(This article was first published in October 2015 in the previous version of People’s Review. Due to an incident of hacking the old website was pulled down and we could only restore the old articles in this section)
The upcoming elections in Bihar for the legislative assembly has drawn attention of all major national corporate funded news media, as they are trying to portray this legislative assembly election as a battle between secular and communal forces divided across two broad camps, one led by the BJP under Narendra Modi and its allies, another by Janata Dal (United) the ruling party of Bihar led by Nitish Kumar along with his yesterday’s bête-noire Lalu Prasad Yadav and the Congress Party.
The Bihar elections are always governed by the alignments of the feudal landlords of the upper castes of Hindu hierarchy, which is rallying behind the BJP this time. The JD(U) -RJD and Congress alliance is trying hard to woo the feudal lords towards their camp so that they can form the next hodgepodge government in the province mired in deep economic crisis and notorious for its feudal strongholds.
There are few major developments in the political scenario of Bihar, with different alliances coming up, some to combat the BJP’s attempt to grab power, whilst some are forging alliances to help the BJP win power. The whole struggle of the Bihar elections is whether the BJP and its allied forces will be able to form a government or not.
We will try to analyse the complex political equations of Bihar by simplifying the roles played by each of the alliances and try to draw conclusions based on their policies and agenda.
- The National Democratic Alliance (NDA)
Led by the BJP-RSS combo, the NDA is the ruling coalition force in the country and is sweeping one after another polls, thanks to the massive communal polarisation drive led by the BJP and RSS all around the country. In Bihar the BJP is well known as the party of the upper caste Hindu feudal landlords and a supporter cum facilitator of the notorious private armies of the feudal landlords of the upper castes like the Ranveer Sena and other such mercenary forces. The upper caste Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Rajputs and a broad section of the Bhumihars supports the BJP and made its victory possible through their money and muscle power in the general elections of 2014.
On the other hand to win over the support of the broad masses from the oppressed castes of the Hindu community the BJP has tied up with the LJP leader Ram Vilas Paswan, an ardent opportunist, who has successfully retained cabinet berths under VP Singh, UF government of 90’s, the Vajpayee government, the UPA dispensation as well as the Modi led NDA government, through his switching of loyalty from one to another camp in the Indian politics. Paswan though promises a fraction of the oppressed caste votes, the newly roped in Jitan Ram Manjhi, who was made a scapegoat Chief Minister by Nitish Kumar after the poll débâcle in the last general elections, has became a face for oppressed castes in the BJP’s camp. Pumped with confidence through the alliance forged with these two oppressed caste politicians, the BJP has announced that it will make a Chief Minister from the backward and oppressed castes only. On the other hand, the disgruntled leader of the RJD, Pappu Yadav, has joined the NDA fray to try his luck in getting some political mileage in his career.
The Modi government has announced repackaged deals worth Rs. 1,25,000 crore for Bihar just before the polls to win over support to its alliance. The NDA dispensation led by Modi made utopian promises regarding the development of Bihar, remained silent on land reforms, promised freebies like scooters for girls, and other such populist cheap promises, called for a digital revolution in the province which lacks basic health care, education and other facilities. The BJP has also promised lower interest loans to the peasants, which means loans to the rich farmers and the feudal lords, however, has not declared any intention to waive off the loans of the peasants in distress.
The BJP and its allies will certainly formulate a pro-corporate government policy if it manages to usurp the power of the state. The neo-liberal economic policies of the BJP, including its concealed plans for land acquisition, labour law relaxations and selling off national assets, especially mineral reserves to the international monopoly and finance capital will certainly cause grave harms to the state reeling under huge poverty and living in a money-order economy.
Using the complex caste and communal equations of Bihar in its favour the BJP will try to exhibit a pro-Dalit and pro oppressed caste image of the RSS, which is actually a Brahminical fascist quasi-military organisation that dispenses extreme hatred against minority communities and use the Dalits as its pawn against Muslims and Christians during communal violence. To communally flare up the situation before the Bihar elections, the BJP led governments of different provinces including the neighbouring Jharkhand, has started inciting communal mobs to intimidate and assault the members of the minority Muslim and Christian communities, so that the voters could be polarised on the basis of religions.
