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The BJP-JD(U) Split Points Towards Many Possibilities

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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.


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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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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