and allies were reduced to rags.
Much like Delhi assembly elections held the same year.
Questions are being asked from the progressive, educated, relatively well off middle class about how gainful the results are for the Biharis who voted generously. While Liberals have their own reasons to cheer, do the masses have any reason to dance in joy for Nitish-Lalu?
The answer seems a plausible YES and a plausible NO. Let me explain how.
There is no doubt that a breeze of change has blown over Bihar since became the Chief Minister of Bihar in the year 2005. The law and order situation, a major challenge, has significantly improved. Schemes and policies empowering women were delivered to women without any delay and Bihari women vouch for this till date. Hardly a surprise then, that votes by women consolidated in favour of Nitish Kumar. Reports in print and visual media confirm that conditions of roads and electricity significantly improved during Kumar’s two straight terms.
But what led to the negative image of Nitish Kumar, were some of his political maneuvers; like the elevation of Jitan Ram Manjhi to the post of CM, and removing him later on, leading to a huge rattle and crackle across the political arena. We all know that these political stunts are quickly forgotten by the masses whose chief element determining their votes are the actual work done by the government at ground level.
This is not to say that caste politics in Bihar is a matter of yesteryears. Certainly not!
It has played a grand role in the grand victory of the Grand Alliance. Besides, there is no denying the fact that Lalu got a sanjeevani (life) by accepting Nitish as the face of the Grand Alliance. His nearly depleted vote bank of ‘backward and marginalized’ once again galvanized, turning the wind in his favour.
Having been out of power for almost a decade, there is reason enough to believe that Lalu has to change his ways for staying relevant in the current political scenario. Moreover the executive command in the hands of Nitish is a sign of relief for many. If they are indeed serious about playing a national role in the coming years, Nitish has to ensure that his development agenda does not get derailed. So, Yes! We may hope for a developing and progressive Bihar.
Now turning to the other side of it, what if Biharis have made a fool of themselves by believing in the Lalu-Nitish duo? The chances are high, given the dark times Bihar suffered under the Lalu regime. How much ever Lalu empowered backwards socially, he failed miserably in terms of economic empowerment. His long tenure of almost 15 years reeked of corruption and bad governance.
So the fears of jungleraaj are not totally unwarranted. Having a bigger seat share allows Lalu a lot of clout in the government. But it is too early to say anything about the return of Jungle Raj. People have certainly voted for development and good governance promised by Nitish Kumar.
Only time will tell if the hopes of masses are realized, or dismissed!