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Two “social engineers” to help architects of “India Vision 2047”?

 Two “social engineers” of Bihar to help architects of  “India Vision 2047”? 

Bihar Chief Minister (CM) Nitish Kumar (NK) has himself given reasons why he snapped ties with the BJP. Before analysing the reasons given by him, let us have a glance at his political journey. For a proper appreciation, Lalu Prasad’s political journey has also to be kept in view.

1974 to early 1994 – with bade bhaiya (elder brother) Lalu

 Both started their political journey from Jai Prakash Narayan’s anti-Indra Gandhi movement after which they joined the newly formed Janata Party. Pushed by his caste members, Lalu raced far ahead; entered the Lok Sabha in 1977 and Bihar Assembly in 1980 and 1985 on the Janata party tickets, and became a powerful caste leader; in 1985 his vote share had increased by 45.56%. On the other hand, NK could enter the Assembly (as an independent) only in 1985, after losing two elections. NK called Lalu his bade bhaiya and supported him to become the leader of the opposition in the Assembly.

In 1989, both entered the Lok Sabha on the Janata Dal tickets. The party was formed in 1988 at the initiative of VP Singh by merging various splinter groups of the former Janata. Next year, Lalu returned to Bihar politics as CM. With the support of yadavas (about 14% of Bihar population), other backward castes, and Muslims, he had become the tallest leader of the Janata Dal. He had mastered the art of social engineering. A decade and a half of the Lalu-Rabari era, based on casteism, communalism, and corruption, had started.

1994 – breakup with bade bhaiya Lalu

The supremacy of Yadavas – often described as “New Brahmins” among the backward castes – in Lalu’s party and government frightened other backward castes. Most dissatisfied were the Kurmis and Koeris who claim to be descendants of Lord Rama’s twin sons, Lav and Kush, respectively. Together they constitute about 8% (or, maybe more) of the population in the state. Some prominent leaders of these castes organised a Chetana Rally in Patna’s Gandhi maidan on February 12, 1994.

NK MP, a kurmi by caste and still with Lalu, was invited. A reluctant NK was being pulled in two opposite directions. While Lalu had warned him that his participation in the rally would be interpreted as betrayal, his caste friends were persuading him to address the rally. So far NK had avoided being seen as a caste leader but on that decisive day, he was told that it was once in a lifetime opportunity; a big crowd of caste supporters had come to him and if he disappointed them, he would lose their support forever. The instinct of political survival prevailed. He thundered at the rally, “we want our share, not charity; a government that ignores our interests cannot remain in power.”

That marked the end of his 20-year-old friendship with Lalu. Two months later, George Fernandes and NK formed a new party, Samata Party, comprising mainly NK’s supporters in the Janata Dal. The party’s main agenda, unwritten though, was to check Lalu.

With Congress rapidly sinking, there are only three contenders for power in Bihar:

Janata Dal (succeeded by RJD), under Lalu with the support of yadavas and Muslims,

BJP, supported mainly by the upper castes, and

Samata Party (succeeded by JD U), led by NK with the strong support of kurmis and koeris.

But none are strong enough to form a government alone. Since there is no possibility of a coalition government of Lalu’s party and BJP, there are only two options:  NK + Lalu OR NK +BJP.

NK’s constraint is that while kurmis are concentrated in and around Nalanda, koeris are thinly dispersed in different parts of the state. BJP’s disadvantage is that Bihar has failed to produce a powerful regional leader. Therefore, there are only two leaders, Lalu (succeeded by son Tejashwi Yadav when Lal was convicted in the fodder scam case) and NK.

As a social engineer, NK has built his caste-based vote bank, however small it may be. As a political engineer, he has been making his political journey by hitchhiking. Never mind if he goes with a partner he had condemned in the past. Everything is fair in love, war, and politics. Such a journey is realpolitik because of NK’s limited support base. Except in the 2010 election, his party never won a sufficient number of seats. The table set out below explains this.

