Challenge called Bihar: Ram Rajya in Sita’s homeland
by Rohit Srivastava on 26 Nov 2010 20 Comments

The historic victory of NDA in the recent state election has changed the political landscape dramatically. The liberal media was adamant about its preconceived notion that the widely expected NDA victory would rest solely on the charisma of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar; indeed the conventional wisdom in these circles was that the Bharatiya Janata Party would drag down the alliance by keeping the Muslim Vote at bay. Possibly even Nitish Kumar was influenced by this propaganda, and this may have played a role in the final division of seats between the allies.


In the event, the result proved a game changer in many ways. It showed that the coalition won as a united entity, and that proven performance plus future promise gave the regime another mandate. It proved that Media-driven personal charm (read Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi) is no substitute for grassroots work, proper planning, and door-to-door campaigning by dedicated, committed and responsible cadres.


That is how the BJP finally won 89% (91) of the seats it contested, and Janata Dal (United) 77% (115) of the seats it contested. Both parties won their respective seats on real hard work done, and perceived to have been done in the respective constituencies, by the people of Bihar; there is no question of piggy-back; both pulled their own weight. Even better, both party workers in the respective constituencies seem to have worked without bias for each others’ candidates. This performance – as opposed to the old discredited management of booths and voters and fear psychosis – brought in the votes.


The greatest upset was the fact that Muslims broke out of the ghettos created by Nehruvian Stalinists and voted for the alliance, that is, they voted for both the JD-U and the BJP candidates, and contributed to the landslide victory in no small measure. Bihar, land of Sri Mahavir ji, had its most non-violent election ever, and minorities and tribals in the Naxal-ridden belt, all voted without fear. It was participatory democracy at its best – Ram Rajya – with the promise of peace, progress and prosperity for all, without distinction of caste or religion or gender or region, you name it, and that is the ultimate Hindu civilisational quest.


Of course, the pseudo-secularists are having a hard time digesting the victory of the BJP. Former chief minister Lalu Yadav gracelessly said he would not congratulate the BJP; Ram Vilas Paswan was even more ungracious; and while Ms Sonia Gandhi remembered to congratulate the victorious chief minister, she was too agitated to remember to add ‘ji’ to his name, which is not a small faux pas in public life. Naturally, she omitted mention of the BJP altogether. Possibly she was upset at the scale of the BJP’s recent victory in the Gujarat local elections; Bihar coming so soon after – that too after Congress was literally decimated by the Rahul Factor – would naturally upset her. After all, even the biased media is privately assessing how long the days of the Dynasty will last.


Throughout the lengthy election campaign, the national media gave the public no hint about what the results could be like (though one TV channel made an amazingly accurate poll survey at the end of the elections). Most journalists simply failed to realise that in a vibrant and thriving democracy it’s the intricacies of local political fights and the personal view of every individual voter that counts. The political churning that goes on in villages and city streets can’t be understood by talking to ignorant and elitist intellectuals. They were caught napping when Total Revolution II happened!


But much more now needs to be done.


Bihar is a challenge, to nation, history, its people and the rest. Why? Bihar is a product of its own ignorance and others’ apathy. Bihar has been exporting its workforce for the last one and a half century. The current generation is earning wealth for other states. Why is a workforce so well received in other places not interested in working at home? No Bihari hates his state or forgets it. Our relation with our roots is strong and thriving.


Historic circumstances have never allowed Bihar to create opportunities for its own workforce. The most backward places in India at the time of independence were those ruled directly by the British – so much for the White Man’s Burden! Bihar, Bengal, UP, are prime examples of this. Then, the most underdeveloped regions of India, spread across the central plateau and the Gangetic plains, should have been the richest for the simple reason that they have all the desired resources and the history of India proves it. Why did the British chose to rule these areas directly? For money. Post-independence also, the flight of wealth continued with only a shift of destination of the wealth, from London to Delhi.


Resource-rich Jharkhand, once part of Bihar, couldn’t generate wealth for Bihar thanks to centralized planning and nationalization of resources. The PSUs earned for the nation but paid taxes to Bengal and Mumbai as their headquarters were situated there. Will the Government of India pay this money back to Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Orissa?


Bihar is no exception. To have a resurgent Bihar, we need to analyze the factors that have made other states so successful. Thus, the south Indian states have developed due to the sea coast. All the small and medium scale industry which came up during 1970s and 1980s has benefitted from that.


FDI comes only to developed places, not underdeveloped ones. The educationally backward areas of Gurgaon grew into a knowledge economy because it was near Delhi, but Patna which has far more educated youth did not rise. Business and investment comes where there is infrastructure; every one wants a quick buck.


Bangalore benefitted from the Indian Institute of Science, which became the keel of the industrial and scientific hub it has now become. In this regard, Central support to Bihar has been exceptionally poor. Yet Bihar sends its students to study across the country, so entrenched is the desire for education. Yet the Central Government has not bothered to start universities or invest in education in the state. Why should research and development funds go to universities with better resources? Isn’t it another vicious cycle where UGC funds universities with better infrastructure and resources, instead of developing new centres of excellence all over the country?


Any neutral observer would see the truth of these observations. Yet the elitist media finds it easy to tag Bihar and the common Bihari as the epitome of everything negative. For the media, political change in Bihar is a miracle; any new beginning is seen as a radical step in a society which is dead or dying. It is media which labelled Bihar a casteist society. But which state in India is not? More fundamentally, caste is not ‘bad’ thing at all, any more than religion is. Caste is simply one’s basic individual, family, clan identity; one’s lineage and civilisational heritage. Since when has Identity become a bad word? A person without an identity is eternally a problem for himself and society.


Every society in the world, in every era, has politics revolving around identity. And identity has never been a hindrance in development. This can be seen in developed parts of India even today. What the Media and Secular Intellectuals cannot digest is that the Bihar election has proved that Caste has not lost its relevance in politics but that it has started behaving differently. Caste is not a hindrance in the development agenda – there is no issue of Caste OR Development, Religion OR Development. People voted for good governance and the promise of a better future across lines of caste and religion; they refused to be cowed down by so-called community leaders and tied to a caste or religious identity post. They voted for their aspirations as a people, with caste, with religion, and not despite caste or to spite religion!


Professional secularists were left speechless. For the past year they were chattering about a possible rift between the BJP and JD-U and how BJP’s Hindutva is an issue. But people rebuffed them well. Like cracked gramophone records, they are now predicting a split on the grounds of Hindutva! A leopard cannot easily change its spots.


Can anyone suggest a better model of society than Ram Rajya or the post-Vedic society in terms of liberal thoughts and minds? Today’s knowledge economy can’t survive without liberal thinking where one can disagree and yet be teacher and pupil like in the Vedic times. The idea might seem far-fetched, but the most fast developing states today are BJP-ruled, while Communist-ruled Bengal reeks of poverty and Congress rule across India needs no comment. Only the Delhi based intelligentsia seems unable to come to terms with the changing world.


The keynote of this election, for me, is the beginning of the assertiveness of the downtrodden, which will bring this elitist lobby down its high horse. The complete shattering of the aura carefully erected around Rahul Gandhi in the in Bihar election is just a hint of things to come…


The writer is a journalist who hails from Bihar

User Comments Post a Comment
Comments are free. However, comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate material will be removed from the site. Readers may report abuse at
Post a Comment

Back to Top