Bihar: Trojans at War

mantosh

Mantosh Sharma | September 9, 2015



Among things that we have learnt from the Greeks and their strategy in the Battle of Troy, is to win. You need to punch surprises under disguise. In similar way, special packages worth Rs 1.25 lakh crores as announced by Mr Modi, 35 percent reservation for women in jobs as promised by Nitish Kumar is a Trojan strategy which set to mask their strategies and intentions to play around sectional constituencies.

These are developed around caste and religions in Bihar. In my opinion all recent announcements on promises are Trojans.

One thing which Mr Modi should be given credit for, is to use Media successfully in delivering targeted political messages. His success in Lok Sabha polls was analysed and imitated by various political institutions. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) imitated cyber marketing in Delhi assembly polls. On a similar note Nitish Kumar is fallowing billboard and hoarding punchlines like “Phir Ek Baar Nitish Sarkar”. Nitish went a little further and adopted Arvind Kejriwal’s campaign model and blended it with Modi’s style. He is selling governance record and ability to match Modi’s brand with image politics.

On surface, on road side hoardings and in the realm of press and TV channels, it appears that politicians could convince, sway and politically mobilise people with these Trojan messages.  However, real politics is played in disguise.

For the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the upcoming elections have become a reflection of its strength in country. As expected, political manoeuvring is going to be high tech including centralised campaign control and real time campaign monitoring spread around nearly 62000 booths in Bihar. They are keeping their Lok Sabha alliances with smaller parties including that of Ramvilas Paswan and Upendra Kushwaha. The new addition of Jitan Ram Majhi as Mahadalit face is another example. To say it the other way, they are plugging gaps with new caste alliances.

Politically, initial approach was to isolate Nitish. They were successful in damaging Mahadalit coalition by providing support to Manjhi. However, this open support to Manjhi and visible display of success and strength in destabilising Nitish generated enough fear among minorities. This tends to enhance consolidation of anti-BJP sentiments. Lalu’s initial move to have an alliance with JD (U) was based on this reality.

BJP targeted on damaging Lalu’s MY (Muslim-Yadav) combination.  The party is selectively projecting its Yadav leadership in state with leaders like Nand Kishore Yadav, Nitayanand Rai and Hukum Dev Yadav and Rajya Sabha MP Bhupender Yadav as its Bihar in-charge. If sources are to be believed, BJP is targeting 160-170 seats and it has plans to allocate 40-50 seats to candidates belonging to Yadav caste. Support given to Pappu Yadav is a kind of dent in MY coalition indirectly in Purnia and Saharsa region.

BJP tried to spread fear of Lalu raj by attacking on the RJD, Congress and JD (U) coalition. However, attacking mainly Lalu was a tactic. This has made Lalu, instead of Nitish Kumar, as centre of anti BJP axis. However, his political base got charged up and his traditional vote bank seems to stand consolidated under him. Success of Swabhiman rally in Patna clearly indicates these under current changes.

Realising this, BJP has recently changed its strategy and started attacking Nitish. They have started targeting JD(U) constituencies.

Narendra Modi and Jitan Ram Manjhi had successful rally in Gaya, alluring Mahadalit base and Manjhi’s hometown. BJP changed the political discourse by offering Rs 1.25 lakh packages and promised growth in the state. Personal attack on Nitish by PM in Bhagalpur rally that “I am more concerned about Bihar than Nitish Kumar,” indicates BJP’s strategical shift.

In Swabhiman rally Lalu said “This (BJP leader) Sushil Modi has been talking of jungle raj every day. He has been pointing fingers at Yaduvanshis. Be alert,” Lalu said. “You talk of Jungle Raj II, I talk of Mandal Raj II.”

With consistent vote share of 20 percent or more for than 10 years, Lalu has always been on stronger footing. However, he was under pressure due to legal issues, visible desire to pass political inheritance to his children and funding issue to run the party. Being out of power for two terms and the having no national business house backing, it suffered financial difficulties. For 100 constituencies, the party will need Rs 100-200 crores funds to counter BJP’s campaign effectively. It needed Mulayam and Nitish’s help to improve campaign balance sheet as well as to improve the perception of strong opposition and also to consolidate minority votes against BJP.

Nitish, finding himself in amid vulnerability of losing Mahadalit coalition, Luv-Kush alliance and section of upper caste base which is  with BJP, was left out with limited social base to allure to. Understanding this limitation, he meticulously transformed himself as an agent of aspiration and growth. He adopted Modi and Kejriwal style of campaign and created his political niche and value in the grand alliance. This created compulsion for the chemistry to be successful. Lalu-Nitish election success is dependent on transfer of votes and selection of candidates.

In the days of aspiration and growth, it is worrisome that sectional constituencies are still taking predominance in defining political strategy. It is the time when Bihari pride should be refocused on growth, compassion for people and inclusiveness for all.
 
Bihar is not another Troy.

 

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