Monday, October 3, 2022

Ups & downs of power politics in Bihar

After the independence of India, Bihar has witnessed ups and downs of various political parties as well as leaders. In the pre-Mandal era, i.e. before 1990, power politics was dominated by the Congress Party as a political institution and the upper castes in terms of leadership. In the post-Mandal era, the scenario completely reversed and it is being dominated by two powerful regional socialist background parties RJD and JDU under the leadership of Laloo Prasad and Nitish Kumar respectively, both belonging to backward classes.
Before the first general election in 1952, Sri Krishna Singh, a Bhumihar leader, led the provincial governments in Bihar since 20th July 1937 to 31st October 1939 and 2nd April 1946 to 1952. His leadership continued after 1952 and 1957 Vidhan Sabha elections till his demise on 31st January 1961; although, dissident activities have been unsuccessfully launched by his deputy and Finance Minister Anugrah Narayan Sinha, a Rajput leader. After the demise of Sri Babu, Deep Narayan Singh, a Rajput, served as acting CM since 1st February 1961 to 18th February 1961. Blessed with the central leadership, Binoda Nand Jha, a Brahmin, was elected as leader of Congress Legislature Party and sworn in as the CM on 18th February 1961. In 1962, third general election was fought under the leadership of Pandit Jha and he continued as CM even after the election.
The dissident activities were intensified by Satyendra Narayan Sinha, son of Late Anugrah Narayan Sinha, and consequently B.N. Jha had to step down under the “Kamraj Yojana” of the Congress Party. Following his resignation, for the first time in the history of Congress, election for the leader of the legislature party was held between two social group candidates Birchand Patel, a Kurmi (supporeted by B.N. Jha) and Krishna Balabh Sahay, a Kayasth (supported by S.N. Sinha). Birchand Patel lost due to betrayal of some of his close associates. K.B. Sahay led the government since 2nd October 1963 to 5th March 1967.
After a long span of 20-years after independence, about 85% backward & dalit population were bereft of not only in the government services & institutions, but in every walk of life. Intensive campaign for their awakening as well as reservation in government jobs & institutions was being carried out by Congress leader Deo Sharan Singh, a Kurmi (Ex-chairman of Bihar Vidhan Parishad) under the banner of “Backward Foundation”. In the meantime, experiment of “backwardism” for political control was being done by the socialists like Ram Manohar Lohia and Bhola Prasad Singh with the slogan “Sansopa Ne Bandhi Ganth, Pichhra Pawe Sau Mein Santh”. Under such circumstances, the third general election of 1967 proved to be a “political waterloo”. The Congress fell short of the majority figure and lost power in several states including Bihar.
The first non-Congress government was sworn in on 5th March 1967 under the leadership of Mahamaya Pd. Sinha, a Kayasth, of Jan Kranti Dal. The alliance was a mix up of conflicting ideology parties like Jansangh, Samyukt Socialist Party (SSP), Praja Socialist Party (PSP), Communist Party and Kamakhya Narayan Sinha, ex-King of Ramgarh. It was very tedious for Mahamaya Babu to keep these opposite ideology parties united for long time and ultimately, the government fell by 13 votes in the Vidhan Sabha on 25th January 1968. Bindeshwari Prasad Mandal (the chairman of Mandal Commission) was an SSP MP and joined in Mahamaya Pd. Ministry, but was not elected as MLA or MLC. to become a member of Vidhan Mandal his 6-month deadline was only 10 days left. On the initiative of Congress, B.P. Mandal, a Yadav, formed “Shoshit Samaj Dal” to become the CM. So, first Satish Pd. Singh, a Koiri, of his Party was sworn in as the CM, whose tenure was for just 5 days (28th Jan 1968 to 1st Feb 1968) and Sri Mandal was nominated to the Vidhan Parishad through a Governor Quota. Mandal formed the government with the support of the Congress. The Congress was not convenient supporting a backward Chief Minister. To topple Mandal Government, a break up in Congress took place and “Loktantrik Congress” under the leadership of Bhola Paswan Shastri, a Dusadh, was formed. Mandal remain in power for just 47 days (1st Jan 1968 to 22nd March 1968). Government of Samyukt Morcha under the leadership of Shastri took charge, but this Schedule Caste CM also had to resign only after 95 days (22nd March 1968 to 29th June 1968) and for the first time in the history of Bihar, President Rule came into force on 29th June 1968.
In the Mid-Term Election of 1969, the Congress got only 118 seats and remained far from the magic figure of 160. On 26th Feb. 1969, the government was formed under the leadership of Sardar Harihar Singh, a Rajput (26th Feb 1969 to 22nd June 1969) of United Forum, but he was also unable to provide stable government. Due to large-scale defection of ministers & legislatures, the Harihar Singh government was defeated in the Vidhan Sabha by securing only 143 votes against 164.
