The congress’ game plan in Bihar politics
Vivekanand Jha, author and a public intellectual
Will Madan Mohan Jha’s taking over as the president of the Bihar Congress Party and Akhilesh Prasad Singh as the head of the campaign committee, ensure the massive swinges of forward caste votes in favour of Congress in 2019 general election? Although there is no guarantee for the same, yet Rahul’s meticulously planned strategy to fill up the Bihar Congress leadership with an overwhelming number of forward caste leaders, is a surer indication that Congress is destined to capitalise on the disenchanted voters from the upper castes who have been feeling neglected for quite some time, with BJP showing only a tokenism of appreciation for its concerns, while ostensibly following the policy of appeasement of Dalits, left the upper castes by and large alienated from it, especially in the wake of the Modi government overturning the Supreme court’s judgment on ST/SC act, 1989, which repealed the provision of arrest of the upper caste accused in the event of an FIR being filed against him without an enquiry.
In the last Plenary session of AICCI, this writer was pleasantly surprised to see the photographs of Madan Mohan Jha standing beside Manmohan Singh on one side and Sonia Gandho on the other. Although Madan Mohan Jha, son of powerful Mithila leader, Late Nagendra Jha, has a rich pedigree, which is construed as a vital credential for the elevation in the party hieracrchy, which covets the direct descendants of the political families, Madan Mohan Jha’s hobnobbing with the top notch leadership of the Congress party and, that too, on the dais, was indeed baffling for this writer, as Madan Mohan is usually known for not being a powerful speaker on stage. This writer had already witnessed a living commentary of Madan Mohan’s reluctance to deliver a speech from the podium during the book launch of ‘Han , Main Bihari Hoon at Bihar Vidhan Parishad in 2016, where he had exhibited a tremendous sense of trepidation when being asked to speak. However on being pressed by this writer, he had barely spoken for few minutes. Naturally, Madan Mohan’s bursting camaraderie at the stage with the topmost party leaders at the AICC plenary session, presented a very pleasant spectacle for one and all, especially those who know Madan Mohan from close distance. But then this writer guessed that something big was certainly in the offing for the Mithila leader whose lack of communication at the stage is more than overcome by his shrewd political mind, and even shrewder political vision, which got vindicated with Rahul picking him up as the president of the Congress Party. Interestingly, this writer already was given the sufficient indication on the occasion of Bihar DIwas 2018 that Congress Party was going all out with its strategists overwhelmingly concentrating on the strategies to break the forward castes from BJP’s fold, and was already funding smaller groups to do the needful in the given direction.
The news pertaining to Madan Mohan being elevated to the post of the president of the Congress Party, indeed came to this writer as a pleasant surprise, especially given the fact that Brahmins constitute the infinitesimal proportion of the population of the entire state, including Mithila, and therefore, the elevation of a Brahmin as the head of the party which is seeking its resurrection from its moribund stage, was mind boggling, More so, when the greater energy of almost all the political parties, are being channelised towards the appeasement of Dalits, how could Rahul Gandhi who has been cris-crossing the landscape of the country, take such a suicidal step, appeared enignatic, especially in the context of the list of the appointees overwhelmingly dominating from the upper castes? The decision, which appeared bizarre in the context of the contemporary political scenario, was strategically laid out game plan of the Congress Party which strives to encash upon the recent alienation of upper caste voters from BJP, after Modi government’s decision to overturn the apex court’s verdict on SC/ST act 1989, to restore the earlier provision of an accused from upper caste getting arrested without an enquiry in the event of filing of an FIR. Significantly, the Congress’ underlying game plan was to win the vast majority of the upper castes in its favour, when it sought to empower the upper castes in the topmost hierarchy of its leadership in Bihar. But then, how could Congress alienate the majority comprising of Dalits, Maha Dalits, Muslims and others by focussing its overpowering attention in filling up its topmost leadership hierarchy with upper castes, is the moot question that needed proper examination? In fact, behind this shrewd move of Congress, the underlying objective was that, whereas Congress would corner the larger segments of votes of the upper castes, its coalition partner RJD would be able to mobilise the Muslims and Yadavs to enable it to win the election. Whereas this arithmetic permutation and combination of castes, appear a win-win scenario on pen and paper, the reality may be far distinct from it, for the upper castes would not ostensibly vote for any such combination which has the remotest linkages with Laloo’s R.JD, unless something drastic happens which has the potential to shake their existential identities.
Not to be lagging far behind in this race for empowering upper caste leaders, Nitish Kumar immediately elevated Dayanand Ray as the president of JDU in Delhi from Darbhanga. While this one upmanship of empowering the upper caste leaders is in full swinge in Bihar politics, the common men and women are watching this new spectacle with a sense of amusement. For, the mere elevation of upper castes leaders to corner their votes, hardly is a guarantee for empowering the hoi polloi. Yet this new found race for empowering the leaders of the upper castes is a new syndrome in Bihar politics, where upper castes were facing the serious marginalisation, unless the new syndrome overtaking the polity after the upper castes called a Bharat Bandh which invariably evoked a wide response. Thus, this new upper castes awakening has brought about a new sense of empowerment of the leaders from their castes. Madan Mohan Jha and Akhilesh Prasad SIngh, have been the latest beneficiaries, along with others in the Congress Party, in Bihar, among others, But will this radical step bring the Congress the elusive upper caste voes that drifted towards BJP in 90’s, when the upper castes closely identified themselves with the BJP after V.P.Singh implemented Mandal Commission in 1989? Later, Ram Janma Bhoomie movement brought the upper castes even closer to BJP, as the Congress was increasingly getting drifted away from it after its alliance with Laloo’s RJD in Bihar, with Nitish joining hands with BJP, the upper castes solidly stood by BJP as a formidable force to counter Laloo’s R.JD. Nonetheless, the political equation in Bihar will remain by and large unchanged, for the upper castes, no matter how many of them are being elevated to the leadership position of the Congress, still will prefer to remain with BJP, though a smaller proportion of them might still vote for Congress.
Notwithstanding the clever stratagem of the Congress Party to lure the upper caste voters away from BJP, BJP knows the upper castes’ anathema towards the R.J.D and, therefore, the party has not yet shown much of excitement in rewarding the upper castes in its topmost hierarchy, although Mangal Pandey, an upper caste is already holding the position of BJP president of the state for quite sometime. Not to be left far behind, R.J.D is also in the queue for wooing the upper caste voters and consequently the nomination of Manoj Jha, an upper caste Brahmin from Mithila, to Rajya Sabha, is an exemplification of R.J.D reaching out to the upper castes in no uncertain terms. It was a subtle indication to the upper castes that the party will not hesitate from rewarding the upper castes, if they prove their loyalties to the Laloo family. More so, Laloo Yadav himself had issued a comment, which appeared in Twitter, that he sought an apology for his past defamatory comments against the upper castes and that he looks upto the upper castes with the clean slate and without any past baggage. Significantly, it is a new syndrome for the upper castes to be feted by all the parties and, therefore, now it has choices to exercise; it may no more stand solidly behind any political ideology, unless it fees that the given party will seriously cater to its interests. In this given backdrop, although the upper castes by and large will stay with the BJP for this general elecion 2019, they now has a bigger political space which was not available to them in the past. Hence, the upper castes should welcome this new opportunity in the polity, where it can increasingly discover their lost voice and shall assert themselves once again. They should weight their own options before going enmasse for any particular political alliance, and shall not fall for any political party or coalition which subserves their interest to the other numerically powerful segments. The collective upper caste assertion will significantly make them a key player in the vote bank politics, whereas their fragmentation into different sub- groups is the only recipe for their political marginalisation as they have experienced now. It is, therefore, the new dawn for the upper cstes to rejoice as this new prospect of electoral permutation and combination which covets their collective vote bank, will ensure their political empowerment in the days to come.
The trinity of dissidents turned rebels—How their collective fates hang in balance?
Note: This author greets all esteemd intellectuals on the grand occasion of Maha Ashtami today. Let the blessings of motherDurga penetrate every such home which hitherto has not experienced the resplendence of golden rays of sunlight. Let Bharatvarsha once again return to Mauryan glory, where India presides over the desiny of the world as its political, economical and spiritual guru—this is the blessings this writer seeks from mother goddess for our beloved nation on this auspicious day.
The trinity of dissidents turned rebels— How their fates hang in balance?
