| BJP workers celebrate Narendra Modi’s anointment at the party office in Patna on Friday. Picture by Ranjeet Kumar Dey |
Patna, Sept. 13: The BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi would face a tough challenge in Bihar pitch because of the “diehard enemies” of his political philosophy and the state’s electoral history.
Soon after he was anointed the BJP’s prime ministerial nominee, a close aide of chief minister Nitish Kumar told The Telegraph: “We had sensed well in advance that the party (BJP) was going to do what it has done today. It was precisely for this reason that we snapped ties with that party in June. We will keep on working for India to have an all accommodative and a secular leader with a vision for inclusive growth as its Prime Minister. We have chosen a different path — a path that accommodates all sections of the society and takes care of the poor and backward states.”
What drove Nitish to break ranks with the BJP was his “sense” of the state’s political history.
“The state has never supported the Sangh parivar and belligerent Hindutva. When the BJP has succeeded, it has succeeded in the company of the socialist forces. It has always struggled in Bihar when it has fought alone,” said the JD(U) leader in the Rajya Sabha, Shivanand Tiwari.
Tiwari was not wide off the mark. There was perceived to be a strong resurgence of the Hindutva forces in many parts of the country after the demolition of Babri mosque in 1992.
Lal Krishna Advani at that time had emerged a far bigger hero of the Hindutva forces after Lalu Prasad, then chief minister, got him arrested and launched ferocious attack on him. Many prophets of dooms predicted the end of Lalu for the latter’s venomous opposition to Advani.
But Lalu, a veteran from the socialist crop, had sensed the situation well. His erstwhile Janata Dal fighting on its own clinched power with a resounding majority in the 1995 elections. The party secured 167 seats in the 324-member Assembly in united Bihar. The BJP had ended up with 41 seats.
Lalu emerged an instant hero of the Muslims constituting 16 per cent of the state’s electorate. He forged M-Y (Muslim and Yadav) combination that kept him afloat and the BJP at bay for almost a decade to follow.
By standing in the way of Narendra Modi, regarded as the present day Hindutva mascot, Nitish has exactly done what Lalu had done to Advani in the 1990s. Like Lalu, Nitish expects the numerically preponderant Muslims to reward him for his unalloyed opposition to Modi.
Besides, Modi will also find the “caste cauldron” in the Ganga belt difficult to handle. Be it Karpoori Thakur, Lalu Prasad, Ram Vilas Paswan or Nitish, the leaders who have mastered the caste equations well have so far only succeeded in the state.
The Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, Nand Kishore Yadav, said: “NaMo belongs to backward castes. Nitish got frightened at the popularity of a backward leader and snapped ties with the BJP.”
Modi cannot play the caste cards in Bihar as simply as Yadav has said it.
“One can never become a leader of backward castes simply by taking birth in that caste. One becomes a backward caste leader by making contribution to the cause of backwardness and deprivation,” Nitish had said recently when the BJP leaders hinted that they would exploit on Modi’s backward caste lineage.