By Harsh Vasani:

In a country where caste calculations dominate the political sphere, alliances are formed more out of vote bank collaboration than agenda. On the 16th of this month, the Janata Dal (United) broke the 17 year old alliance with the BJP, looming forward threats of a break up in NDA. While senior leaders like Sharad Yadav and Nitish Kumar have in the past been unequivocal of their reservations about the rise of Narendra Modi, they haven’t spoken directly about Modi-factor for the split in the alliance. However, it is well known that the elevation of Modi to Chairman of BJP’s Election Committee has triggered the strong step.

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So what can one read from this? Many possibilities crop up when one reflects on this brazen political step:

JD(U) playing hero before parliamentary elections

A study of Bihar politics reveals the shrewd political scenario the state holds. The M-Y (Muslim and Yadav) vote-bank has in the past helped Lalu Prasad Yadav-Rabri Devi retain their hold to power in Bihar for three consecutive terms. It was the absolute disregard to development and rising lawlessness under Lalu’s reign that bolstered JD(U)’s rise. Now, right before the parliamentary elections, to be held before May 2014, JD(U) is looking to dent the RJD’s Muslim vote-bank and increase its tally by getting on the high horse, albeit, at the cost of NDA.

JD(U) against Modi

Will join NDA after Modi demoted. A 2003 video shows a lesser salt and pepper Nitish Kumar praising Modi and going on to request him to extend his services beyond Gujarat, to the entire nation. It is then quite perplexing to see Nitish Kumar pontificating about Modi not being secular and the need for a un-authoritarian leader for NDA. Baffling may be, but these about-turns are nothing new in politics. JD(U), and Nitish Kumar in particular, may be against what they call, ‘Modi’s personality cult’ and may seek re-entry into NDA if Modi is held in his track. It is important to note that RSS has very firmly reasserted their micromanaging of BJP, as seen in the Goa National executive meet and the Advani resignation that followed. Convincing Advani to retract his resignation, it has also checked Modi’s rise. RSS’s mouthpiece, Organiser, has in the past made it clear that BJP’s PM candidate is still under discussion, indicating Modi’s Delhi run is still far from over.

Advani behind JD(U)’s split

L.K Advani’s Prime Ministerial ambitions are very clear to all and so is the animosity Modi faces by a section of BJP’s top brass. Rumours are doing the rounds of a possible Advani back channel working persistently to form cracks in NDA to check Modi’s rise. His statement of ‘Hasty decisions leading to break up of alliance’ seems like he’s in no mood to let go of any opportunity to exploit the faultlines. This may just be a canard since Nitish’s anathema to Modi is not very new. To cite an instance, In a 2010 BJP National Executive Meet in Patna, Nitish Kumar invited senior BJP leaders to dinner at his residence minus Narendra Modi. This led to a lot of stress in the BJP circles and eventually Nitish cancelled the dinner.

Nitish and BJP hand-in-glove to polarise voter

Skeptics have pointed out that the whole break up may be a concerted drama by the BJP and JD(U) to strengthen their vote-banks and mobilise new votes. The break up may lead to a landslide of Muslim votes in Bihar to the JD(U) and both the parties may form an alliance post parliamentary elections with JD(U) rich with the new found vote-bank and the BJP with a stronger NDA. However, the bitter talk by both the parties post the alliance split shows this theory may not hold much water.

JD(U) looking at third front

While veterans like Sharad Yadav and Nitish Kumar would know better than to take such a risk. One possibility can also be of JD(U) looking at a possibility for a Third front. Such ambitious step may be a grave mistake on their part as a Third front will be a disaster of sorts much like the grand alliance of varying parties under Prime Minister Morarji Desai.

Whatever it may be, the empty talk of secularism has done little damage to Modi’s persona, though within the BJP voices of dissent have grown a lot stronger and Modi may have to silence them; just like he’s been doing for the past few years.

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