With Shatrughan Sinha, all set to join Congress or RJD, for contesting the election from Patna Sahib , his fellow co-traveller whom he loves to call Yashwant Bhai, notwithstanding his ravings and rantings at Modi, is destined for embracing poliitcal wildeness in the wake of his exit from BJP. Kirti Azad, despite lying low for a while after unleashing vitriol against Jaitley, now desperately has been seeking reconcilation with the BJP high command, appears today on the horns of dilemma, with betenoir Sanjay Jha, leaving no stone unturned in cosying upto BJP, his erstwhile party, to get its benign blessings for his candidacy for Darbhanaga constituency, is in all likelihood staring at vacuum. Willy nilly the fate of this redoubtable trinity which picked up its gauntlet against Modi government to the rapturous cheers from secualr media and even standing ovation from dynasty, today stand jaded and shattered, with the poliitcal wilderness beckoning them all towards itself.
The latest news of Shatrughan Sinha, putting vermilion on the head of Tejaswi Yadav and decaring his coronation for the future emperor of Bihar, was another sordid drama of so-called Bihari Babu whose political credibility is at an all time low. Shatrughan Sinha, by taking on Prime minister Modi, for his omissions and commissions, has been trying to mobilise the mass opinion against the Prime minister, appears to have lost his little credibility soon after he started his theatrics. In the garb of fulfilling his own personal ambitions. The Bollywood star turned politician, who is well known for his caste bias and his own personal glorification, which always took blind precedence over social and national interest, has been his ingrained habits and personal characteristics. Unfortunately, when the entire nation had paid its glowing tributes to the nation’s yug purush prime minsiter Shri Vajpayee on his demise, Sahtrughan Sinha was nowhere in sight; and, even if he had offered his tributes, perhaps none of the national print media gave weightage to his sentimental and emotional expression. In the hindsight, Shatrughan had never spared anyone in his life: He had targeted the superstar Amitabh Bachchan time and again; however, it was Bachchan’s magnanimity which had often showerd on his fellow colleagues, that he paid a courteous visit to his friend turned critic, when he was recuperating in hospital in Mumbai after the critical operation. Same Shatrughan Sinha had unleashed his tirades against Atal Bihari Vajpayee when the latter was the prime minister, saying, ‘that a cabinet can afford two Brahmins but it hardly has any space for two Lalas’, insinuating in the process, that while Murli Manohar Joshi can juxtapose with the prime minister Vajpayee, Shatrughan Sinha cannot be accommodated along with Yashwant Sinha’. Vajpayee was a generous leader who, keeping in view Shatrughan Sinha’s long term association with BJP, accommodated him as a shipping minsiter in his government then.
But then Modi is no Vajpayee. Shatrughan, perhaps failed to judge that glaring distinction that set Modi apart from Vajpayee. Although his venting frustration brought him the desired dividend in Vajpayee government, Modi is altogether made of different stuffs. He seldom recognises, let alone rewards, those who dare to confront him or the party for personal gratification. Stubborn to the core, Shatrughan had taken cue from Tagore to walk alone if none came in his support when the cause was altruistic; however, poor Shatrughan forgot to note that Tagore had alluded to someone’s daring cause which gathers momenum with the passage of time as the people increasingly identify with it. Little did Shatrughan realise that his rebellion for his self -glorification, will have few and perhaps no takers. Further, Shatrughan failed to align his own personal ambitions with that of the collective aspiration of the masses and, therefore, even today, despite having sounded bugle of his rebellion against prime minister and his government, remains the lone traveller in the path of his vilification campaign against Prime Minister and his cohorts, with his co-traveller fellow brethren Yashwant Sinha giving him company from time to time. Unfortunately, Shatrughan Sinha, failed to read the sign board that his individual agenda, notwithstanding Modi’s detractors lapping him up, will have no genuine takers. And, even Congress Party, realising Shatrughan’s personal ambitions having overtaken his sanity and no public support for his cause, sought to maintain a distance from him. Small wonder the baffled Shatrughan who mistook his personal ambition to challenge Modi’s leadership as mass hysteria against the prime minister, has been running from pillar to post in search of friends. In the process, he had feted Nitish Kumar and dubbed him as the potent challenger to Modi; however, with Nitish joining Modi bandwagon, poor Shatrughan had once again had to scurry for friends who could sympathise with his cause and turn him into a national hero for his cause.
In his frantic pace to look for friends, Shatrghan’s latest discovery is the most corrupt family of Laloo Yadav, whose legendary zeal to preside over the funeral of the last vesiges of governance in Bihar, is an open secret. Now, the same Laloo has been trurned into a saviour of Bihar by Shatrughan, even though Laloo has been cooling his heels in the far distant jail in Ranchi on fodder scam. As if already this is not reprehensible enough, transgressing all the limits of ethics and good sense, Shatrughan had coronated Tejaswi Yadav as the next leader of Bihar under whose leadership Bihar will attain Mauryan glory. Unabashedly, Bihari Babu, even forgot that Tejaswi is already facing series of charges for looting Bihar’s exchequer. But then, how does it matter to the man who once persuaded every single woman from Bihar to abstain from films, but still had little qualms when the time for resisting his own daughter’s overwhelming temptation came to the fore. The so called- self appointed moral guardian of Bihar’s daughters who had a little remorse for sending back scores of young women from Mumbai and counselling them to go back to their state, frustrating their ambitions and dampening their enthusiasm for demonstrating their artistic skills in the tinsel town on the pretext of an act of moral turpitude and physical exploitation, chickeend out to his daughter’s overriding all his thought process and belief system. Ironically, Shatrughan, who never tired from upholding probity in high offices, took little time in undermining it by turning himself into the cheerleader of the most corrupt family in the history of Bihar and even in the nation. For, Shatrughan has no option left, with BJP resolved to deny him the ticket for 2019 general election, he has to join RJD or Congress if he has to successfully contest the election, for despite all his rhetorics and bluffs, he knows his limitations: contesting as an independent will be a sure recipe for an impending disaster. Whereas contesting as an RJD or Congress candidate, will enable him to garner votes of both his community and Yadavs, along with pulling Muslim votes, which collectively can guarantee his success at the hustings.
Darbahnaga, a consituency which is currently held by BJP, where Kirti Azad has been winning for last two terms. The last term he won absolutely because of Modi wave. However, Kirti Azad has displeased and alienated the incumbent leadership of the BJP by picking up the gauntlet against Arun Jatley, accusing him of rampant corruption in Delhi Cricket Control Board, when he presided over the destiny of DCCB. In the process, he seriously fell out of the BJP leadership, and was suspended from the party. Initially, while he anticipated his own martyrdom for a cause which nation held so dear to itself, Kirti went gung ho about it, but soon realised his folly, even anticipating his political harakiri, he sought mending fences with top BJP leadership and, therefore, started praising Modi for his uprightness while continuing his diatribes against Jaitley. Little did Kirti realise that his very gameplan to create a chasm between Modi and Jaitley, will lead him nowhere. And that exactly what happened: Kirti ended up with a suspension order. While Kirti’s dilemma was accentuating, Sanjay Jha, his opponent, who lost against him in 2014, contesting from JDU from Darbhanga, is rejuvenated again to encash upon Kirti’s nemesis. Sanjay, who himself belonged from BJP before he changed sides, is a Jaitley acolite, and has full Jaitley’s backing. But the conundrum is this: Darbhanga is BJP citadel and, therefore, unless the BJP sacrifices the seat in favour of JDU, Sanjay’s dream of getting the seat allocated to JDU, will not attain fruition. Although Sanjay has full backing from Nitish, his biggest concern is: BJP’s sacrificing it in the favour of JDU or else all his dream to won Darbhanga seat will end up as fiasco. Sanjay is not leaving anything to chance. His recent visit to Ahmadabad, where he sought the support of Maithils, especially Dr J.N..Singh, the chief Secretary of Guajrat and a living legend of Mithila, for the ultimate blessings of Shah, the BJP president, is a vindication of the fact that how Sanjay Jha is not leaving any stone unturned in his endeavours to secure Darbhanga seat from BJP’s quota. Even while Sanjay is cris-crossing the landscape of India, Kirti is keeping his hopes alive, as he knows the denial of seat to him by BJP, will leave him nowhere and all his blusters that his in-law’s place being just few kilometers away( Nehra village in Darbhanga) is enough for him to get him votes, irrespective of the party he contests from. For, Kirti knows too well that denial of sea by BJP, tantamounts to writing his political obituary from Darbhanga, especially when his wife Poonam Azad had already joined Congress Party in Delhi and his doing the same is no guarantee for ticket being allotted to him, and even if it is allotted, the victory from Congress ticket is too distant a dream to be accomplished from Darbahnga in 2019.
