At stake: Future of stalwarts

At stake: Future of stalwarts
At stake: Future of stalwarts

New Delhi

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]C[/dropcap]hoppers that dotted the Bihar’s skyline for over a month are grounded, and rabble-rousers who occupied them are nursing their tired limbs. After a month-long campaign that would shame anyone who believes in an informed democratic discourse during elections, it’s time for stock-taking and reflection for the Generals of the warring armies. Much is at stake for them. This election is not an ordinary election. It will decide the future of scores of political stalwarts.

If the BJP-led NDA wins the Battle of Bihar, Prime Minister Narendra Modi could hope to have an uninterrupted ten-year-rule over the country, and if the BJP loses he will struggle to govern effectively and push forward his economic agenda during the three-and-half years of his remaining term.

If the Grand Alliance wins Nitish Kumar will emerge as the face of Opposition against Modi at national level, and he might try to bring together all anti-BJP forces on one platform with an eye on the next Lok Sabha polls. A victory for the Grand Alliance would also give a fresh lease of life to RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, who would go all out to seek a stay on his conviction a la Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa.

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]C[/dropcap]onversely, a defeat for the Grand Alliance would mark the end of the political journey of Lalu Prasad, who will have neither age nor stamina, to carry on with his ‘mandal raj’ dream any more. For Nitish, who is a few years younger to Lalu, the setback would deliver a deadly blow to his political ambitions.

A group of leaders like `Bihari Babu’ Shatrughan Sinha and former Home Secretary RK Singh have come out in open against the functioning of the BJP under Shah.

If the BJP loses, party president Amit Shah’s style of functioning will come under severe scrutiny. Already a section of the party feels that Shah is too inaccessible and brusque to head a party that draws its strength from millions of cadres. Shah’s proximity with Modi makes him an awe-inspiring figure whose word is God’s own command in both the party and the government. Shah’s style of campaign which was focused on” negative’ propaganda and marginalization of Bihar leaders in electioneering, are already being discussed in the party. A group of leaders like `Bihari Babu’ Shatrughan Sinha and former Home Secretary RK Singh have come out in open against the functioning of the BJP under Shah.

Shah’s position could also become untenable because Nitish Kumar and Lalu Yadav were successful in projecting the Shah-Modi pair as “Gujarati” to stoke the flames of Bihari sub-nationalism. The BJP could face major problems if it were to tackle similar sub-nationlism issues in other forthcoming state elations as well. It is a well-known fact that several senior leaders from North India do not like Shah’s complete domination of the party, and they are waiting for an opportunity to start a whisper campaign for his ouster.

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]A[/dropcap]n adverse outcome for the BJP will also come in the way of expediting economic reform measure as the opposition will be emboldened to stall legislative measures to prove that the Government has failed to deliver on its key agenda.

A setback for the BJP in Bihar would also bring together regional forces, possibly under the umbrella of Janata Parivar or otherwise, and attempts would be made to accommodate both the Congress and the Left as part of such groups to take on the NDA. Modi may have overwhelming majority in parliament, but a defeat at the hands of his bête noire Nitish Kumar will take the sheen off his personality and he would start looking like yet another loud-mouthed leader. This would also reflect in the way the world looks at Modi. A “defeated” Modi will not hold the same amount of charm for the internal business community which would not be sure if he would be able to get a second term to give continuity to economic reforms.

On the other hand, if the BJP wins Bihar, Modi will consolidate his position both within the party and the government. He might waste no time in shuffling his portfolio and sacking non-performer ministers. Modi also might crack down on those ‘fringe elements’ who are shifting the focus away from the agenda of development to cow and beef. The Opposition would be so devastated that they would not be in position to stop Modi from having his way in parliament. That should help Modi translate his dream into reality without facing any resistance.

Navin is a senior journalist with years of experience in covering India’s Capital city. His keen observations and ability to create the big picture from disparate pieces of information is invaluable.
Navin Upadhyay


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