Thursday, October 6, 2022

Ups & downs of power politics in Bihar

(From previous issue…)
In 1990, there was direct fight for leadership in Janata Dal between Devilal supported Laloo Prasad and V.P. Singh supported Ram Sunder Das. Das had an edge over Laloo, but at the last moment Chadrashekhar supported Raghunath Jha jumped into fray spurring some upper caste MLAs, who were loyal to Dasji. Nitish Kumar and Sharad Yadav were instrumental in favour of Laloo Prasad, a Yadav, who was elected leader and sworn in as the CM (10.03.1990 to 25.07.1997). Due to technical reason President’s Rule was in force since 28.03.1995 to 4.5.1995. For his involvement in Fodder Scam, Laloo Prasad had no way other than to step down. Laloo surprised everyone, when he put forward his house-wife Rabri Devi for the post of CM. Rabri Devi was elected the leader of the legislature party and in its history, Bihar saw its first women CM (27.7.1997 to 2.3.2002). Although, for short time President’s Rule have been imposed since 11.02.1999 to 9.3.1999.
In the general election of 2000, no single party secured majority. Governor Vinod Narayan Pandey invited Nitish Kumar, a Kurmi, (3.3.2000 to 10.3.2000) to form the government, but he could not succeed to gather majority mark and resigned within 7 days. Rabri Devi was once again sworn in as the CM with the support of the Congress, whose all legislatures got ministerial berth and its leader Sadanand Singh was chaired as Vidhan Sabha speaker.
In the general election held in February 2005, no party got a clear majority. Ram Vilas Paswan’s Party, LJP was in position of king maker, but he takes “Na Lenge, Na Denge” policy on the question to support any of the two alliances. Rabri Devi had to resign and President’s Rule was imposed on 7th March 2005. At last, Ram Vilas’s Party broke up and a large chunk of its legislatures joined Nitish’s Party JD(U). In the November 2005 election, JD(U)-BJP alliance got an absolute majority and Nitish Kumar (24.11.2005 to 22.05.2014 and 22.02.2015 uptill now) was elected leader of the alliance and sworn in as the CM. In the November 2010 election, JDU-BJP alliance again got landslide majority winning 203 of the total 243 seats and Nitish Kumar continued. In 2013, during the Goa session of the BJP working committee meeting, the then Gujarat CM Narendra Modi was made the chairman of the Party Campaign committee, with an indication that he would lead the Party (and also NDA !) after the Lok Sabha election. This angered Nitish Kumar and he broke his ties with the BJP and all the ally ministers were dropped. Nitish continue as CM with 118 JDU and 4 independent MLAs; but in the 2014 Lok Sabha general election, his Party lost badly and got just two seats. Taking moral responsibility, he resigned on 17th May 2014 and his surprising choice Jitan Ram Manjhi, a Mushar, was elected as the leader. Manjhi was sworn in as CM on 22th May 2014. Manjhi had no control over the administration; progress works, initiated by Nitish, slowed down and image of the Party began to deteriorate. There was a strong demand from the agrived legislatures for Nitish to lead the government. Seeing himself in the midstream Manjhi revolted; but with no support in the party, he had to resign on 20 February 2015. On 22 February 2015, Nitish Kumar was sworn in as CM. He had to seek the support of Laloo’s Party RJD, having 22 MLAs, as a dozen MLAs of his party stood behind Manjhi. In the November 2015 general election, faced with the four parties NDA, Nitish Kumar joined hands with his close friend-turned-arch rival Laloo Prasad and the Congress to form Maha-Gathbandhan (MG). In the amidst of a tight battle between Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar, the Maha-Gathbandhan secured 178 seats, while the NDA was shrinked at just 58 seats. As leader of MG, Nitish was sworn in as CM, which was his 5th term in the office. In 2017, when name of the Deputy CM Tejaswi Yadav, son of Laloo Prasad, figured in corruption case, Nitish advised him to come out of the government until he got a clean cheat; but Tejaswi did not do so and Laloo Prasad started criticizing the CM. To save the image of the government, Nitish Kumar and his Party came out from MG on 26 July 2017. High voltage drama was witnessed throughout the night and BJP supported Nitish, who was sworn in as CM for the 6th time on 27th July 2017 along with BJP and LJP. In the Ministry, Pashupati Kumar Paras, younger brother of Ram Vilas Paswan, was also inducted.
In the 2020 Vidhan Sabha election, there was a close fight between the two alliances NDA (JDU-BJP-HAM-VIP) and MG (RJD-Congress-Communist groups), in which national parties BJP & Congress has grabbed more seats in comparison to the previous elections. In reality, the fight was not “NDA vs MG”, but was “Nitish vs All”. Nitish Kumar was the solo target of not only opposition and Liquor Mafia, but BJP’s core voters and TRP thirsty electronic media channels. The LJP parted ways with the NDA with a solo motto of “Finish Nitish” and fought on seats of JDU only with BJP background candidates. In JDU’s constituencies the BJP’s upper caste voters aggressively rallied behind the LJP and on some seats MG too to weaken Nitish. Although NDA crossed majority marks of 122, with the BJP securing 74 as against earlier 59 seats; but the JDU was reduced from 71 to only 43 seats due to betrayal of its own ally’s core voters. As per the pre-poll strategy, Nitish Kumar, being the leader of the NDA became the 34th CM of Bihar; whose 7th times oath for the highest post is a record in Bihar. With above deceit, day to day criticism and an effort to break-up the allied party by BJP, JDU ultimately broke its alliance with NDA and formed the government with Mahagathbandhan on 10th August 2022 and took oath 8th times for the CM. Nitish Kumar had set record of serving the Bihar state as its CM for the longest period of over 15 successful years. There have been numerous ups and downs in the history of power politics in Bihar since independence. But resultant change was the downfall of national parties dominated by upper castes and the upsurge of regional parties dominated by backward classes. People experimented various Parties, alliances, personalities in the laboratory of election for want of overhauling of the rusty system. Rise and fall of numerous stalwarts and political heavyweights took place. But, time and again, the dream of the People has been shattered, and journey of the democracy is still going on.
Er. Prabhat Kishore
(Author is a technocrat & academician. He is Master in Engineering from M.N. Regional Engineering College, Allahabad/Prayagraj)