Yashwant Sinha, an erudite politician is now in no man’s land. His virulent attacks against Modi, has thus far failed to evoke any response from general public, even though his columns and press conferences are forming the building blocks of the national mainstream media like NDTV, Express and Telegraph, the known Modi baiters. Yashwant’s biggest hypocrisy is this: While he publicly poses as the strongest critic of Modi regime, his son basks in the glory of Modi government, being a member of his cabinet. Now, the septugenarian who is just a year away from turning into eighty, has held the flag of revolt aloft, realsing little that all his hypocrisy has no tangible impact in the public domain, for people are no more fools to fall prey to his rebellion voice. His new avatar as the reincarnation of Jai Prakash Narayan, even failed to take off, as people could seldom forget his own involvement in UTI scam which was one of the tiggers for Vajpayee government losing public sympathy in 2004. Also, his Dhritrastra like love for his son cannot escape the public notice. Otherwise, why didn’t he display the courage that was exhibited by the jubilee star Rajendra Kuamr who had the courage and the conviction to disown publicly his son Kumar Gaurav, after the latter had refused to marry Raj Kappor’s daughter. Kumar Gaurav was only allowed to see his father’s dead body as he was expelled from the house. Where is such public declaration, Mr yashwant Sinha, if you really think your son is principally and ideologically wrong, why don’t you publicly dosown him? Yashwant’s all bluff has no credibility in public perception and, therefore, all his crying hoarse over Modi government’s financial profligacy and misgovernance, has no takers. Yashwant Sinha is politically a dead horse now.
Thanks & Regards,
Alas, India would have shed some tears for Professor G.D.Agrawal
Vivekanand Jha pays glowing tributes to Professor G.D.Agrawal for embracing martyrdom for protesting against the degeneration of Ganga into one of the most polluted rivers of the country.
Cry my beloved BharatVarsha, thy has none to mop up your tears, for your cry will cease to awaken your own sons and daughters who are drunk today not with the glorious nectar of oriental priceless treasure, but are overwhelmed with aping the occidental superficiality which has come to define their national characteristics today. This modern India no more prizes upon Bhagiratha’s legendary tapasaya for bringing Ganga on the earth, but laps up scores of such thugs and charlatans who daily pollute and defile her, yet publicly make a great show of their deep reverence for her.
In this boisterous democracy, where the voice of sanity often gets drowned by an overwhelming and an overpowering cacophony of dichotomous voices which creates needless sound and fury; the saner voice of those who dare transcend the mediocrity and think beyond, often ends up as a casualty at the altar of ‘mundaneness’ and ‘pedestrian’ mindset which govern the actions and the emotions of the republic. The death of G.D.Agrawal is the latest episode of a man who dared to think beyond, but ended up without there being listeners to his noble and patriotic cause that he espoused so passionately. Will his sacrifice lend strength to the movement of the purification of Ganga , or his will be another sad saga of a brillaint sacrifice for the national cause which will go unsung and un- mourned in the annals of history of independent India?
The sad death of Mr G.D.Agrawal, in the wake of his hunger strike, which continued for almost one hundred and eleven days, indeed cast a pall of gloom on the right thinking citizens of India, including this writer. Although this writer had no personal acquiantaince with him, yet he knew that this professor of IIT kanpur, was staunchly devoted to the cause of liberating mother Ganga of all her impurities that has come to characterise her in the recent years. Professor G.D.Agrawal, who later became an ascetic, had assumed a new name of Swami Sanand, was on a fast unto death in Matrisadan in Haridwar Ashram, staunchly demanding that river Ganga needed to be given the attention that she all along deserved. He was also the member of the Central Pollution Control Board and, therefore, had a greater stake in ensuring the purification of Ganga on a fire fighting mode. He had placed his list of demands for the same with the union government, and finally embraced death when such demands were not met. In fact, his demands were not something profound but contained the legitimate aspirations of the masses that always intended to see that Ganga stands purified. Although the central government wanted him to withdraw his movement, but his adamancy that he would discuss the issue threadbare with no less than a person of Prime minister’s stature, was simply thwarted. The Prime minister failed to honour his wish and finally he left this world with his mission remaining unaccomplished.
It was not that Mr G.D.Agrawal, an octogenarian, was the first man to have become a martyr at the sacred cause of purifying Ganga. His predecessor for the same cause Nigmanandjee Maharaj, a Maithil too, had sacrificed his life on the same mission. Swami Nigmanad Mahraj reportedly died in controversial circumstances unsung and un-mourned. He was protesting against the sand mafia and construction of various dams on Ganga, which had resulted in the over pollution of the river. Ironically, while Indian media hysterically obsesses itself with bogus and unproductive news of various types pertaining to politicians, the news of the sacrifice of life by Swamy Nigmanand Maharaj was considered too naive to find its due coverage. No wonder the whole episode vindicates the point that in a boisterous and noisy democracy today, the voice of sanity is hardly heard and given due attention that it all along deserves. Interestingly, the media’s obsession with the sleazy news of Ram Rahim and Honeypreet continued for months, with almsot all media–both print as well as electronic—focussing obsessively on that news; however, the media neither had the time and the incentive to even casually cover the news of a little known saint whose determination to lay down his life for the noble cause, hardly resonated with the mainstream media. But then would the national mainstream media ever have given a decent burial to any such news involving Baba Ramdev if he had taken up any such issue with equal intensity? It is worth recalling that how Ramdev’s news of saving his life by disguising as a woman in Ram Lila Maidan during Manmohan Singh regime, formed the central news of all the electronic and print media. The moot question now: Whether Modi government would have allowed the celebrity like Amitabh Bachchan or, Yoga Guru Baba Ramdev or, meditation guru Pudit Shri Shri Ravi Shankar to sacrifice his life on some national cause without being pro-active to save his life?And, even if that amounted to meeting them personally, perhaps prime minister would never have hesitated to meet either of them to pacify him to withdraw their demand. But then G.D.Agrawal was neither of them, nor he had the solid public backing; hence, embracing martyrdom was the solitary option left for him, when the prime minister showed little penachant in meeting him, let alone conceding to his demand in the public interest.
Paradoxically, when some known figure or a celebrity, takes up any issue irrespective of its implication for public good, the media blows it out of proportion; however, even the issue involving the greater public good, if taken up by the lesser mortals, they are outright dismissed as cheap theatrics to grab public attention. A man like Arvind Kejriwal, who is well known for public theatrics, is feted by the media for all his nonsense, yet someone with as bonafide an intention as Professor G.D.Agrawal dies without himself being heard. And that Professor Agrawal insisted to share his technical expertise with the the power that be so that the agonising issue of pollution of Ganga could have been averted, regrettably failed to stir the national consciousness even a bit, is a sad reflection of reality of contemporary times. In a bout of frustration, Professor Agrawal had reported to have said that who would he share his expertise with? In the same vein, he contented whether he would have to share his expertise with the media which, he felt, had no technical competency to covet his ideas and knowledge. Sadly, even if the 1/10th of the crowd which had expressed deep saolidarity with Anna Hazare at Ram Lila Maidain in Delhi, would have stood behind G.D.Agrawal, hopefully he would be still alive today. However in the absence of the pressure group, G.D.Agrawal died without his issue catching the imagination of the public at large. Unfortunately, as Anna Hazare’s movement to cleanse Indian polity of corruption like virus, was opportunistically hijacked by Kejriwal, G.D.Agrawal’s voice too was silenced for ever, with chances of opportunists finally stealing with the limelight in the future.
But, now the moot point is: Will India allow Bhagirath’s legendary penance to bring Ganga for India’s salvation on earth, to die its unnatural death, especially with the passing away of one of its noble soldiers who sincerely thought of reviving the river which has almost reached the pinnacle of its decline? With the saner voices getting choked amidst the growing cacophony which seems to overwhelm the polity in the contemporary times, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the man like G.D.Agrawal, even though dies thousand times, yet the public consciousness cannot be stirred. Regrettably, the hugely purportedly popular voices of Ramdev and even Pundit Ravi Shankar, being conspicuous by their absence in such noble causes like cleansing Ganga, it appears that the basic proplem of purifying Ganga will remain as unsolved as ever. Worse still, the government’s allocation to the tune of thousand of crores of money channelised towards purification of Ganga, has hardly yielded any dividend thus far. The committee of experts, as constituted by Uma Bharti, the erstwhile minister of water resources, for cleansing Ganga, even failed to hold its maiden meeting, the prospect of purifying Ganga appears as remote as it was when the purification drive was initially conceptualised with huge enthusiasm. Significantly, even Prime minister, thus far, has failed to live upto his expectations to revolutionse Ganga the way he had promised to his electorate in Benaras before he formed his government in 2014.