Major political parties and number of seats in the Bihar Assembly
Year of election RJD (Janata Dal before 1997) BJP JDU (since 2003)

Samata Party in 1995 and 2000

1990* 122 (JD) 71 39
1995* (167) (JD) 41 7 (Samata) 29
2000* 124 67 21 (JD) +34 (Samata) Both contested. Merged in 2003. 23
Feb 2005 (followed by President’s rule) 75 37 55 10
Oct 2005** 54 55 88 9
2010*** 22 91 115 4
2015**** 80 53 71 27
2020 75 74 43 19
Position in June 2022 due to defections from other parties 80 77 45 19

*Undivided Bihar

**JDU & BJP coalition fought election and formed government’

*** JDU& BJP coalition fought election and formed government

**** JDU as part of the mahagathbandhan fought election and formed government.

In 1997, CBI started the investigation of the fodder scam.  On June 21, 1997, CBI raided Lalu’s house as well as those of some relatives. His opponents including those within his party demanded his resignation. Anticipating more trouble ahead and to safeguard his political fiefdom, Lalu acted fast. On July 5, he walked out of Janata Dal with his supporters and formed his party, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), and won a fresh vote of confidence a few days later. On July 25  he resigned as CM and made at wife Rabari Devi successor. CBI arrested him on July 30. He has not held CM’s post thereafter; he continues to lead his party though.

1996-June 2013, NK with BJP

 During the Lalu-Rabri era, NK was in the Lok Sabha (winning in 1989, 1991, 1996, 1998, and 1999). He was Minister of State (April 1990-November 1990) in the short-lived VP Singh government. In the 1995  Assembly election, Samata Party fared miserably. To get a share in power, he aligned himself with BJP in 1996. He became a minister in the 13-day government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The social engineer proved to be political too.

When asked why he went with a party whose ideology was just the opposite of his socialist ideology, he told media persons that “political survival against Lalu Prasad was more important than socialist ideology”.

Mark the term “political survival”. This is the ideology of all politicians including NK. Do not go by the face value of any other explanation they give when they change colour. At least, for once a politician had given an honest explanation. He served as a cabinet minister in the Vajpayee-led governments (1998-2004) for over 5 years and 9 months, in different spells though.

On July 3, 2003, he and George Fernandes formed a new party, Janata Dal (United), by merging three regional parties including Samata Party. The reason was that in the 1995Assembly election, the Samata Party had fared very miserably and after Lalu walked away with his supporters in 1997, in the 2000 Assembly election  Janata Dal and Samata Party had fought against each other, cutting each other’s vote.

Chief Minister with BJP support (2005-June 2013)

The table set out below presents the spells of NK’s Chief Ministership at a glance.

Oath No. From To Duration Ally
1 March 03, 2000 March 10, 2000 7 days Resigned before floor test (1)
2 November  24, 2005 November 26, 2010 Full term JDU & BJP alliance
3 November 26, 2010 May 20, 2014 In 2013, first-time mid-term change of alliance partner (BJP out) JDU & BJP alliance till mid-June 2013
4 February 22, 2015 November 20, 2015 Thereafter, with the support of Mahagathbandhan
5 November 20, 2015 July 26, 2017 Second-time mid-term change of alliance partner (BJP in) RJD & Congress (Mahagathbandhan)
6 July 27, 2017 Nov 16, 2020 Then BJP w.e.f July 27
7 November 16, 2020 August 09, 2022 Third-time mid-term change of alliance partner(BJP out) BJP and JDU fought the election together
8 August 10, 2022 continuing RJD and Congress (Mahagathbandhan)

(1) At the behest of Prime Minister Vajpayee, he staked a claim and became CM of Bihar but failed to mobilise a sufficient number.   Resigned before the floor test.

2013-July 2017,  NK again with Lalu

 Opposition to Modi more important than the corruption of RJD

 On June 9, 2013, BJP appointed Narendra Modi as campaign manager for the 2014 general election. Soon thereafter, NK ended his 17-year-old alliance with BJP.

NK was among the self-proclaimed secularists along with Muslim leaders who were spreading the false narrative that Modi was responsible for the post-Godhra riots in 2002. Fearing the loss of Muslim votes, he had prevented Modi from campaigning for BJP in the 2010 Assembly election. NK’s ambition was stronger than his opposition to corruption. What he had said about Lalu after aligning with the BJP in 1996 became irrelevant in 2013 (and in August 2022).

NK passed the floor test with the support of RJD and Congress. Lalu’s son Tejashwi Yadav became Deputy CM. Incidentally, on October 13, more than 16 years after Lalu was first arrested by CBI, a special CBI court of Ranchi sentenced him to  5 years of jail and imposed a fine of Rs. 2.5 million. On October 22, he was disqualified from Lok Sabha.

In May 2014, NK resigned after the poor performance of JDU in the general election, citing moral responsibility. Jitan Ram Manjhi succeeded him. However, in Feb next year, he replaced Manjhi with the support of the mahagathbandhan. During the 2015 Assembly election campaign, Lalu declared NK CM’s face of the Mahagathbandhan.

