|Patna: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav |
during Hindustan Samagam programme in Patna on June 23, 2015. (Photo: IANS)
Bihar is in election fever again. These upcoming Bihar elections will be the most crucial for the people of Bihar. Each of the political parties have their agendas rather than manifestos. But the people of Bihar are still waiting for development in the real sense for many years. The election was supposed to be promising, but as days pass on, the politics of Bihar seems to trap the people of Bihar in the politics of communalism and caste.
Nitish Kumar was once the hero of Bihar. People looked upto him until he stood against Narendra Modi’s Prime Ministerial candidature in 2013. Since he broke his alliance with BJP, he has been criticized from various corners of the state. He then entered into coalition with Lalu Prasad Yadav, which made him the villain in the eyes of the middle class people in the Bihar and rest of India. But for the people belonging to lower castes in Bihar this is a classic combination of representation of the lower castes in Bihar politics.
Castes so important!
Caste has become so important this time that even BJP President Amit Shah has tried to reinstate the category of PM Narendra Modi’s caste in the election debates. In his excitement he even said that BJP has given India’s first OBC (Other Backward Caste) Prime Minister to India. Lalu Yadav immediately reminded the world that Amit Shah was wrong and that it was H.D Devegauda who was India’s first OBC Prime Minister.
Not only this, BJP has delayed the release of Caste based census citing technical grounds. But the real reason people suspect is that declaring the caste based census may become a problem for BJP in upcoming elections. People consider the BJP to be a party ruled by upper caste Hindus. Most RSS leaders belong to the Upper caste Hindu category. In Modi’s cabinet, out of 27 ministers, 12 belong to the Upper Caste Hindu category. But it is expected that in the caste based census the population of upper caste Hindus may lie anywhere between 10% to 18%. Yogendra Yadav says that it may lie between 15% to 20%, while the OBC will be 45% to 50%. This uneven representation of OBC and Upper Caste Hindus in various segments of society may raise a demand for OBC reservation in India and may help Lalu Yadav and Nitish Kumar in Bihar elections. BJP has never opposed reservation, but there is a hidden interest in avoiding the caste based census being released. As per various reports and a claim by Rashtriya Janta Dal (RJD) spokesperson Manoj Jha, there is a segment of OBC leaders within BJP who want the caste based census to be declared. BJP, thus, is also fighting an internal battle.
Caste has become so important that BJP is totally relying on Ram Vilas Paswan to do the magic in Bihar. Paswan is one of the most important backward caste leaders in Bihar. But it is still doubtful if he can pull it off and help BJP in this crisis situation.
No development, caste is supreme
The sad fact is that In the present scenario no political party is talking about the real issues, the various issues which need immediate attention. Bihar is still one of the most underdeveloped states in India. Crime is once again rising in Bihar. Infrastructure remains a serios matter needing attention. Education, industrial development, creation of new jobs- everything has been compromised in order to win the elections by the various parties. There have been numerous caste based political gatherings being organised in Bihar in last six months than ever. But there are no ‘development’ based gatherings. Leaders, including Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, are talking about ‘caste’ based development, and not a wholesome development.
Caste is a myth created by the politicians in order to consolidated their voter base. This has been a reality in every state of India. Bihar is no exception. Caste vote bank politics is a destructuive part of Indian electioneering. Sadly people have fallen again into the trap in Bihar.
A beautiful tomorrow?
The present state of affairs in Bihar present a very grim scenario. But there are serious questions given the previous history of Bihar. How is it that a state which was lauded for its caste-less election 10 years back, when Nitish Kumar won, irrespective of his caste, is going back to the situation of the 80s or the 90s? Have the people of Bihat not learnt from the past? The poor Kurmis, Yadavs and Paswans are leading the same kind of life which they were leading three decades back! Voting their own caste has never helped anybody. Can the state really think of a better tomorrow? Isn’t a beautiful tomorrow a dream for Bihar?
If people of a state are going to caste their vote based on their castes even in 2015, then there is no hope of this political disease going away. The age old proverb stands true- “People are ruled by the leader they deserve.”
This article was first published on LokMarg on July 23, 2015