Jagatguru Shankaracharya of Govardhan Math, says, that if you want to weaken any movement, then go for fast unto death, because then the attention of the nation is focussed on the individuals rather than on the movement. Whereas the same cannot be denied, the question does arise that how should one make his voice heard on a significant issue when no one is listening him? Mahatma Gandhi’s taking recourse to fast unto death at every drop of hat and, that too, every now and then, could stir the national consciousness , because he remained a popular figure across the world. In contrast, the far lesser mortals like Professor G.D.Agrawal who strive to catch the nation’s popular imagination on such an important issue as cleansing Ganga, fails to evoke national sentiment and consequently dies unsung and un-mourned. But it is a time that nation should wake up. It is the time that nation should seriously ponder the legendary Bhagiratha’s histroical endeavours to bring Ganga on earth. Will they allow Ganga to perish, and let the men like Swami Nigmanandjee and Professor G.D.Agrawal’s martyrdom to go in vain? Even the prime minsiter should ponder that should it not have been worthwhile for him to meet Prof.G.D.Agrawal and assure him that his sacrifice would not go in vain? Even though Prime minister’s time is not easily available because of his stately conduct of duty, yet Prime minister should explain the nation that how his going to attend the marriage function of the sons of the politicians takes precedence over that of meeting someone who embraces martyrdom for such a noble cause as seeking the revival of Ganga which is the soul of Bharat Varsha? It is highly incumbent upon the prime minsiter to take the nation into confidence now and publicly assure the nation that his martyrdom will not go in vain. Professor G.D.Agrawal is no more with us but his soul continues to remind the nation that India is increasingly getting detached from its moorings and, therefore, if this trend continues, perhaps none can dare to be another G.D.Agrawal to strive to stir the national consciousness for the issues that remained so dear to the nation once upon a time. The martyrdom of Professor Agrawal is a clarion call to the nation to return to its roots.
Where is ‘Bihari Asmita’ today, Mr Chief Minister? An anguished petition to the Chief Minister of Bihar on behalf of sixteen crores of Biharis from across the world
Shri Nitish Kumar
The Hon’ble Chief Minister of Bihar
Sub: Where is ‘Bihari Asmita’ today?
While I write this anguished petition to you on behalf of sixteen crores of Biharis from across the world, i am really afraid whether my pen has the potential and the poignancy to bear the burden of such an overwhelming anguish and and complete disillusionment of our people brought about by the latest episode of the mass exodus of Biharis from Gujarat. Yet, i strongly feel that I should rise to the occasion and speak truth to power that be, for my failure to do so today, perhaps might result in the bitter and the biting ‘truth’ once again being swept aside the carpet and being blissfully given a decent burial, unless the recurring of the event of the same or even of greater magnitude in the near future once again shakes the polity. Moreover, my love for my fellow brethren from Bihar is so profound that in the edification of sixteen crores of my people, lies my own personal salvation. Therefore, I proceed to make this anguished submission to our head of the state as our ultimate authority to seriously attend to this eternal problem confronting our state since independence. As our past experience suggests, the head of the state only wakes up from his deeply self- induced slumber to mouth the routine platitude to allay the apprehensions of fellow Biharis that all is well and that ‘Bihari Asmita’ is blossoming to its fullest potential on the horizon in the aftermath of every gory incident involving the eviction of Biharis from outside the state.. In fact, to tell you the bitter truth, sir, there is hardly any ‘Bihari Asmita’ left intact, especially when the government of Bihar under your stewardship, has been showcasing the grandeur of Bihar’s achievements with so much aplomb on 22nd of March every year, with crores of rupees being invested to organise the events in Ganadhi Maidan in Patna and elsewhere to remind the masses that Bihar has come a long way from its erstwhile years of jungle raj and the state is on its way to recapture the Mauryan glory. Unfortunately, the reality is far distinct from what it is actually perceived or pretended to be, and even if it is not sincerely believed, an impression is given that Bihar is shining globally and, therefore, the success needed to be celebrated with full state support. Do we at all need to celebrate Bihar Diwas or trumpet our Bihari Asmita when Biharis like stray dogs are being chased out from the different states of the republic every now and then? Do we have any right to showcase our so called unfounded and unwarranted glory when, far from our people being feted outside Bihar, we are being considered a burden and a liability to be disdainfully waived by sending us back lock, stock and barrel? No wonder we have forfeited our moral right to blow our own trumpet when our very collective identity of being Biharis stand seriously compromised today.
Sir, the latest unsavoury episode in Gujarat, even though now being blown over by a circumspect administration presided over by a competent chief Secretary who, too, has the pride of hailing from Bihar, the incident, unequivocally, once again severely injures the pride of Biharis leaving outside their state, especially the ones who had to leave their birthplace in quest for feeding themselves and their families. The gory spectacle of Biharis in particular and non- Gujaratis in general, fleeing from the persecution of the local goons in Gujarat, boarding the buses with their families, with glaring sense of uncertainties apparent in their eyes, spoke volume about how their future hung in balance after being dislodged from their temporary nests. The biggest question that stared them at their faces: What next? Will their own state, now they were destined to, even provide them with some temporary sustenance or reprieve? The answer was well known to them: they had little option but to return to their adopted state, notwithstanding the humiliation meted out and awaiting them once they came back when the situation was normalised. The very frustration of being Biharis reigned supreme in their mind when, far from the glory of their birthplace beckoning them to come back, it was the spectre of the death threat which compelled them to return to their homes. Who they will plead with for the alleviation of their misery, and who will actually come to their rescue in such critical times, were the overwhelming questions that dominated their mental space with darkness enveloping them from all sides?
And, it was not the first time Biharis had faced this nemesis; in fact, Biharis have become the habitual victims of this regional prejudice and discrimination. In 2008, Raj Thackray had created a big ruckus by unleashing a fang of his hatred for Biharis by giving a clarion call for driving out Biharis from Mumbai. While Thackray’s hooliganism needed to be condemned in the severest of terms, it also can no longer be ignored that, why Biharis– and Biharis alone– become an object of hatred and envy for others? Raj Thackray’s contention that UP and Bihar dump their labour class on us, thereby congesting Mumbai and other metropolises cannot be overlooked. A question we need to ask ourselves in all earnestness: Why, despite after seven decades, we have failed to create job opportunities for our people, thereby inexorably throwing them at the mercy of the predatory mindset of those who prey upon their innocence and lack of moorings ? Why none of the chief ministers of Bihar barring Shri Krishna Singh, ever thought tangibly in terms of elevating and uplifting the standard of their own people, is the moot question that perturbs every single thinking Bihari today? Had all your predecessors, rising above their electoral caste permutation and combination, could have thought about the pan Bihari identity, perhaps Bihar would never have stagnated the way it has. For, when Raj Thackray was driving away Biharis from Mumbai, he and his henchmen never bothered to ask whether someone was from forward caste or backward caste; he drove away Biharis wholesale from Mumbai. Similarly, Thakor and his henchmen never bothered to ask the migrant workers what their individual identity was; they were only interested to drive away Biharis from Gujarat. Ironically, we in Bihar and, that too, even in this twenty first century, are obsessed with a singular concern: which caste do i hail from? Significantly, one of the Supreme Court judges from Kolkata( name withheld) confided in this writer that how when he had been posted in the Patna High Court, Brahmin judges came to meet him and counselled him to join their lobby because he too was a Brahmin. Aghast at such revelation, he politely dismissed them on the ground that he did not believe in the caste system.