To add another feather to the cap of religious polarisation, the Muslim agent of RSS, Asaduddin Owaisi led MIM has started placing candidates in the areas with considerable Muslim population to divide the Muslim votes between himself and the anti-Modi Grand Secular Alliance. Though Owaisi is asserting his role as a starter for assertive Muslim nationalism in Indian politics, the analysis of his past strategies has already revealed that his acts actually benefit the RSS – BJP more as he uses his fanatic speeches (an exact replica of BJP-RSS rhetoric of communal hatred) to raise the chances of vote division and pave the way for BJP victory.
The victory of the BJP led alliance will result in the further consolidation of the feudal forces of Bihar, it will make the province more communally volatile, and of course it will promote enmity between people of different communities, especially the minority communities and the oppressed castes will face tremendous exploitation and oppression.
- The Grand Secular Alliance
Led by Nitish Kumar, and supported by his erstwhile foes like Lalu Prasad Yadav and the Congress Party (which is searching for a safe landing zone in Bihar), this alliance calls itself the combatant of the Hindutva-fascist BJP. However, it was Kumar and his JD(U) that was in close alliance with the BJP during the years of Vajpayee regime, including the turbulent times when the RSS and VHP were massacring thousands of Muslims during the Gujarat genocide led by Narendra Modi in 2002. It was only in recent years that Nitish Kumar has divorced his old partner to regain a secular and progressive Lohiaist socialist image.
Lalu Prasad Yadav, who considered Nitish Kumar as his bête-noire in the recent years has accepted him as the leader of the alliance as it was impossible for him and his coterie to regain power through the Muslim-Yadav equation at present, especially when his party has suffered badly during the general elections. The Modi spectre has brought these two former disciples of Jayaprakash Narayan together, as they are determined to grasp the power of the state to ensure they can flourish rather than the coterie of Modi.
The Congress Party joined Kumar, who has remained a vocal critic of the Congress for years, due to the lack of scope of the Party to gain anything in the state on its own. Lalu had been a trusted lackey of the Congress in national politics, and Congress kept holding Lalu’s hand to find political relevancy in Bihar, where it has been turned into a non-factor since ages. The Congress Party has no such vote bank alike the Yadav-Kumar or the BJP allies, hence remains a mute spectator of the whole innings and depends heavily on the speeches of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi to mobilise supporters in the election battle.
The Grand Secular Alliance, despite its name and agenda, has nothing more different than the BJP to offer to the people. It has tainted records of corruption, caste oppression, feudal exploitation in its credit. Nitish Kumar and Lalu Yadav covertly supported the feudal armies in their campaigns against the oppressed peasantry and the Dalits agitating for land rights. As a result of this Nitish Kumar has deliberately placed the Justice Amir Das Commission report on the Ranveer Sena conducted massacres in the government trash bin rather than taking any strong measures against the perpetrators of the heinous crimes against the poor. Lalu too remained an ardent supporter of the feudal forces, whom he flirted with despite portraying himself as a backward caste Messiah. Therefore, it is evident that these political forces has nothing to offer to the poor and landless peasantry of the province if it comes to power, as Bihar government has always stood against land reforms, abolishment of large land holdings by the feudal elements, and the reactionary system of caste and communal discrimination prevalent in the province.
The fun factor of the Grand Secular Alliance in Bihar was the chapter of the Samajwadi Party led by Mulayam Singh Yadav. The head of the newly formed Janata Parivar, an attempt to unite the pro- Jayaprakash Narayan factions of Lohiaist socialist forces, Mulayam Singh, has forged a secret pact with Narendra Modi led BJP government to safeguard himself and the government of Uttar Pradesh ruled by his son Akhilesh Yadav. Under this pact, Mulayam, a hardcore supporter of feudal production relations, has quitted the Grand Secular Alliance and formed an alliance with the non existent Nationalist Congress Party in Bihar to divert the anti-BJP votes of the Yadav and Muslim community. Due to this act of Mulayam, he was recently praised by none other than Modi for his role in ‘protecting parliamentary democratic values’.
