A new political equation is forming in Bihar. For many years, Ram Vilas Paswan’s and Lalu Yadav’s parties had stood by each other and they had an alliance. Even after Lalu Yadav went to jail, Vilas Paswan stood by Lalu Yadav. But people who returned from jail after meeting Lalu Yadav related how Lalu Yadav was not very satisfied in the context of Ram Vilas Paswan and how it seemed to him that he may perhaps have to think again about Ram Vilas Paswan’s seats for the coming Lok Sabha elections. In fact, in the last elections, Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party could not win even a single seat. But at some places his candidates put up a good performance.
Perhaps Lalu Yadav sees himself hemmed in by trouble. For the next eleven years, he himself cannot fight elections. And with the kind of indications the people of the country are giving, it seems people may not give much preference to his family members either. In Lalu Yadav’s family, there are three people who can take Laluji’s place after reaching the Lok Sabha. The first is his wife Rabri Devi, who has been the Chief Minister of Bihar and the Leader of the Opposition as well. The second is his son Tejashwi and the third is his elder daughter Misa. News has emerged that there is some competition between Lalu’s sons Tejashwi and Tej Pratap. In the Rashtriya Janata Dal and in several other parties, no person other than a family member can become President.
The environment and prevailing feeling is such that the senior most leader always fears that if somebody other than a family member becomes the party President, he or she can hamper or put a stop on their politics. It is because of this that Lalu Yadav wants to re-establish himself in Bihar. In this process, he talked regularly to various leaders of the party throughout his stay in jail. These talks did not remain secret and all the news began reaching Ram Vilas Paswan. Finally, Raghuvansh Prasad Singh said before the press that Ram Vilas Paswan’s seats will be decided only when he names his candidates. Amongst all the news, a bewildered Ram Vilas Paswan found this the most insulting.
It was from here that he decided to separate from the Rashtriya Janata Dal and go it alone in the Bihar elections. Lalu Yadav forgot that Lalu Yadav and Ram Vilas Paswan were together not only for seats, but this togetherness was also an indication of the unity between the backward classes and the Dalits. Lalu Yadav is no longer a leader of the entire backward classes. The most backward classes have gone to Nitish Kumar. Similarly, Ram Vilas Paswan is no longer a leader of all the Dalits. A large section that was with him has now gone in the name of Mahadalits with Nitish Kumar. Yet despite this, amongst backward leaders Lalu Prasad Yadav is still the tallest. After this, along with Nitish Kumar, follow many other leaders. Amongst Dalits, unquestionably Ram Vilas Paswan is the tallest leader in Bihar. Without paying attention to this, because of stretching and pulling at seats, Lalu Yadav began the break up between his and Ram Vilas Paswan’s relationship , i.e. the relationship between the backward classes and the Dalits.
The biggest reason behind the Aam Aadmi Party’s victory in Delhi was a blank slate. The candidates who contested had no history behind them. People supported them and made them MLAs. But people about whom the people know and are aware, if they are not good people, if they are not people with credibility, what kind of support such people will get from the public cannot be said right now. Bihar is becoming perhaps the first State to move
towards new equations.
It was here that Nitish Kumar stepped in and established direct contact with Ram Vilas Paswan. He did not keep secret or hide at all his eagerness to reach out to Ram Vilas Paswan. He said that if Ram Vilas Paswan came together with him, there would be no problem over sharing of seats with Ram Vilas Paswan. He wanted Ram Vilas Paswan to come along with on an ideological basis as well as on the basis of strategy.
On one side, Rajnath Singh, Narendra Modi and various other big leaders of the BJP were trying to cast a rope on Ram Vilas Paswan, and on the other hand Congress people were talking about an alliance with Ram Vilas Paswan. Ram Vilas Paswan said how can we fight against corruption if we take Lalu Yadav along with us? If Rahul Gandhi can publicly tear up an ordinance — which was to become a law — against corruption, then how can the Congress take Lalu Yadav along and move in the country? However, no charge of corruption has been proved against Lalu Yadav. The case is still going on in the lower courts. In our country, till the Supreme Court gives a final decision, it is not deemed a decision. Out of the Congress people who would meet Ram Vilas Paswan, some would talk only about a tie-up or alliance between the Congress and Ram Vilas Paswan and some would talk of an alliance between Ram Vilas Paswan, Lalu Yadav and the Congress. Perhaps it was from this and from here that Ram Vilas Paswan have felt that there is no unanimity in the Congress itself, so this path is muddled, just as it in going with Lalu Yadav.
Ram Vilas Paswan also spoke to Nitih Kumar about discussions on conceptual issues and Nitish Kumar immediately gave Ram Vilas Paswan a positive response to questions. Ram Vilas Paswan feared that if there are any differences between Nitish Kumar and Sharad Yadav — as was the news put out from time to time by JDU leaders — his entire efforts would be wasted. Therefore, he took the initiative from his side and established contact with Sharad Yadav as well. And in all these events, the General Secretary of JDU, K C Tyagi, came forward in the beginning itself and on the one side prepared Nitish Kumar about the possibilities of new equations and on the other side he explained to Sharad Yadav the future benefits of this alliance.
In fact, K C Tyagi believes that Ram Vilas Paswan represents a gentle face of the Dalits in the country, a face which can also become aggressive, but there is also a face of Ram Vilas Paswan which, apart from the Dalits, can appeal to non-Dalits too. And in his talks with him, Ram Vilas never showed any fanaticism, therefore, Ram Vilas Paswan could become a big ally for the future.
In Bihar, the biggest challenge before Ram Vilas Paswan and Nitish Kumar is the Bharatiya Janata Party on one side, Lalu Yadav on the other side, and the Congress on the third side. So far, the Congress is still in a dilemma on what to do and what indeed can be done in Bihar. It is the biggest misfortune of the Congress that before the elections it never thinks that it should streamline its organisation in the States or it should make its alliances dynamic. When elections come, the Congress carries out cosmetic surgery and this strategy of the Congress or the sloth of Congress has disheartened Congress workers.
In the Lok Sabha elections in Bihar a new challenge is emerging and that new challenge is of the Aam Aadmi Party. In Bihar the Aam Aadmi Party is said to be Anna’s party. All the people I have talked to over the phone in Bihar believe that Anna’s Government has been formed in Delhi. Despite this confusion, people outside the parties have been drawn to Arvind Kejriwal through a natural attraction, and where this attraction is already a problem for the BJP and the Congress, it can also become a cause of concern for Lalu Yadav, Ram Vilas Paswan and Nitish Kumar. Bihar is being treated as a test case because in Bihar the BJP-JDU alliance has broken recently. After this, Nitish Kumar has been touring, holding meetings.
Crowds are coming to his meetings. But it cannot be said right now to what extent those crowds are getting consolidated. At such a time, if the coming together of Ram Vilas Paswan and Nitish Kumar is a kind of sign or indication in Bihar, then there is another kind of indication or sign too of people contesting in the name of the Aam Aadmi Party. But the irony of the Aam Aadmi Party is that it cannot be said how many new people it will field at how many places. But leaving aside the BJP and the Congress, the number of people moving towards the Aam Aadmi Party is increasing — indeed, it can be said that the numbers are increasing at every place and they all want to fight the Lok Sabha elections. The biggest reason behind the Aam Aadmi Party’s victory in Delhi was a blank slate. The candidates who contested had no history behind them. People supported them and made them MLAs. But people about whom the people know and are aware, if they are not good people, if they are not people with credibility, what kind of support such people will get from the public cannot be said right now. Bihar is becoming perhaps the first State to move towards new equations.