Sir, in the 19th century, before the Gaddar movement shook India, the Indians, especially the Sikhs, who had gone to Canada as the indentured labourers, had a terrible time in adapting themselves to the aliens land. The poor Indians, especially the Shikhs, were chased out of Canada by the howling mob and, as soon as they entered the USA border, the mobs from UAS chased them back into Canadian territory. Like stray dogs, the Indians were running here and there in search of shelter and security. Biharis, especially our proletariat class, has come to enjoy the similar status in today’s contemporary India: they are being driven out from one place to another–first, it was in Mumbai, then it was North east, and now it is Gujarat, and god knows where their next destination will be? Do our uneducated or semi- educated brethren intermittently deserve such an inhuman treatment, despite being the bonafide citizens of this republic? How long will state continue to derelict its responsibility to provide jobs and foster an environment where our people can find the gainful employment? How long our state will continue to bask in the false and illusory glory of celebrating the glory of Bihar Diwas, when the brute reality is this: Bihari Asmita, time and again is being trampled under the feet of such hooligans like Raj Thackray and Alpesh Thakor who, notwithstanding their villainous conduct and Satanic deeds, remain adorable for their own people? It is the time for the introspection; it is the time for taking stock of what we have genuinely achieved, and not go by sloganeering and rhetoric. It is not the time to invoke the false pride of being a Bihari when the brute reality is, that the term ‘Biharis’ seldom invoke respect and veneration but it invariably excites contempt and disdain. It is not the time to boast that if Biharis leave Delhi or cease to work for ten days, Delhi will come to stand still; it is the time to show by real action that Biharis are so much gainfully employed in their own native state that the thriving metropolises like Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata will come to stagnate if Biharis leave those places in drove.
Sir, Bihar needs a chief minister like Shri Krishna Singh who dared to transform Bihar in his own ways. The glaring example of his marvellous exploit was the building up of The Bihar Institute of Technology at Sindri on pattern of that of IIT Kharagpur, when being denied the chance of setting IIT at Jamshedpur where it was originally planned. Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy’s proximity with Pundit Nehru, was the trigger for shifting of IIT from Jamshedpur to that of Durgapur and finally it was set up in Kharagpur. Shri Krishna Singh, despite Bihar having produced the plethora of Chief Ministers, had alone carved out a place in the hearts of Biharis and, that too, after decades people remember him with reverence and admiration. Unequivocally of late, people have begun reposing faith in you after decades, but that trust is yet to bear fruition. Biharis need jobs within Bihar so that the random migration of our people stop forthwith. It does not mean to suggest however that there should be the total employment of our workforce within the state, but there must be a substantial employment so that a beeline is not made for seeking bread and butter outside Bihar. The brute irony of the whole scenario is this: While even Bengalese and Oriyas are migrating to different metropolises, cities and towns in different parts of the country, it is only Biharis who have earned a bad name for themselves, The reason is not far to seek: Bihari workers outnumber all of them; they throng everywhere for filling up their bellies.
Sir, while your vociferous demand for a special package for the state was laudable when you were in so called grand alliance, your sudden softening of stand, if not jettisoning it altogether, once joining Modi bandwagon, becomes inscrutably unfathomable. Why should a Vikas Purush be cowed down by so called political expediency, especially when his summum bonum is the development of the state, the people of the state prefer to ask? Whether a special package or not, Bihar must develop in real terms; it must generate employment; it must pull in private investment. Surprisingly, when state after state has been organising the business summits to invite private investments, no such initiative has come from our state. Nonetheless, Bihar being agriculture based, prima facie focus has to be given on agriculture and education. The immense potential of water of Mithila has to be utilised( Your own statement on the occasion of Bihar Diwas 2018, that we have the most scarcest water resource needed to be harnessed so that agriculture revolution can be forthwith ushered in). The another irony of our state is this: while our workers prefer to go to Punjab and Bhadohi for cultivating their lands, they show least inclination to work in our own fields, why? Is it because the cultivation back home is no longer profitable? Why not the government come up with a comprehensive plan to revolutionise our own agricultural farming? It is the high time that Swami Vivekananda’s mantra of ‘arise, awake and stop not till our goal is reached’ is followed on war footing. Let the government take the vow that it will not rest unless the large scale jobs are provided within the state to its own sons and daughters.
Sir, General Maneckshaw once described the Indian army Jawans as the object of respect. When asked why he said so. He said, ‘ I respect them because they are the salt of the earth’. Likewise, the huge battalion of our labour force is the salt of our beloved home state; neither can we disown them, nor can we hide on the pretext that our state produces the maximum number of IAS, or engineers or, for that matter, any n number of professionals. For even if that is statistically true, the fact simply cannot be overlooked, that the vast number of our labour force far outnumber and overwhelm the microscopic section of our elites or intelligentsia class. Hence in this backdrop, the panacea lies in creating more and more jobs on war footing. Let us no more be complacent or bask in false and illusory glory of ‘Bihari Asmita’, when our so-called bubble of ‘Bihari Asmita’ time and again is blown into smithereens by the forces outside Bihar. Let the glory of ‘Bihari Asmita’ be actually sung by the outsiders, and not by our boastful, empty self- glorification rhetorics. The celebration of Bihar Diwas on Bihari Asmita is like thumping our own chest that we are so and so, while outsiders continue to mock us by saying, ‘ Look, Biharis have no place or roof over their heads in their own states, but are self- glorifying themselves like beggars who are no choosers. Let Bihar discover ;Roti, Kapda aur Makan for Biharis within Bihar, and that will amount to recapturing the Mauryan glory. And, till that to happen, the wisdom lies putting in abeyance invoking all our honour and glory, for honour and glory come to the victors and not the vanquished. When we go seeking the jobs outside our state, no matter howsoever talented we are, we become the beggars. The history is beckoning you towards itself: either you seek a date with history by transforming Bihar into a developed state of the union, or risk missing your tryst with the destiny of Bihar and the nation for ever like most of your predecessors. The choice is yours: Whether you will be another Shri Krishna Singh or another Jyoti Basu who, notwithstanding all his popularity while he presided over the destiny of West Bengal, was soon consigned to history and became a forgotten figure barely after a decade of quitting politics?
Author of Yes, I am Bihari
on behalf of sixteen crores of anguished Biharis from across the world.
Biharis at the receiving end yet again
How long Biharis will continue to be victims of regional discrimination for the fault of their destiny makers? Is Chief Minister of Bihar listening to the pangs of his fellow Bihari brethren who have been falling vicims in the hands of Thackrays, Thakors and other regional chauvinists time and time again? It is the high time Mr Nitish Kumar should ponder that why Biharis have to migrate to other states for eking out their living, and how long they will be at the mercy of the local goons who seldom hesitate to unleash their fangs of hatred and paranoia towards them without being least concerned that they too are the bonafide citizens of this great Bharat Varsha?
Vivekanand Jha is an author of the classic : ‘Yes, I am Bihari’
The recent ire directed at Biharis’ in particular, and non- Gujaratis in general, in Gujarat, is a vindication of the fact that how India as a nation- state is so much vulnerable to those who are considered as the ‘migrants’ and ‘escapists’ whose accursed migration fuelled by the burning pang of hunger and unemployment, often make them ‘persona non grata’ and, that too, notwithstanding their immense contribution to the economy of the respective state they inhabit. Although the heinous crime committed by a fellow Bihari in Gujarat of raping a toddler, deserves the harshest of punishment, the fact that the entire Biharis are tarred with the same brush. tantamounts to defaming and disgracing the most hardworking and honest people who have always played the sheet anchor role in the rise of the states they inhabit. Willy nilly the whole episode smacks of a far greater conspiracy to demean and disparage Biharis so that the Prime Minister is indirectly blamed for driving out Biharis and non- Gujaratis from his home state.
Why Biharis continue to be at the receiving end time and time again and, that too, for an individual crime that remotely has any connection with the collective identity of the whole state? Why the people whose forced migration to different states of the union, brought about by the grinding poverty back home, and lack of adequate employment opportunity in their own home state, suffer this blatant humiliation time and again which would pale in significance even the treatment meted out to Bangladeshi refugees and even Rohanigyas? How do the people of Bihar, especially the unfortunate migrant workers, condiser themselves any better than that of the stream of refugees inflitrating India when, far from getting the corresponding dignity reserved for the bonafide citizens of this country, they are being unabashedly targeted as if they are the unwanted stray dogs who are to be driven out at every drop of hat, while the destiny makers of their own home state play the game of political oneupmanship– staunchly expressing their soliudarity with them when they are being fired– and then mystically lapsing into an irretrievable silence after the heat has finally settled? This happened even before when Raj Thackray had built up a mass hysteria against Biharis in Mumbai, and the local goons targeting poor innocent Biharis in Assam and other north east states. The politicians of Bihar, especially the chief minister then and now, the same Mr Nitish Kumar had cried foul over Biharis being unjustly driven out. The heat was kept on the Prime minister and the union government till the violence died down. No concrete action plan was formulated to insulate Biharis from such recurrence of future violence against them. Once the dust was settled, everything was back to square one. The government of the state hardly drew any future contingency plan in conjunction with the union government to ward off the recurrence of such incidents in the future. The impression gained currency that all was well once the normalcy returned.