 July 2017 – August 9, 2022, NK again with BJP

 On July 26, 2017, NK snapped four-year-old ties with the mahagathbandhan and resigned when Tejashwi Yadav, facing corruption charge in the “Patna Zoo soil scam” (gross irregularities in selling soil from the construction site of Tej Pratap’s mall basement) along with his father and brother, refused to resign. NK cited “irreconcilable differences” with RJD on the issue of corruption charges.

Within 17 hours of her resignation, he took the oath sixth time with BJP’s support. JDU and BJP contested the 2020 Assembly election as alliance partners. Despite JDU getting just 43 seats, NK took oath as CM for the seventh time.

Since August 9, 2022, NK again with Lalu

 Corruption is again a non-issue even after CBI raided 25 places associated with Lalu, his children, and his associates. NK just quipped “wait and watch”.

 On August 8, NK asked his party MPs and MLAs to meet him in the morning the next day at his residence. After the meeting, he announced the decision to snap ties with BJP. Within 24 hours he took a fresh oath (eighth time) to form the government with the support of RJD-led mahagathbandhan. That day and thereafter he has given a list of old and new grievances against the BJP as reasons. It would be interesting to compare the reasons given now with what he had stated in the past.

  • The party MPs and MLAs were very unhappy with the BJP. “Even during (the last Assembly) polls, winning candidates said nobody (from BJP) supported them and losing candidates said they were defeated by the BJP people.” “We have discussed the way BJP was trying to sabotage our party with our MPs, MLAs and MLCs and everyone suggested that I come out from the NDA. We have listened to their voices, and I resigned from the post of Chief Minister.” He claimed that he received feedback from them that it was “people’s wish” that JDU should join the mahagathbandhan. “I had to safeguard my party.”

The question is if NK had so many grievances against BJP, why did he wait for three years to snap ties? Was he waiting for some auspicious period? A related question is, why did Lalu not take advantage of the grievances JD (U) MLAs had been nursing since 2020? The meeting on August 9 seems to be a states-managed show you give an excuse, presented as a reality show though.

  • NK’s allegation that BJP was trying to “sabotage” JD U has been interpreted by some analysts that the BJP central leadership was trying to do in Bihar (splitting the JD U) what it had done in Maharashtra (splitting the Shiv Sena) but NK pre-empted the attempt. NK has also hinted that BJP’s hit man was his former confidant RCP Singh.

There may be truth in the allegation of “sabotage” but BJP was unlikely to succeed. In Maharashtra, a large number of MLAs are unhappy with Uddhav Thackeray and there is a strong dissident leader Eknath Shinde. In Bihar, JD(U) MPs and MLAs are solidly behind NK, and RCP Sing, a former IAS office made a politician by NK, is not another Eknath Shinde.

  • Modi did not accept his request to make Patna University a Central University.

True, the request was not accepted but perhaps it was made in 2018 and could not be even one of the grounds to break the alliance, may be included in the list of grievances though.

  • After the 2019 general election, Modi ignored NK’s demand of four ministerial berths for his party men in the Cabinet. Later, without consulting him, Modi appointed RCP Singh, a JDU member of Rajya Sabha, a Minister. (NK punished him by denying him a third term in the 2022 Rajya Sabha election.)

If NK was so serious about ministerial berths for his party, why did he not make it a condition of continuing alliance in Bihar? He did not because for him, his remaining in power was more important than his party getting a share in power, especially when there was danger of revolt.

  • After the 2020 Assembly election, NK wanted a JDU member to be Speaker but BJP denied that.

The allegation is true but why did he not take a firm stand then? He did not make an issue because his primary interest was in continuing as CM. For the same reason, I do not attach much importance to his disclosure now that since BJP had got more MLAs in the 2020 election, he wanted that a BJP leader should be CM but agreed when BJP leadership surprised him to continue.

  • “Today’s BJP has a different ideology than the BJP of Atal Ji and Advani Ji. Leaders like Vajpayee and Advani treated me with respect.” “In 2013, I had a snapped ties with the BJP in protest against them being side-lined.”

Yes, BJP under Modi is different from BJP under Advani and Vajpayee but, remember, in the 2004 general election, people rejected the old guards. Vajpayee retired from active politics. In the 2014 general election, people voted for a strong leader like Modi and gave him a second term in 2019. If NK snapped ties with the BJP in August 2022 in deference to “people’s wish”, he should respect the people’s preference for a dynamic and strong leader like Modi.

