“It took barely 36 hours for one of the biggest political U-turns to be taken to its successful conclusion. Operation Bihar was the political equivalent of Hitler’s 1940 Blitzkrieg and Israel’s success in the Six-Day War in 1967.” This profoundly insightful observation on the recent political coup in Bihar has come from leading BJP intellectual and Rajya Sabha member Swapan Dasgupta. Writing in the Times of India (30 July, 2017) on the implications of the Bihar developments, Dasgupta has marvelled at the ‘killer instinct’ of the BJP and especially the ‘operational finesse’ of the Modi-Shah duo.
Of late, the BJP has been demonstrating this ‘killer instinct’ quite often. The way the Party grabbed power in Goa and Manipur – the party was voted out in Goa and fell far short of the majority mark in Manipur – bore ample testimony to this killer instinct and operational finesse only the other day. In Bihar, the party worked relentlessly to break Nitish Kumar’s renewed alliance with Lalu Prasad’s RJD and the Congress and once the ground was ready it swooped down on the opportunity to effect the coup with surgical speed and precision. Nitish Kumar tendered his resignation on 26 July evening and next morning he was sworn in again as the head of a resurrected JDU-BJP coalition with Sushil Modi as his deputy.
The script of course needed a peg and the Tejaswi Yadav episode served that purpose. Nitish Kumar and his intellectual acolytes and propagandists want the world to treat this peg as the key plot and rationalise his opportunist capitulation to the BJP as a crusade against corruption. But has not Nitish Kumar’s reign in Bihar since 2005 also been marked by extensive corruption and nepotism? From the 11,000 crore treasury scam and the BIADA land allotment scam during his previous term to the Toppers scam and BSSC scam in the ongoing term, major cases of corruption affecting millions of common people and the education and employment prospects of an entire generation of students and youths have come to light and Nitish Kumar has remained largely silent and evasive on all these issues.
If teaming up with Lalu Prasad is to be seen as an endorsement of corruption, then Nitish must answer as to why he did this in 2015. If communalism is indeed no big deal, then he needs to answer as to why he broke with the BJP in 2013. If RSS and Modi do not pose any grave threat to the country, then why on earth did he call for a ‘Sangh-mukt Bharat’ (Sangh-free India) from Modi’s Varanasi after winning the Bihar elections in 2015? The only explanation for his sequence of somersaults since the 1990s has been his relentless pursuit of power, and it remains to be known why exactly he chose this moment to cross over to the NDA fold where he can only survive at the mercy of the BJP.
There was no threat to Nitish Kumar’s government in Bihar, and if indeed it was a question of getting Tejaswi Yadav to resign, Nitish Kumar had all the means at his disposal to persuade the RJD and the alliance to come up with an alternative choice. Of course those who believe that the launching of the CBI investigation merited the resignation of Tejaswi Yadav will have to explain how someone like Uma Bharti, who has been chargesheeted by the CBI, remains a Union minister and how leaders with charges of murder, instigation of severe hate crimes, and various economic and other offences to their names hold ministerial positions in one BJP government after another. If indeed Nitish Kumar found his alliance partners too incompatible to work with, he could and should have called for dissolution of the Assembly and early elections for a fresh mandate. Instead, by letting the BJP grab power in Bihar against the express direction of the 2015 verdict, Nitish Kumar has committed an act of unpardonable betrayal of the people of Bihar. The people must now get ready to give a fitting rebuff to the illegitimate BJP-JDU regime.
For the BJP the goal was to get back in power in Bihar by hook or crook (we are truly grateful to Swapan Dasgupta’s sense of history to provide the apt analogies with Hitler and Israel) and for Nitish Kumar the point was to migrate to the NDA (time will reveal the compulsion or calculation behind this move right at this juncture). Nitish Kumar now tells us that Modi is unstoppable and invincible. If that is the reason why he has chosen to surrender before the Modi-Shah duo, it shows the utter hollowness of his politics. And all those liberals who saw Nitish Kumar as a promising alternative to Modi till yesterday, and are now busy dismissing ‘secularism’ as a non-issue only serve to highlight the crucial role of political courage and ideological conviction in facing up to the fascist offensive.
Nitish Kumar may still be numerically bigger than the BJP in the Assembly, but he has emerged hugely diminished in political terms. Effectively speaking, his government will now be a puppet regime manipulated by Narendra Modi and the Sangh-BJP establishment. Those who attributed the relevance and strength of the 2015 Bihar mandate only to the coming together of Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar are bound to feel demoralised. But the fighting people of Bihar who had so emphatically rejected the Sangh-BJP agenda in 2015 will surely intensify the battle against the BJP’s aggression and confront the illegitimate BJP-JDU regime with all their might. When the beneficiaries of the mandate have turned out to be traitors, it is for the people to reclaim the verdict and uphold the banner of democracy and people’s power.