Ironically, while the Biharis remain at the mercy of the differrent state governments, the politicians in Bihar are least sensitive to their fellow brethren living in such hellish conditions and, that too, at the mercy of the local governments and the local politicians who never shy away from making them their targets for pleasing their own constitutencies. Worse still, in order to invoke the collective ‘Bihari pride’, the politicians of Bihar from time to time, with a view to playing to the gallery, sought to attribute glory to their valour and false pride of contributing to the rise of the nation, even though in the heart of their hearts they know that in reality they are making fools of their own people who so innocently trust them and take their every word of cheers for them as compliments and glorification. In this very backdrop, Nitish Kumar’s famous invocation in Delhi that, if Biharis stop their works for the next ten days in the national capital, the city will come to standstill, while it was enough to extract cheers from crowd, it did little in restoring Biharis collective pride in genuine tangible terms. In reality, the job creation in Bihar alone would have been a befitting tribute to the people of the state, when the people would have been gainfully employed in their own state, finding little incentive in migrating to the other states for the purpose of employment. After all, who in right sense would feel like abandoning their homes if the employment opportunities were available at the door step? Bihar’s politicians, especially the chief minister, who remains an architect of Bihari Asmita, stands indicted, along with other politicians, for inflicting miseries upon his own people by not doing much in alleviating pioverty or creating an ample opportunities back home. Although the recourse to constitutional decree that every citizen of India is free to go anywhere, is the availabe alibi to exonerate oneself of massive dereliction of the state responsibility to provide the job opportunities, the fact cannot be denied that the state of Bihar remains mired in poverty and acute deprivation, despite the passage of seven decades of nation’s independence.
Intrestingly, while other states of the union too have their people migrating to the other states for their livings but seldom they have been the target of this regional discrimination and unleashing of an onslaught against its people as Biharis have been time and time again. The large number of migrant workers from Bengal, Orissa, Uttarpradesh have been inhabiting the other states of the union, especially the metropolises like Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata, it is only the people from Bihar and Uttarpradesh who have been the biggest casualties of this regional prejudice and hatred. Ironically, while the inflamatory comments of Raj Thackray needed to be condemned in the strictest of the terms, his pragmatic observation cannot be given a decent burial: ‘Why Uttarpradesh, despite having produced the galaxy of prime ministers, still remain the most backward state of the union when, far from providing employment to its own people, it dumps its labour class to swamp our cities and towns?’. Thackray had similarly contended the same thing about Bihar too. Small wonder then Raj Thackray, despite his malevolent action, was stating the obvious: Why Bihar, despite being such a populous state with rich heritage, continues to be afflicted with miseries that it could hardly provide panacea for its own people who continue to run from pillar to post in quest for making both their ends meet?. Why the chief minister who was so vociferous in seeking a special package for the state before he was the part of NDA, suddenly softened his demand for the same once having joined the Modi bandwagon? Has Nitish’s much vaunted love and affection for the state suddenly fizzled out at the altar of the expediency for power and pelf? The chief minister cannot insulate himself from the allegation of perpetuating the misery for his own vast number of uneducated labour class who continue to throng the different metropolises and cities of India for feeding their families.
Dr J.N.Singh , the chief Secretary of Gujarat, while delivering his historic speech in a Vidyapati festival in Ahmadabad, had famously said, ‘ Bihar is ruling Gujarat’, because most of the topmost bureaucrats of the state are from Bihar’. Dr J.N.Singh was stating the obvious: Apart from he himself, the most of the topmost bureaucrats in Gujarat are from Bihar, including the director general of police. Significantly, with the fleeing of the migrant labour at the face of the unleashing of violence against them, the pressure is acute on the chief secretary and the director general of police. Worse still, to fend off the criticisms, the director general of police, Mr Shivanand Jha had spouted a misnomer that the migrants have gone to their respective states to celebrate the impending festivals and not being hounded out of the state. This justification, while it might have the potential to fend off the criticisms directed at the administration, the reality can hardly escape anyone’s attention: fear mongering has taken its heavy toll on the poor migrant workers who have been terrorised by the local goons, especially by a particualr caste led by Alpesh Thakor whose vested interest in the whole episode cannot be ruled out. Besides, the indirect role of the Congress Party to bring disrepute to Modi, could also have played a pivotal role in orchestrating the whole drama. Congress staunchly believes that if the blame can be laid for such a mass exodus at the door of Modi, possibly he would lose large chunk of votes in the upcoming state and general elections. Little wonder there has been a selective targeting of migrant workers to incite the mass violence with far negative implications for Modi government at the centre and the other state governments run by BJP.
Mr Saryu Roy, a minister in BJP government in Jharkhand, had famously said at the book launch function of ‘The Living Legends of Mithila’ that, notwithstanding the myriad achievements of Biharis across board, the taint that the very word ‘Biharis’ have come to be associated with, could not be taken off. Mr Roy was ruefully stating the glaring fact which needed a proper reflection. The fact that Biharis can boast of producing the maximum number of IAS officers or engineers, are simply not enough to wash off the very taint that Biharis also contribute to the vast number of labour class people who are thronging the metropolises across the country and, therefore, this crucial fact easily overwhelms the microsocmic elite class which tend to suffer from the superiority complex, often basking in the glory of their respective professions. Regrettably, this elite class has been distancing from the proletariat in such nuanced ways that they often gloat over their nemesis, little realising the fact that they too are their part who failed to obtain education because of the grinding poverty and the lack of adequate facilities and provisions back home. These elite people fail to recognise the fact that so long as the state as such languish in poverty and lack of education, their individual progress will not prove to be productive enough to bring glory to the entire state.
While this recent upheaval towards the migrant Biharis may die down in the next few days. Yet it is the time that the ruling hierarchy of Bihar sits up and take a proper cognizance of the conditions of the people working in metropolises, towns and cities of other states of the union. Each time the attack is unleashed against the Bihari migrants, the same stereotypical lodging of protest and crying hoarse of injustice being done, is no long time remedy. At best such ravings and rantings can help in easing of the situation, but still the long term solutions can continue to elude the people of Bihar. The panacea lies in creating job opportunities back home so that the huge work force which moved out of the state can be gainfully employed in the state itself. Also, the government has to focus on de-criminalising the state so that big investment can be channelised towards it. Bihar, being an agriculture based economy, has to significantly focus on emphasising the creation of agro based industry and improving the nature of education in the state. Unless these concrete steps are taken, shedding the crocodile tears each time when the violence is perpetrated against the migrants will not do justice to the people of the state. Hence in this backdrop, the drumbeating about our myriad achievements, will surely fail to convince anyone that Bihar is the progressive state and consequently is in a position to lead the nation. Nitish Kumar should note that India readily accepted the leadership of Narendra Modi because he flaunted his credentials of ushering in a bedazzling development of his state which provided as a living sample of his achievements; however, he, whatsoever may be his individual leadership prowess, has been still presiding over the destiny of the state whose people are running helter skelter in search of a better living standard outside their own states. Will Biharis then have any respect for their own home state and its leaders who seldom give any thought to their nomadic lifestyle and their ill- fate to be perpetually victimised for being the descendants from a particular state having no moorings of its own? Although an individual’s crime cannot be the reason for targeting the masses, but the state’s repeatedly falling back on its obligation to provide jobs to its own people may prove to be a ticking time bomb waiting to implode anytime in the future.
Do or die battle for BJP
While BJP has everything to lose, Congress has none.
Will Modi prove to be the underdog Kapil Dev of 1983 or formidable Clive Lloyd?
Vivekanand Jha is an author and a public intellectual.
With Modi all set to sound a poll bugle on 31st of October, 2018, on the occasion of unveiling of the world’s tallest statue of Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, the fact that might be weighing heavily on his mind that 2019, while on one hand will prove to be a do or die battle for BJP, on the other it will technically mean little for Congress, for defeat of the Congress will be something more than a moral breakdown, whereas the loss for the BJP will not only amount to be a shattering blow for it, but will lend credence and credibility to the claim of the dynasty that it alone has the credentials to rule the nation for decades.Small wonder then laced with Vajpayee’s glorious legacy of Hindu nationalism and Sardar Patel’s expediently appropriated legeacy of being a nation’s unifier, Modi, undoubtedly will pass through Agni Pariksha in 2019. But the moot quesion is: Will Modi pass through this Agni Pariksha and blow into smithereens the much trumpeted exclusive claim of the dyansty to provide stability to the nation, or he himsef will end up as a casualty of much hype and hoopla built around his persona?
