Challenges of Nitish Victory

Updated: Dec 31, 2010, 16:27 PM IST

Ajeet Kumar

After the poll outcome in Bihar there is a huge hue & cry hovering over the political arena of the state. The entire uproar is that the era of sectoral politics is on the verge of dying.

Claims are also that Bihar has completely come out from its antecedent of casteist politics and is riding on the wave of post-modern neo liberal political aesthetics devoid of so called grand narratives like, social equality, pluralism & secularism.

But in that hovering context, two basic points need to be debated. First point is directly related to sectoral politics and the other one is concerned with neo liberal politics.

Has Bihar really emerged out from the long lasting dominancy of castiest politics? The poll outcome statistics clearly go against the prevalent euphoria. Rashtriya Janta Dal and its alliance are still intact with their base, rejoicing a solid support of nearly 26 per cent voters.

The NDA has also been able to garner 39 per cent votes against last tally of around 37 per cent. But the seats’ outcome is not in tandem with vote statistics. It appears that the entire game is all about etymology rather than that of epistemology. It tells a different story of seat disparity which neither goes in favour of any national or regional parties except NDA.

The real difference in seats goes only in favour of tactical and bipartisan voting. In last assembly election, certain segment of electorates had shifted from Left, Congress and other camps. But this election battle saw only two camps - ruling and RJD alliance- negating minimum room for Congress and Left parties.

Others, however, got a significant share of around 27 percent votes. It is also very clear they jolted RJD & alliance candidates in maximum number of seats. On the other hand, others who were contesting elections as a rebel of ruling alliance totally failed to lure electorate.

Furthermore, Congress’ total vote share of around 8 per cent is not a show in uniform pattern, but mainly the gain of few of the powerful candidates which have strongholds over their constituencies. These candidates bagged a certain number of votes due to their own appeal rather than riding on the support of party or party’s charismatic figures like Sonia and Rahul Gandhi.

However, the severest blow was suffered by the Left which got only one seat in Bachhwara (Begusarai). Areas like Arrah, Jahanabad, Siwan, Begusarai, and Balia which were considered as bastion of Red threw up pathetic results for them.

Rejection of Left parties-- mainly CPI ML-- has sent a clear message that its’ cadres mainly comes from newly coined Mahadalit have shifted their loyalty towards NDA. Those who know Bihar politics keenly should recall that in post Mandal politics, ML had emerged as a most emphatic voice of subaltern and marginal classes which were victims of both forward and neo emerged Backward caste (Sanskritized) feudocracy.

Moreover, shifting of class oriented ML cadres towards NDA has tightened the ghetto of caste rhetoric in a new shape of Mahadalit rather than loosening its bond.

This is really the writing on the wall and simply narrates that the sectoral politics has gripped and rather over/tightened its rope albeit in its new avatar of social engineering.

Alienation of Left cadres towards Janata Dal United appears somewhat reasonable but shifting of ML cadres towards rightist BJP is most challenging message for Left politics. More or less it is a victory of Fukuyama‘s and Keynes neo liberal politics over ideology or history based politics.

Nitish’s social management can also be treated as the extension of Lalu’s politics of social engineering. His administration has the similar amalgamation of neo liberal aesthetics of political economy. But the most pathetic aspect of this new engineering is that it is the nexus of all rightist and pro rightist elements. This might affect the plight of marginal classes in the name of development.

Those who don’t see any wider difference in outcome of both the caste management should appreciate certain things here. Coupling both Dalit and Backward class’ identity, Lalu had broken the long lasting dominancy of ‘Forward class’ and had produced a shift in power paradigm.

But a new form of Nitish engineering will only strengthen the pro feudal and neo sankritized forces as in the new camp, the forward as well as Backward, Dalit and Mahadalit are gathered only for their protection and revival of identity politics. Here it should be cleared that neo Backward, Dalit & Mahadalit forces have same sociological pattern of Brahmanical identity like its predecessors.

Simply, we can say that Nitish camp will remain safe for the protection and preservation of dominant identity politics which is feudal in nature. Currently, development is lucriating everyone but no development pattern has its own remedy and moves on his merit but its political economy has been always controlled and guided by Hegemonic forces.

Those who are only voicing the euphoria of development and are saying that Nitish has got the mandate for development should well know about the fact that Forward Class has been opposing pro-Lohia forces since its inception in power in 1989, when Bihar had moved on the way of social transition.

Backward class’ emergence had however incepted in 69-70s in the leadership of Karpoori Thakur but this could not move ahead due to lack of Dalit support. Also it was not the reflection of mass emergence but was only the appearance in line with shifting of power in Centre.

In 1977, Karpoori and his team again gained power and indicted Backward class reservation in Bihar. But it was mostly the pan India (mainly northern India) revolt against Congress and Indira Gandhi’s autocracy and totalitarianism.

In late 80s and 90s, development was not in the agenda of Forward class opposition. The main agenda was of retaining supremacy that was severely ruined by the pro Mandal and Dalit forces. Coincidently at this juncture all the three Jayprakash and Lohia’s followers Lalu, Paswan and Nitish were in same camp.

Also it should be reminded that Bihar was derailed from the path of development not just after Mandal politics, this had started in late 70s. Though it didn’t become an agenda in next 10-15 years, it came into the limelight after Lalu’s arrival.

For the last 14 years, Forward classes have been opposing Lalu but were not successful in dethroning him. Nitish too remained sidelined by electorates despite of trying his best. He became successful only after the hara-kiri of Lalu himself.

In lack of development oriented visionary politics, his magic of social change got trapped in the mess of ‘jungle raj’ mainly coined by elite and pro feudal media.

Excessive identity of a particular caste added to Lalu’s debacle. Due to excessive hegemony of Yadavs, he got more or less isolated in society. Heavy socio-political transformation of this caste during Lalu’s regime has also spread opportunistic politics in his men which later converted into infighting. For Lalu it was not practically possible to satisfy each and every section of society. And the last nail came from the separating of Mahadalit from Dalit.

The pro feudal English media which is now projecting Nitish as a development icon under a deep conspiracy of exploitative tags of hegemonic agenda of Antonio Gramsci’s a prison notebook should also be questioned.

This is the same Brahman class which has been in power for its language superiority and always remains successful in setting agenda in the name of absurdity vs. cultured.

They are always opposing the Backward and Dalit forces mainly indulged in setting aesthetics not in line with their exploitative pattern.
In the name of development, same forces are now exploiting their hidden agenda. Lalu never tried to adjust in the elite domain but developed an aesthetics of his own compulsion fit for marginal voices though the hegemonic English media playing in the hand of pro feudal forces always tried to reject his charisma by coining him a ‘Joker’ and his tenure as ‘Jungle Raj’.

The most significant contribution of Lalu in post emergency period to the Indian politics is his own political aesthetics. In independent India he was the only politician who challenged the Centre in his own marginal voice devoid of hegemonic norms and parameters well aware of the conspiracy and risks of Sankritization.

So any development agenda will have a demand of certain political economy that will ensure its pattern to be remain more nearer to equality and plurality .But the current get- together of pro development forces in the leadership of Nitish will only protect the interest of hegemonic class devoid of margin voices. For Nitish Kumar there will be a little chance of adjustment at the cost of hegemonic classes as any such effort will spoil the whole game of his success formula.