Shunned by allies, Rahul is not a factor in Bihar

Shunned by allies, Rahul is not a factor in Bihar
Shunned by allies, Rahul is not a factor in Bihar

Navin Upadhyay

New Delhi, Oct 29

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]I[/dropcap]n the Battle of Bihar, Congress vice–President Rahul Gandhi is neither an ordinary foot-soldier nor an all-powerful General. The man, who was expected to bear the burden of a struggling party on his not-so-broad shoulders, has been reduced to a pariah whose presence or absence makes no difference to the outcome. The Congress Yuvaraj’s forays in Bihar have largely gone unnoticed, and his jibes at Prime Minister Narendra Modi are not grabbing headlines in the competitive war of wards where Lalu Prasad, Amit Shah, Modi and Nitish Kumar are stealing the show.

A jean-and-tee man when holidaying abroad, Rahul looks distinctly out of place in kurta and pajama, but he does not shy away from hurling suit-boot-ki-sarkar jibe at the Narendra Modi regime even in Bihar. But the same line of attack cannot go on forever. Unlike the other major combatants who have remarkable gift of gabs, Rahul has still to depend on his script-writers to carry across his message and ‘vision’. The limitation of his oratory skill clearly stands out in this polls where political ‘jumlas’ and “mushairas” are stealing the show on daily basis. Of course, Rahul is the lone leader who has avoided the temptation to get into the sort of scurrilous attacks that has brought down the level of discourse to a dangerously low level. But he is a mere pawn on the political chess board of Bihar, and as such the media has no interest in his benign pearls of wisdom, either.

The congress has fielded 40 candidates under the umbrella of the Grand Alliance, but Rahul seems to have had no say in deciding either its political agenda or ideology. Rashtriya Janata Dal Chief Lalu Prasad Yadav and Bihar Chief minister Nitish Kumar have shunned him in a way that the three leaders have not come on one platform even after three phases of the polls.

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]T[/dropcap]he Congress did try to place this trinity together and invited Lalu and Nitish for Rahul’s first rally in Champaran last month, but they did not oblige feigning preoccupation with seat sharing talks. Lalu is unlikely to ever forgive Rahul for tearing off the ordinance that could have allowed convicted politicians like him to remain a public representatives, and Nitish obviously sees no reason to antagonize Lalu by warming up to his nemesis.

The fact also remains that Rahul will be a political liability for leaders like Lalu Prasad Yadav and Nitish when they have unleashed an aggressive caste-based campaign and are stoking the fear of the backward castes and dalits that the BJP government was conspiring to take away the existing benefit of reservation they enjoy in government jobs and educational institutions. The statement of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat about the need to review the existing reservation policy has come handy for them. Before these stalwarts of caste politics, Rahul is like a political greenhorn. Few among the dalits or backward castes will identify with Rahul in Bihar where Lalu and Nitish have their own committed support base among Yadav, Kurmis, Mahadalits and a section of the extremely backward caste voters.

So, both his personal equation against Lalu Prasad and the lack of his utility in the battle of castes makes Rahul a spectator who cannot contribute much to the outcome other than egging on the warriors. The BJP leaders have never missed a chance to take a swipe at Rahul for being shunned by his own partners.

“Why are the leading actors of a ‘divided’ secular alliance not sharing dais with Rahul Gandhi during his election rallies in Bihar in contrast to the NDA where the leaders of various allies are being seen together at rallies?” Senior BJP leader Sushil Modi said on Monday.

Modi said that the way Lalu and Nitish have avoided Rahul shows the grand alliance was based on mistrust and opportunism.

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]I[/dropcap]n fact, a majority of the Congress candidates are less keen on hosting Rahul’s rallies than those of Lalu and Nitish. Not surprisingly, Rahul has chosen to address just ten rallies where as the Prime minister has found time to address more than two dozen rallies. Rahul could have spent far more time in Bihar and used the opportunity to get a first hand understanding of the caste politics, but once again he has believed in shoot-and-scoot politics. The Congress performance in Bihar, will not be a reflection of Rahul’s political management.

He has yet to learn that art!

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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