With 2019 approaching fast, the war rooms for both BJP and Congress are hotting up. While BJP is going to this great battle of democracy as the West Indies team had gone to play in the world cup 1983, whereas Congress will take to the field as an underdog India, with little to lose but everything to cheer for if the applecart of the far superior team can be upset. Naturally this analogy drawn from cricket game fully befits contemporary India’s political scenario, where the BJP is gung ho about its performance which gets reflected in the comment of the incumbent President of the BJP, Mr Amit Shah, when he, even though in rhetorics, claimed the continuance of BJP rule over the republic for the next five decades, unequivocally smacks of BJP’s growing sense of over confidence, if not hubris, to demolish the underdog Congress and even rid India of Congress virus. Willy nilly the situation is very much akin to that of the West Indies team in 1983, which boasted of such greats like Clibe Lloyd, Viv Richards, Marshall, Garner, Holding etc, whereas Indian side boasted of legendary Sunil Gavaskar who, notwitstanding his greatness, also shared the burden of ignominy of making just thirty six runs in sixty overs. West Indies, as it appeared, would demolish India in no time, but the result was a pleasant surprise for the entire cricketing world for ever: An underdog backed by Kapi Dev ultimately eclipsed the mighty West Indians to emerge victorious in the World Cup 1983. Rahul Gandhi’s Congress is similar to that of Kapil Dev’s India, as one would appear to think but just wait for a moment, the situation is exactly the reverse: it is BJP which has to prove that it is Kapil Dev’s India, for Congress, even though the poor shadow of its self, has nothing to lose, while BJP has everything to lose if it goes down in the general election of 2019. Why?
When the Prime Minister will unveil the statue of Unity on 31st of October in Gujarat, he knows well that not only he will be unveiling the world’s tallest statue, but simulataneously connecting the people from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, as great Sardar himself was perceived to be the hero for unifying India, and bringing into its fold the scores of princely states which stubbornly refused to be the part of Union of India. For example, the Nizam of Hyderabad which wanted to merge with Pakistan, would never have been the part of India had Patel not been prompt enough to send the troops there and forcibly annex it. Similarly, Junagarh was the another princely state which too was annexed. Interestingly, had Nehru not gone by his insipidity in Kashmir, perhaps Kashmir problem could have been settled once and for all there and then. Hence, Sardar Patel was the unifier of this great country. Unfortunately, despite being the unifier of this great republic, the Congress Party, which throughout remained worshipper of the dynasty and its icons, never ever bothered to give due place to the other deserving persons. Otherwise, who would justify that Bharat Ratna was conferred upon Sardar only after Rajiv Gandhi died and, that too, as an appendage to Rajiv as it appeared that conferring Bharat Ratna on Rajiv alone perhaps would make the whole exercise look inordinately farcical and, therefore, the great Sardar was roped in?. Nedless to say, the blatant neglect of Patel by the dynasty driven Congress Party, gave not only the elusive ammunition to BJP but also the rights and liberties to approriate Sardar Patel’s legacy as nation’s towering legacy to be coveted by the grateful people and, therefore, there could have been nothing more befitting than building his tallest statue as a symbol for refocusing the nation’s attention towards his phenomenal contribution to reunify India. Significantly, the occasion, apart from being historic, would also serve as the viable platform for blowing Modi’s conch for the upcoming battle of the general election of 2019, which will amount to sending a great message that BJP alone stands for keeping India united and strong as per the dream of great Sardar. Prime minister will make the best of opportunity to make the nation hear him loud that he is true brand ambassador of Patel’s vision and mission.
While the fact cannot be denied that Modi charisma still envelops the republic, the truth also cannot be ignored that he had lost much of his appeal because of the deteriorating scenario in the polity, especially the soaring petroleum prices which has damaged the government’s credibility. Worse still, Baba Ram Dev’s recent comment that nation’s image has taken a severe beating due to unchecked depreciation of Indian currency vis a vis US dollar, has set the cat among the pigeons as Ram Dev is looked upon as Modi government’s staunch supporter. Also, notwithstanding the government’s claim of good employment scenario, the truth is radically different: the burgeoning unemployment scenario is the hard and bitter fact that will confront the government when it will seek a fresh mandate. Nonetheless, Modi government’s five years tenure has surely proved to be a game changer with radically overwhelming reforms having set the foundaion for a new modern India. With the launch of Ayushman Bharat, Modi government has surely scored the brownie points by winning the hearts of almost fifty crores of people. Further, many sundery schemes like Swacch Bharat Mission, Prime Minister’s Awas Yojna and sundry other grnad shemes, have sent positve signals to the people scattered in the rural India. Also, ‘Modi is good’ and deserves another chance, is the general perception of the masses. The people believe that, with Congress having wrought havoc on the polity for several decades, it would not be possible for Modi to straighten out the mess in just five years time. Hence, Modi must rerurn with bang.
Modi’s confidence is further boosted by the weak opponent in Rahul Gandhi who, far from matching his political acumen, is still politically a greenhorn and a lightweight who cannot counter his vast appeal among the masses. The recent snub gven to Congress by Mayawati when she entered into an alliance with Ajit Jogi’s son in Chhattisgarh, giving Congress a short shrift, vindicates the fact that no alliance of the opposition at the broader level is feasible. It also shatters to pieces any formation of so-called Fedearal Front as envisaed by Mamata Banerjee, as she herself is excessively concerned holding her own forte, with groundswell of support shifting fast towards BJP. Little wonder the situaion is positively disposed towards Modi, even though some resentment might be brewing across the country. Surprisingly, while the political detractors and economists might dub the de-monitisation as a fiasco, the mass perception is radically different: the larger segments of poor people still believe that de-monitisation was done in their favour; and, more the Congress and the other opposition parties are trying to bring the prime minister to the witness box for his Himalyan blunder to rob the poor of their breads, the people increasingly are coming to believe that Modi is their saviour. Hence, any such allegation pertaining to de-monitisation, instead of sticking, it boomerangs. Even GST, after its initial hiccups, now has smootheend and has been largely welcomed by the small traders who w purportedly got alienated by the Modi dispensation when the GST Rregime was institutionalised.
In 2004, Vajpayee regime too was gung ho, with Vajpayee himself as the popular face presiding over the destiny of the nation. The situation was pretty similar as even the opposition was in tatters, with Sonia Gandhi being rated as the poor opponent to challenge the mighty prime minister. India shining campaign was in full flow. Vajpayee’s success was a foregone conclusion. While BJP began as the favourite to resume its next innings, while congress was pathetically looking towards an innings defeat. But then nation watched bemused as far more eperienced and popular prime minister lost to an inexperienced minnow. India shining campaign evaporated in no time as the perception gained ground that Indian electorate never voted based on any given predictable pattern. BJP’s dream for ruling the country for yet another five years term was blown over. The dynasy had the last laugh when it began tom-tomming that it alone has the credentials to rule the country and none other can snatch that prerogative from it. While Congress celebrated, BJP had gone into mourning for another next decade. It was only in 2014 that BJP could rediscover its moorings, when it once again rode on to power as Narendra Modi as the charioter. And, with these five years about to complete, the trepidation of revisiting 2004 might be still lurking in the minds of the topmost leadership and the strategists of the party, for they know that 2019 has everything in stake for BJP and, therefore, it is nothing but a do or die battle for it. In 1942 Mahatma Gandhi had given a call for Quit India’, 2019 will be equally a do or die battle for BJP. when Modi will step into ,Mahatma’s shoes to hearlad a new revolution in the heart of great Bharat Varsha.
As Prime Minister will be unveiling the statue of the iron man of this country, he will be highly aware of this fact that on his shoulder lay the total burden of BJP. As India heavily banked upon Sunil Gavaskar in the cricketing round in the olden times, with the total team’s overall dependency for making runs lay on his shoulder, Modi alone is the pivot around whom this entire election of 2019 will revolve. Therefore, the fear of losing the election might be reigning supreme in his mind, for the loss will erode an all time credibility of any alternate arrangement to run the country for more then five years. He also knows that although his party may be an equivalent of that of the West Indies team given its superior strength across the country today, the wisdom warrants that he should better treat himself as a team of underdog Indians of 1983, and himself as Kapil Dev, so that the overconfidence and hubris are not allowed to set in. For the nation or the party cheers the winners, it has quickly written off the winners in no time once the winnability factor is gone. As 2014 had catapulted him on to the mental space of the nation as its hero, 2019 may also pull him down as the villain who let BJP down by his personal whims and fancy. Therefore, 2019 is an Agni Pariksha for the Prime Minister, if he passes through the ordeal, he brings a crowning glory for himself and his pary and perhaps may even will be rated as the greatest Prime Minister of India till date; however, if he loses, he will go down in history as an iconic loser who was even jettissioned by the tallest statue of Sardar Patel and the towering legacy of Hindu nationalism of Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Paradoxically, while the world will be clapping Modi’s unveiling of world’s tallest statue, Prime minister himslef will be highly conscious of this double edged sword.