Bhola Paswan Shastri took charge for the second time through double-cross of legislatures from different parties. The Jansangh wanted to keep the Congress out of the government. Congress also did not want the leaders of Jansangh, PSP & SSP to be inducted in the government. The Congress brought a no-confidence motion in the Vidhan Sabha which was passed with the support of Jansangh, and within 9 days Shastri Govt. (22nd June 1969 to 4th July 1969) collapsed. On 6th July 1969 President Rule was imposed, which was revoked on 16th Feb. 1970, when Daroga Prasad Roy, a Yadav, of the Congress was sworn in as CM. But again the upper caste lobby of the Congress could not accept Mr. Roy for long time.
In the opposition, there was internal fight in the SSP between the upper and backward caste lobbies for leadership in which Karpoori Thakur, a Nai, succeeded. Daroga Roy govt. (16nd Feb. 1970 to 22nd Dec. 1970) fell down and Karpoori Thakur became CM on 22nd Dec. 1970 with the support of the Jansangh. He too became a victim of defections and had to resign on 2nd June 1971. A forum of like minded legislatures named “Pragatishil Vidhayak Dal” was formed and its leader Bhola Paswan Shastri took over as CM for the third time. He again fell to kept legislature united and resigned on 27th December 1972; followed by President Rule on 9th Jan. 1972.
In a span of just 5 years since 1967 to 1972, the People of Bihar have faced 9 chief ministers. In a bid to eradicate the unstable political scenario, Congress was voted to power in 1972 election with 167 seats. The Congress continued its traditional game and in place of Ram Lakhan Yadav, the leader of the legislature party in the dissolved assembly, Kedar Pandey, a Brahmin, was made the CM (19.3.1972 to 02.07.1973). Pandey Government step down within one year and for the first time in the history of Bihar a Muslim leader Abdul Gafoor (02.07.1973 to 11.04.1975) was made the CM to counter the heavyweights Mishra brothers. Gafoor had to resign following the JP movement. Taking emotional sympathy of the assassination of the then railway minister Lalit Narayan Mishra in a Bomb explotion in Samastipur in 1974, his younger brother Dr. Jagannath Mishra, a Brahmin, become the CM (11.04.1975 to 30.04.1977) and during his tenure emergency was imposed on 25th June 1974. On 30 April 1977, Vidhan Sabha was dissolved and Bihar came under President’s Rule.
In general election of June 1977, the Janata Party came to power with a landslide victory in the state. Despite strong opposition from State Janata Party President Satyendra Narayan Sinha, Karpoori Thakur was elected the leader of the legislature party and took oath as the CM (24.06.1977 to 21.04.1979). Thakur gained name & fame, when he implemented long-awaited Backward Class reservation in State Government services as well as institutions and distribute appointment letters to all unemployed engineers in the state. Under the patronage of Satyendra Narayan Sinha and even the blessings of JP, there were aggressive protests against the reservation. Ultimately, Karpoori Thakur had to resign and Ram Sundar Das, a Chamar, took charge of the CM (21.04.1979 to17.02.1980). The key of power was with S.N. Sinha and Dasji had no control over the administration. President’s Rule was imposed on 17th February 1980, and the Vidhan Sabha was dissolved.
Congress return to power in the Mid-term election in 1980 and Dr. Jagannath Mishra (08.06.1980 to 14.08.1983), became the CM for the second time. Mishra’s worst functioning angered the Congress high command and Chandrashekhar Singh, a Rajput (14.08.1983 to12.03.1985) was made the CM. The general election in 1985 was fought under Singh’s leadership and the Congress returned to power, but surprisingly he was stepped down and State Congress President Bindeshwari Dube, a Brahmin, was blessed as the CM (12.03.1985 to13.02.1988) by the Party high-command. Dubeji has full support of the MLAs, but Congress High Command pressurized him to resign and a new face Bhagawat Jha Azad, a Brahmin, (14.02.1988 to 10.03.1989), was made the CM.
In the meantime, V.P. Singh started his activities against Bofors Scam & corruption and lateron Socialists also joined him. To counter V.P. Singh in the coming the Vidhan Sabha election, the Rajput leader Satyendra Narayan Sinha (11.03.1989 to 06.12.1989) was made the CM, his long awaited dream. He tried his best to implement the popular welfare schemes and to sort out unemployment issues. But in V.P. Singh wave, the Congress loose in Lok Sabha election and Satyendra Sinha was stepped down. Dr. Jagannath Mishra (06.12.1989 to 10.13.1990), who had the image of a corrupt politician in the public, was again made the CM. Dr. Mishra hampered all those popular ongoing works, which were of no personal benefit. Corruption has reached the highest level ever since independence. In the 1990 general election of Vidhan Sabha, Janata Dal came to power and the Congress was out forever.
(To be concluded)
Er. Prabhat Kishore
(The author is a technocrat & academician. He is Master in Engineering from M.N. Regional Engineering College,
Allahabad/Prayagraj)