Thursday, November 25, 2010

Reality Check of Bihar's verdict

Understanding Bihar’s verdict

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

Bihar polls have brought ‘smile’ to many faces on our TV channels. As Nitish Kumar romp through a landslide victory along with his ally in the NDA, the media started writing obituary of Lalu Yadav as well as Ram Vilas Paswan. I still remember a statement from George Fernandez not to make mistake of writing obituary of political leaders unless they are buried or cremated as they can always bounce back. There is no scientific methodology for people to vote. A middle class hero Man Mohan Singh could be defeated easily from a constituency like South Delhi which is considered to be ‘educated and well off’. Hence it is too much if we think that caste has been eliminated from the minds of people in Bihar in particular and India in general since our TV ‘experts’ wants us to believe so without changing their own caste mind.

Yes, Bihar’s results need more analysis and in-depth reading. Did Lalu and Ram Vilas’s arrogance hurt the voters? Did they take their voters for granted? Is corruption not an issue with the Dalit Bahujan communities? I think one will have to analyse the whole issue. Has Mandal failed or the forces of social justice let down the Mandal revolution in India with their continuously opportunistic and unholy alliances with the caste forces?

Coincidently, when Bihar’s Nitish Kumar government assumes office for second term, a new scenario has emerged for the forces of Social Justice which need to be understood. And it is post modern Mandalism now with most backward communities challenging the status quo and asking for the accountability. That you can not rule over them in the name of Dalit and backward without providing a space for them in the governance structure. If the political class in the name of social justice does not come out of the family business, they will be wiped out as happened in Bihar. The forces of social justice can not have Gandhi family as their idol.

However, these polls also show the inadequacy of political system where a party just getting 39% of the popular votes has got nearly 89% seats in the assembly. Most of the media termed that Bihar has now got rid of caste identities but the fact is that the Maha Dalits and most backward castes are seeking their space and Nitish Kumar should not feel that he can put the upper caste agenda on Bihar to term it as a ‘casteless’ state. How many of them are ready to leave their caste interest aside and speak for a casteless society. Will the forces of Hindutva work for a casteless society? If yes then the annihilation of caste is annihilation of Brahmanism in India which is not really the agenda of Nitish Kumar and his allies.

Nitish Kumar failed in implementing the Bandhopadhyay Commission report on land redistribution. Just a few days before the election results we saw violence against Dalits by powerful Bhumihar community which seemed to enjoy Nitish Kumar’s rule in Bihar. The violence by Bhumihars on the Dalits was because of the land issue in Pathua village of district Lakhisarai in which about 900 bighas of land declared surplus under Ceiling Act was being encroached by the goons of a particular Bhumihar leader as they wanted to uproot the Dalits and most backward communities living on the said land. Land will remain one of the most contentious issue and if Nitish Kumar in the din of the euphoria created by corporate media ignore this issue then he will meet the same fate as Lalu and Ram Vilas Paswan have met with. That the most backward communities and Dalits have signaled to Bihar politicians which largely revolved around powerful OBCs, Bhumihars, Brahmin, Kayasthas and Rajputs that they too are an important segment of state. The Pasmanda Muslims also joined hand with these forces and hence the expectations are high. However, an attempt is being made to convert the entire verdict into so-called developmental frame work. While it is true that people want accountability from their leaders and they want participation in power. They will not be satisfied with the rhetoric of development. We all know Bihar remain peaceful during the past few years as no displacement took place because of so-called industrialization as it did not happen. The first phase of Nitish’s rule was basically roads, electricity and water but big companies are eyeing Bihar now. Nitish Kumar should be careful enough to understand that he can not take away people’s land in the name of development. An image is being created for Nitish Kumar as if he is the replica of Naveen Patnayak of Orissa. Nitish should be careful enough in dealing people’s issues s Bihar is definitely not Orissa and any such displacement of people will come to haunt him and decimate him for ever. We know the media is very happy with ‘merit’ winning in Bihar because they want to push their own agenda and get land for a few corporate houses.

