With the declaration of the 'cliffhanger results' of Bihar Assembly Elections the hyper-humid political temperature in the country has somewhat lowered now. It won't border on exaggeration to say that this single election had kept almost the whole country on tenterhooks for some time. In fact this election had hogged the limelight at every political discussion that took place in the country in the last few months.
We witnessed the allegations flying thick and fast in Bihar with the opposite camps taking absurd potshots on each other. The Bahari vs. Bihari plank of Grand Alliance and Jungle Raj allegation of NDA were among the catchy coinages that made rounds in this election. Now with the Grand Alliance's canters to victory and NDA's lagging behind, a trail full of introspecting lessons has been left behind. More than a reason to rejoice or repent, the results can serve as an apt food for thought for all the politicians and political parties of India irrespective of their ideologies or stated agendas, let alone the BJP.
Though it might seem that the caste or the regional card played by the Grand Alliance provided ballast to it and that the development mantra (of course with Hindutva undertones) of the NDA backfired, there is much more than what meets the eye. This election in fact heralds a new phase in the politics of the country. Gone are the days when the opinion of the head of the family used to decide who would the whole family vote for. As is exuded by this election, the father and son and husband and wife have voted for different candidates. The narrow and exclusivist appeals have had a minimum effect on the political choice of the people. In fact the choices have been weighed in broad and pragmatic scales. This election is an eye-opener not only for the BJP, which has savored the bitter fruits of its (deliberate) failure in curbing the deteriorating communal harmony of the country, but also for other political parties which have not proven on to the expectations and fared not well on the welfare barometer in the eyes of the people. Though it can be said that the verdict of Bihar Elections will lower the pitch and tone of aggressiveness and stubbornness of BJP, it cannot be considered the downfall of BJP. We have witnessed the victory of BJP in local-body elections in Kerala or nine Congress MLAs in Assam joining the BJP—with both the states being ruled by the Congress. We have seen the verdict of Panchayat elections going in favour of BJP in Uttar Pradesh which is ruled by its arch foe, Samajwadi Party. In a nutshell the Bihar verdict is suggestive of the fact that the practicality is at last slowly percolating into the Indian politics with a clear line being drawn between the regional aspirations and the national objectives.
Now if we talk about the implications of the victory of Grand Alliance on the national politics the Rajya Sabha comes into the mind. We recently saw the washout of the Monsoon Session of the Parliament. Many important bills like GST couldn't make their way because of the NDA's lack of majority in Rajya Sabha. If NDA would have won Bihar Election then maybe it would have managed to garner the required majority in Rajya Sabha to ensure the smooth passage of the Bills of their own version. But given the reality now, the coming Winter Session is going to be highly electrifying with the diminishing of NDA's and enhancing of Opposition's bargaining power. Much ado could perhaps be witnessed outside the Parliament too. At the state level too this win for Grand Alliance is just the beginning of the challenges for Nitesh Kumar. Though he is supposed to lead the Alliance but Lalu Prasad Yadav can prove to be an elephant in the room. Given their differences in outlook and mentality, moving forward in synergy would require both of them to climb down from their original ideological extremes and tread a journey of compromise.
Tail piece: What Lalu and Nitesh mean to Bihar, Farooq and Mufti mean to J&K. Imagine if there would have been an alliance between Farooq and Mufti on the same lines as that of Lalu and Nitesh, wouldn't the foraying of BJP into J&K have been prevented? Yes of course! And then today it would have just been the repetition of history.
(Mohammad Muqaddas Hussain is an alumnus of NIT Srinagar)