The exit of Mulayam has caused severe distress in the Nitish-Lalu camp, however, both tried to downplay the exit of Samajwadi Party as a misunderstanding and ignored any threat from the Samajwadi and Nationalist Congress Party alliance.
The political forces of the Grand Secular Alliance are not less opportunist and dangerous to the province than that of the NDA camp. The JD (U), RJD are forces that switch their loyalty between the BJP or the Congress as per the demands of the situation and they have no other economic policies than that of neo-liberal economic tyranny implemented by the NDA and the Congress.
The victory of the Grand Secular Alliance may cause the communal rhetoric mongering forces a setback in Bihar politics, however, it will fail to usher any new era in the state politics.
- The Neo Left Front
A much awaited grand left unity is in place this time in Bihar, as the parties with diametrically opposite and contrary view points like the CPI, CPI(M), CPI(ML) Liberation, SUCI, Forward Block, Revolutionary Socialist Party, has formed a left front to get greater share of votes from the poor and downtrodden people of Bihar. The election campaign of this left alliance, which consists of parties that either consider India as an independent capitalist country, capitalist country with feudal remnants, semi-colonial and semi-feudal country, etc., has centred on providing relief to the people repressed by the juggernaut of the corporate-feudal exploitation on them. Though the left forces has not clarified that how can they end the semi-feudal production relations in the province without any revolutionary democratic struggle at the grass roots, the usual poll promises of providing social justice using the state machinery, which is controlled by the ruling classes and their representative reactionary bureaucracy, is made the focal theme of the campaign.
The parliamentary left forces, consisting mostly of urban intelligentsia, has no such mass base in the province where the elections are conducted by the feudal lords as per their whim. The parliamentary left, rather than building any grass root democratic struggle against the tyrannical feudal-corporate rule, rather than consolidating and politically educating the masses to arouse them, has centred all its forces to just win seats and gain majority in the legislative assembly to form a new government. The earlier experience of 34 years of left opportunist rule in West Bengal, which diminished the working class struggle and disoriented the peasantry from the anti-feudal struggle, is swept beneath the carpet by the critiques of that regime like the CPI(ML) Liberation and the SUCI.
Though these forces of the opportunist left quotes in length from Lenin on every occasion they are criticized for joining the fray to form a government without smashing the state machinery controlled by the ruling classes, they surely miss out the real teachings of Lenin that centred around to participate in the parliamentary system to educate the people, the workers and peasantry about the deficiency of the parliamentary system to bring any real changes in their lives, smash all parliamentary illusions in the working class and the peasantry and lead them to smash the existing state machinery and establish a new one, led by the working class and the poor. Lenin wanted the left to use parliament as long as the backward sections of the masses had some illusions regarding the system, only to educate them about its obsolete nature and to gauge the success of the propaganda through the election campaigns, not to form coalition governments within the framework provided by the ruling classes. Subtracting the essence of Lenin’s principle stand, these left phrase-mongers have caught hold of the ‘parliamentarism’ of the opportunist Second International and continues to use Lenin as a shield to cover their political bankruptcy.
The parliamentary left agenda in the Bihar elections does not show any promise to smash the feudal power bastions, it does not speak about destroying the medieval feudal production relations either. The promises are centred around a reformist tone, which the left of the parliamentary sect finds a safeguard to protect themselves within the legal boundaries imposed by the ruling classes.
The review of the above three sections of contenders along with their auxiliary units like the MIM, SP, NCP, etc., it is clear that the elections of Bihar will not bring any major, or even any minor change, in the national political arena. The situation of Bihar will remain unchanged, despite whichever force wins this election.
The real issues of Bihar, its prevalent feudalism, the racial and caste oppression, the eviction of peasants from the land by the feudal lords, the rapid expansion of foreign capital’s interest in the natural resources of the province, the agony of the tribal, oppressed castes and religious minorities, cannot be answered through the parliamentary polls. Instead, the Bihari people needs a strong anti-feudal front which can intensify the struggle for land reforms, abolishment of jagirdari-zamindari from the real scene, end of caste and religious repression, women empowerment and liberation, as well as universal health and education facilities. A broad and united front of the democratic forces, free from parliamentary opportunism, is required to carry on such a revolutionary movement which can be called the Sampurn Kranti in the context of Bihar.