As Nitish takes over the reins of tomorrow, he would probably remember his colleague and senior leader V P Singh’s effort for probity in public life. It is important to understand the importance of VP Singh today and how Nitish could further that agenda of Mandal. The result in Bihar are not end of Mandal politics but as VP Singh often remarked that the Mandal forces have to capture the opposition space also. It is important for the forces of social justice to be free from corruption and family business. Nitish Kumar could do it. Bihar’s voter was very clear this time when they defeated all the major Bahubalis and those who thought politics as family domain. In the realm of social justice politics there are very few who did not leave behind any family legacy for the others.

We know it very well that the corporate run media is hell bent to undo the historical change of the post Mandal era. They do it with all their might. Using every thing under their belt to scuttle all the voices of social justice. It is not for the unknown reasons that V.P.Singh still remains one of the most hated politicians of the country. Lalu and Ramvilas must understand. Nitish and Sharad may understand it even when they are being glorified by the same upper caste media which villainised them in 1990. Is not it a fact that Sharad Yadav and
Ram Vilas Paswan were two most hated face along with V P Singh during those tumultuous years that India faced just because a government dutifully promised to implement the Mandal Commission Report.

It is time to revisit that. It is time for introspection. The political forces of social justice actually betrayed themselves. The issue of corruption may not look important to all those ideologues who are in a comparative mode but it affects the common people. It does not matter whether the corruption involve Karunanidhi, Lalu Yadav or Rajiv Gandhi. It simply means loss of generation for poor in India. It means denial of their right and basic facilities. And people today are judging their political leaders. They understand that the political class is corrupted by the power politics and that is why Lalu and Rabri might not have thought that she will face such humiliating defeat in her own den where Yadavas called the shot. The verdict is clear that you can not take your own community for granted. May be they could have learnt a few lesson from Kanshi Ram who had no family to place over the people. He created a Mayawati and a committed cadre in BAMSEF and among various Dalit communities and people accepted her wholeheartedly. Ofcourse, Mayawati too, should take a few lessons from Bihar verdict even when Bihar and Uttar-Pradesh are quite contrast yet none should take their own community as for granted. Mayawati will have to work for Sarvjan but not at the cost of the Dalits in Uttar-Pradesh otherwise the most loyal voter will ditch her. There is a limit to the people’s patience. That is one big lesson we get from the defeat of close relatives of both Ram Vilas Paswan as well as Lalu Yadav. One can not term mere representation of one’s family as the ‘voice’ of people. You will have to go beyond slogans and create a movement. People are not going to believe in your hollow secularism unless you launch an anti caste struggle. Unfortunately, anti caste movement was never on the agenda of those who claimed the legacy of social justice movement in India. Yes, we need people with clean image and clear ideology to fight against the brahmanical forces who are basking over the glory of Bihar’s rejection to ‘caste’. One hope Nitish Kumar understand that caste is the real cause of poverty in Bihar as well as in India. Mushahars, Dushadhs, Nishads, Chamars, Doms are not poor because of their class only but because they were born in these particular communities. So, he will have to reach them. He formed Maha Dalit to break the greater Dalit alliance and unfortunately none noticed it but the fact is these are the time of alliance building. Nitish’s alliance is still artificial as there can not be any alliance between the exploiters and exploited. Nitish Kumar’s upper caste vote bank will still not want that land reform be implemented and land be redistributed to poor. That Lalu too does not want.

It is important to break the myth of Bihar’s revolution. Bihar actually has little to offer to Dalits as the politics here is very much a domain game of powerful upper castes verses neo powerful OBCs. Dalits and Muslims are just an annexure to their broader agenda. It’s similar to what is happening in Tamilnadu in the name of social justice. It is actually the biggest failure of Ramvilas Paswan and Lalu Yadav as they failed to reach the poorest Dalit and economically backward communities who were feeling marginalized and left out. Nitish Kumar carefully cultivated them along with Muslims and succeeded. Those pretending to lead anti caste forces must unite all such forces victim of caste forces in Bihar in complete harmony and not mere followers of a few individuals and their families.

No comments: