In a few days from now, Bihar will be heading for its Assembly Elections and all political parties in Bihar have already begun making their pitch to the people, with the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) taking the lead with its digital election campaigns covering every booth and constituency of the state.
A few days ago there was an uproar when Amit Shah was addressing the party cadres and workers in Bihar and West Bengal, as the opposition was up against the centrality of virtual rallies and themes in the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic.
The RJD, under the direction of Tejashwi Yadav, launched Garib Adhikar Diwas in line with the party’s vision and objective of inclusive development. They called the virtual rally of Shah a poll gimmick, aiming at enriching their prospect of benefitting from the pandemic. The same was followed when major decisions of surgical strikes and demonetisation in 2016 were being highlighted by the political dividends of the right-leaning party in pursuit of power.
In this regard, it can be pinpointed how the BJP, under Modi-Shah duo, has transitioned from what it was during the Vajpayee-Advani era, where there seemed to be some internal space for dialogue, dissent, deliberation and compromise. This is not clearly visible in the present-day functioning, hierarchy and structure of the party.
The party intently expresses its realist Machiavellian penchant for bold and sharp populism, using rhetorics and polemics as an instrument to perform public good by catering to the aspirations and interests of the people. But this shouldn’t be viewed as absolving the regional satraps from their basic and moral responsibility of providing a clear blueprint of resource allocation and distribution viz a viz policy management and programme implementation.
On the contrary, consultation on seat-sharing seems to be falling behind as a clear consensus is far from being reached, drawing a lot of assumptions and presumptions. Tejashwi Yadav, who was the Deputy Chief Minister in Nitish Kumar’s Cabinet, in the grand alliance government should have tried to rework a strategy for roping in the constituents of the grand alliance playing a crucial role in reviving the political fortunes of the RJD in a state where caste and community claims and aspects matter the most.
The disgruntled faces in the likes of Jitan Ram Manjhi, Upendra Kushwaha etc. would have definitely consolidated the voter base of the RJD, thus systematically affecting any challenge from the BJP-JDU combine in the state. Lalu Prasad Yadav could have played a vital role in pleasing the disgruntled RJD MLCs who recently resigned from their posts, heavily lashing on the ineptness and inexperience of Tejashwi Yadav in keeping the flock together.
The RJD has also been accused of compromising with its ideals of social justice and empowerment by making an attempt in reaching out to the influential and dominant upper castes in the state. What better explains the resignation of Raghuvansh Prasad Singh from the post of National Vice President of the RJD, as he was considered a close Lalu aide having represented the Vaishali constituency of Bihar!
Why was he miffed with the party and how will it impact the RJD? These are some of the pressing questions standing before Tejashwi Yadav who, as a leader of his party, apart from being an administrator, will surely have to attend to. There is no denying the fact that Lalu being the unabated leader of the RJD, his presence, advice and guidance will always inspire the party’s workers, cadres and supporters.
Taking a cue from this inspiration, the RJD, under its young and dynamic leader Tejashwi, should find ways to plug the loopholes by creating a second rung and brass of leadership committed to social empowerment and inclusive development of the poor, vulnerable, destitute and the marginalised. This will help the party expand its base and footprints in constituencies where it finds itself relatively weaker in comparison to other political parties in the state.
I also believe that an understanding of alliance and coalition of the RJD with the Congress, HAM, and RLSP, well keeping in mind the focus of caste and community arithmetic in the state, will provide a counter alternative that have willingly given up on the credentials of Nitish Kumar. Since 2005, Kumar has been knows for his chosen interest in switching alliances based on his faith in the poll outcome, as he did with the BJP before rejoining it in July 2017 after parting away from the RJD.
Nitish charged the RJD of acute lawlessness, high handedness of governance and rules of conduct, sounding his displeasure over Tejashwi’s elevation as Bihar Deputy CM. In simple and plain terms, Nitish and the BJP have been allies since 2005, and Nitish has been very much with the NDA except for a few, holding the portfolio of Railway Minister.
Unlike the RJD and BJP with a disciplined cadre and voter base, the JDU can be seen appealing to the personal profile and image of Nitish Kumar in all likelihood, thus distinguishing Nitish’s prowess, posturing and manoeuvre as a leader with administrative ability and insights.
I would like to sum up my write-up in the view and hope that Tejashwi would be able to rechristen his efforts and spirit in the direction of strengthening the foundation of the RJD by envisioning and intertwining the concept of inclusive development with social justice and empowerment of the downtrodden.