Is Mohan Bhagwat taking RSS away from its moorings?
Vivekanand Jha is an author and a Public intellectual, He is also an author of an upcoming book on Hinduism
The latest observations made by Bhagwat, whereas it might appear to be shifting of a narrative by the Sangh, in view of the change in dynamics of political equations and churning out that has happened over the last several decades in the polity, the closer look would suggest that Mohan Bhawat is only dishing out the old food in a new plate, for Sangh’s publicly mellowing of its stand towards its long term adversary, Congress serves its dual purpose: On the one hand it successfully conveys its change in stand that the broader outlook of Sangh should be not viewed from the prism of BJP- RSS equation, on the other hand it shakes BJP out of its complacency that its overwhelming reliance on RSS cadres for votes, while showing aversion for accommodating its aspirations in policy making, cannot go side by side. Also, RSS chief is sending a subtle mesaage that it is too big an organisation to be publicly perceived as backing a single political party or its agenda for the greater good of the nation.
Mohan Bhagwat’s recent observations in the serioes of lectures in an RSS ongoing sessions set me reeling into the deeper state of contemplation. The moot questions that started pelting my mind space were: Is RSS undergoing a complete metamorphosis in view of the changing dynamics in poliitcs, or was it mere posturing on the part of the head of the organisation to send subtle signals to its idological mentee that the time was ripe when, far from overwhelmingly banking on RSS cadres, BJP must draw heavily upon its own performance to seek votes in the upcoming general and state assembly elections. Interestingly, Mohan Bhagwat’s peeved observation that BJP had won the previous general election in 2014, and other assembly elections because the people wanted change, was the vindication of the stand that Bhagwat had taken ever since BJP, especially its top leadership, had started appropriating the victory to Modi’s single handed efforts and his ever growing charisma to entice the voters in voting for him. Bhagwat’s repeated rebuttal of BJP’s trumpeting Modi’s popularity as its biggest USP, also was the factor that drew the ire of the Sarsanghchalak, who has been feeling dwarfed by Modi’s growing stature in BJP and even at the national and international fora. Also, Sangh’s inherent beleif that institution is always superior to that of an individual, also could have influenced Bhagwat’s firm negation of Modi factor being the exclusive justification for BJP’s landslide victory in 2014.
Surprisingly, Bhagwat had been sending feelers to the Congress for quite sometime for some working out some sort of rapproachement with it. There could be hardly something more surprising than this: Sangh’s anathema for Congress and vice- versa, having been widened in decades, cannot be expected to be bridged in few days or months, for the trust deficit between the two, is so acute that the sending of feelers by one to the other is also not expected to be taken at the face value. Needless to say, the baggage of bitterness and hostility dates back to 1948, when Sangh was implicated for assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, forcing Congress to ban it. Even during the emergency, the leadership of Indira Gandhi had imposed a ban on it, when its Sarsanghchalak Balasaheb Deoras was incarcerated. However, it has been widely reported that he had extended his help to Indira Gandhi by helping her out to prevail over the dissent of the opposition. Small wonder then how the bitterness of decades can melt in few days or months, remains a moot question? Worse still, the constant dubbing of RSS by the Congress as the radical Hindu agents which spreads its communal virus for the degeneration of India up to the level of being an equivalent of Hindu Pakistan if ever Sangh has its ways, has been another irritant which set both apart from each other. However of late, Mohan Bhagwat has been extending an olive branch to Rahu Gandhi to come and have a dialogue with him, to get an adequate enlightenment about the real activties of the Sangh, far distinct from the perception that he has of the Sangh, has been welcomed by the right thinking citizens of India.
Significantly, Bhagwat’s outright rejection of BJP’s call of Congress Mukta Bharat’ by his own rejoinder of ‘Congress yukt’ Bharat, while it might not have gone down well with BJP, it must have appeared music to the ears of the grand old party, which has been struggling to keep itself afloat in view of an increasing aggression from Modi-Shah duo to ensure that its obituary is written in as short a time as in 2019 general election. Bhagwat’s blunt dismissal of ‘Congress Mukt Bharat’ as a poliitcal statement, is a growing indication that, RSS too, does not endorse the totalitarianism of the BJP in the polity. For it might appear to the Sangh leadership that, even its ideological mentee’s iron grip over the polity without any semblance of opposition, runs the higher degree of risk of degeneration of Indian polity to the level of totalitarian regime of that of China, for Sangh’s dream of Hindu Rashtra is in tandem with the vibrating democracy and not under any other alternate mode of political system or arrangement. Better still, Bhagwat’s reposing a faith in constituion as the guiding philosophy of the nation, especially when Sangh never endorsed Indian Constituion so enthusistically in public domain for its denying Hindus their own Hindu Rashtra, vindicates that Sangh is settling for a new innings, with no baggage from the past. Pleasantly enough, Bhagwat’s new positioning of RSS, where Muslims will have a new role: they will no longer be subservient to Hindus unless they deny their Bhartiyata. It means Hindutava will take the back seat henceforth, and Bhartiyata will eventually guide the Sangh’s new doctrine of uniting Bharat Varsha.
While Mohan Bhagwat’s latest observations made in the lecture sessions of RSS in New Delhi is welcome, cetain facts cannot escape the attention of the right thinking citizens of this country. First, is Bhagwat shifting the narrative of the RSS from ‘Hindutava’ to ‘Bhartiyata’ which dilutes, if not obliterates, the very principle upon which Sangh has been formed? For instance, the ideology of Hindutava as preached by Veer Savarkar, which Sangh has been devoutly following ever since its inception, shall henceforth stand nullified at the very altar of a new narrative as advanced by Bhagwat? Will Sangh reconcile to the new mantra of Bharat Varsha where Muslims too are the important stakeholders like their Hindu counterparts and, therefore, shall be treated as the Aryans, aboriginals of this great fatherland at par with that of Hindus? Or, if anything, Bhagwat’s observations are merely for public consumption and not for broader assimilation? Decades ago, when Bala Saheb Deoras, the then Sarsanghchalak, had sought to assimmilate Muslims in RSS fold, he was bluntly told by his colleagues that, if he looked for finding greater space beyond Sangh’s doctrine, he should look beyond RSS. In other words, Deoras was severely warend not to tamper with the thoughts of Guru Golwalkar and Dr Hegdewar. In this case too, it appears that Bhagwat, by a quantum jump, courts Muslims by dangling ‘Bhartiyat’ before them. Will the Muslim community buy Bhagwat’s new found love for them, only time will prove. Whether his recent observaions has the Sangh’s sanction, only time will vouch for it.
In the meantime, Bhagwat’s efforts to articulate certain important issues do resonate with the larger secion of the society. For instance, his articulation of flawed ‘Reservation’ Policy’ which has already passed its expiry date, and his lashing out at BJP and other parties for their appeasement of Dalits, indeed are laudable. Unequivocably, it is the high time that the government in conjunction with the opposition determine the clear chart for retaining the reservation policy and its time duration. Bhagwat’s lashing out at BJP and other parties for appeasing Dalits by sharing food with them at their homes, indeed comes at the very crucial juncture, when Dalits are getting increasingly emboldened by taking the government to hostage by imposing their unethical wishes upon it. For instance, the latest overturning by the government of the Supreme Court’s verdict under SC/ST act, by bringing the cabinet bill and parliamentary sanction to the new modification, is an exercise of political psuillanimity. Willy nilly Bhagwat was insinuating that if the government continued to appease Dalits for its vote banks, the upper caste, which is invariably presumed to be the traditional vote banks of BJP, will shift their allegiance to other parties. Therefore, notwithstanding certain inconsistencies inherent in Bhagwat’s observation, thsi new change in RSS’ narrative as articulated by Bhagwat, indeed will make RSS more acceptable and a true representative of the aspirations of Bharat Varsha if, retaining its Hindutava as prescribed by great Savarkar, it tries to bring others into its fold.