NK’s claim that in 2013 he had snapped ties with the BJP in protest against Advani and Vajpayee being “side-lined” is an afterthought. He has publicly stated in June 2013 that “JD (U) will never compromise on secularism… Can’t accept a divisive leader.”

NK should know that if he wants respect from someone, he should also respect that person. He has never shown any respect for Modi. Like other Modi baiters, he too has falsely blamed Modi responsible for the post-Godhra riots in 2002. NK cannot be unaware of the truth that the burning of a coach carrying pilgrims from Ayodhya by a Muslim crowd led to riots; Modi had taken firm action to control riots.

In 2013, as in 2022, NK was shedding crocodile tears. If he was so distressed, why did he not resign from the Union Cabinet in 2002? His explanation (at one stage given to Lalu) that he was a Railway Minister and law and order was a state subject, was nothing but a lame excuse to remain in power.

Fearing that Modi’s entry in Bihar might alienate Muslim voters, NK had not allowed came to campaign in the 2010 Assembly election. For NK, Modi was untouchable, to be kept at a safe distance. However, in the 2020 Assembly election, he used Modi’s popularity to win the 2020 Assembly election.

·       NK’s another grievance against BJP is that it “does little except publicity (‘prachar prasar’)”.

During the 2020 Assembly election campaign, when he wanted to take advantage of Modi’s popularity, he was full of praise for Modi. On October 28, 2020, addressing a public rally with Modi, NK said that “people of Bihar can never forget what he has done for the state…. He has done so much for building roads and bridges in the state…. If you give the NDA one more chance…. then you take it for sure that he (Modi) will transform it into a developed state. Bihar will march ahead.”

  • NK has said that BJP is creating trouble in society in the name of religion. All opposition parties should unite to defeat BJP in 2024.

This charge made in the Assembly on Aug 24 is an assurance of cooperation with Islamists (discussed later in the article).

  • One more reason, given by others but not by NK directly, is that being part of the market will run will pave the way to his becoming a prime ministerial candidate in 2024.

I do not consider it that simple because there are stronger aspirants. This reason has a different significance that I will mention shortly.

My assessment  

The timing of the exit of BJP and the entry of RJD is the most crucial part of the drama. I think, whatever has happened in  is a result of a deeper conspiracy hatched by Lalu – a very cunning and selfish politician – after police action against the Popular Front of India (PFI), followed by investigations by ED and NIA. Lalu can go to any extent to earn money and power. He has tried to kill two birds with one stone.

One, If NK could be persuaded to become Prime Ministerial candidate in 2024, the deck will be clear for Tejaswi Yadav to become Bihar CM. BJP will not be able to stop it.

Two, with BJP out, PFI will get freehand and patronage of the State government, dominated by Lalu & Sons, to work on the plan to make India an Islamic country by 2047.

In July last, ahead of PM Modi’s visit to Patna, IB had informed Bihar Police that a possible terrorist module was operating near Patna. During raids there, police found incriminating documents, one of them running in 8 pages named “India Vision 2047” that PFI had circulated internally. The “vision” is to completely dominate the ‘coward Hindus’ and subjugate them, a goal achievable even with 10% of Muslims rallying behind PFI. it claims that in ‘the event of a full-fledged conflict with the state, help would be needed from friendly Islamic countries.’ The other document was “Popular Front of India, 20 February 2021”.

Police arrested two suspected terrorists including a member of PFI who was earlier in SIMI. NIA has already taken over the job of further investigation from Bihar police and ED is examining from a money laundering angle. According to a Bihar police officer, “In the last few years, PFI has developed friendly relations with Turkey, a flag-bearer of Islam.” PFI was imparting training to the local Muslim youth in the use of e of swords and knives in the name of martial art and spreading hatred against the majority community to achieve the goal.

After action by Bihar police and investigations by the central agencies, PFI had to act fast. The presence of BJP in Bihar government was against the interest of Islamists. A friendly “secular” government would not allow the state police to take any initiative.  On the other hand, it would provide security to PFI, Social Democratic Party of India, and their sympathisers.

The change in government took place within a month of the police action.

A power-hungry NK fell into the trap laid by Lalu, Congress, and PFI. After all, his primary goal is to remain in power.

Devendra Narain

August 31, 2022



Devendra Narain

Hello, my name is Devendra Narain. I live in Gurugram, Haryana, India. I write serious blogs as well as satires on challenges before us.

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