It is said that politics and the game of snakes and ladders are of the same kind. The rules of both the games may be different, but in both there is the apprehension of risk and immense possibilities of gain. The player playing this game can, with one right move, go from the ground to the sky and one wrong move can bring him down from the sky and throw him on the ground. A right move takes one to the ladder and a wrong move takes one into the mouth of a snake. The political journey of Nitish Kumar, who rose like a super hero in the politics of Bihar in 2005, has gone through many snakes and ladders till 2014, and very recently began moving forward through the medium of a Sampark Yatra (contact tour). But before we start the story of the Sampark Yatra, it is very important to understand what kind of political situations arose in Bihar that led to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, sitting in power with a two-thirds majority, resigning from his post and embarking on the thorny path of a Sampark Yatra.
Why did the same public of Bihar amongst whom Nitish Kumar had risen like a superhero in 2005 and in 2010 too had got record breaking success in handling the reins of the State, reject him in this year’s Lok Sabha elections? In a State like Bihar about which it had been accepted that nothing can be done in this State, a leader like Nitish Kumar ignited a new ray of hope and proved to the country and the world that if the intentions are lofty and the courage is there to do work, then anything can be done. Nitish Kumar began work and gradually, Bihar started moving forward, and opponents of Nitish Kumar also started acknowledging it. So what happened that Nitish Kumar had to sacrifice his post and had to embark on a Sampark Yatra? The political questions we are pointing towards, maybe Nitish Kumar too is faced nowadays with these very questions.
After resigning from the post of Chief Minister, Nitish Kumar remained at his residence for about 2 months, busy finding answers to these questions. During this time he met all those people personally who were connection with these questions. Nitish Kumar came face to face with leaders ranging from big to small in his party. He met key district workers of the party. Apart from journalists, doctors and social workers, Nitish Kumar held meetings and discussions with people who had done significant work in various areas and tried to find answers to the questions raised above.
In this long process of deliberations, Nitish Kumar gave people permission to openly present their views and carefully considered these views. During this period Nitish Kumar began to slowly realise that the Nitish Kumar whom the public and dedicated workers of the party had seated on the throne with a two-thirds majority, that Nitish Kumar had become very distant from the public and dedicated party workers and had got entangled in the games and jugglery of a few select dealers of power. The games and jugglery of these brokers and dealers of power didn’t allow Nitish Kumar to stay tuned to the public and party workers. The result was that the Government kept functioning, but the path of the gains that accrued from being in power, instead of going to the homes of the common people and party workers started going to the palatial houses of power brokers and dealers. The public and party workers saw their super hero very far from themselves. It became difficult for their voice to reach Nitish Kumar’s ears. Now only one voice was reaching Nitish Kumar’s ears and that voice was of the brokers and dealers of power. Though belatedly, Nitish Kumar did realise after the Lok Sabha elections that something or the other was amiss, otherwise, that public and party workers who made him a super hero, why were those very people considering him to be a villain now?
After this Nitish Kumar started a round of serious introspection at his residence, mention of which we have made earlier. Nitish Kumar made a broad review of his defeat, as a result of which he found that though there many reasons, there were 3-4 reasons in particular which changed the whole game. It is said that Nitish Kumar’s understanding became this: that his distance from the public and dedicated party workers made a crucial difference. In his speeches he certainly kept saying that it is the workers who are the spine of the party, but all channels of direct contact with party workers had been closed and the direct damage of this was that Nitish Kumar’s information about the political reality at the ground level began decreasing. Sycophant leaders and workers started showing Nitish Kumar dreams of becoming the Prime Minister of India. He was not able to get information about how much the public of Bihar loved him and wanted him to stay there itself and make Bihar the number one State of the country, because after him they could see no other capable face. The public was saying ‘Modi in the Lok Sabha’ and ‘Nitish in the Assembly’, but the correct political feedback was not reaching Nitish Kumar. The result was that walking on a path based on wrong information, Nitish Kumar descended politically from very high to very low.
Nitish Kumar understood this truth after serious brainstorming and without wasting time he decided to embark on a Sampark Yatra of the whole ofBihar. In this the other wise thing that was done was that this Yatra was organised only for dedicated workers. The so called brokers and dealers of power were kept far away from this Yatra. From every booth 5 dedicated workers were called, so that an estimation of their power could be done at booth level. These workers were also being made to fill one form through which all their important information from mobile number to other particulars would always be available in the party’s Patna based head office and two-way communication could be maintained with the workers. During the review of his defeat Nitish Kumar also discovered that his party couldn’t give an answer to the aggressive campaign of the BJP. Apart from this the lack of a strong organisation was also felt. After a long process of deliberation, Nitish Kumar had understood that by going into the snake’s mouth he had sunk very low politically and now at any cost he has to reach the ladder and that is why he began his Sampark Yatra from Champaran.
Nitish Kumar knows that the fight is difficult, that is why he has busied himself first of all with ‘refreshing’ his party and his organisation. The recent Sampark Yatra itself was a link in this chain. This caravan has now got to move forward, because Nitish Kumar has understood the difference between grass root workers and the brokers and dealers of power. Now, wherever he is going, party workers are taking to him straight away. Slogans of ‘once again Nitish Kumar’ are also being raised. It seems that Nitish Kumar has once again returned amongst his people.
In the first phase of the Sampark Yatra itself, Nitish Kumar accepted at public fora where dedicated party workers were present that he had gone very far from them, that direct communication with them could not take place, due to which he couldn’t understand the ground level political realities in the districts. Nitish Kumar says, I was losing, I don’t have any regret about that. In a democracy victory-defeat keep taking place, but the only regret is that even my associates were not telling me about the reality. During the Sampark Yatra Nitish Kumar promised workers that now no such thing will happen in the future and his contact with them will remain 24 hours. Nitish Kumar assured workers, if you give support, then I am ready to serve Bihar again. Workers sitting in the meeting raised their hands in support of Nitish Kumar’s words. After winning the trust of the workers Nitish Kumar raised the issue of disinformation by the BJP. During the Sampark Yatra Nitish Kumar also explained to the workers that the Central Government is working in the interest of businessmen instead of that of farmers.
Nitish Kumar said that in the Lok Sabha elections the BJP had to take the votes of the farmers, so it talked about their interests, but when it came down to doing work, then instead of farmers it is working in the interest of businessmen. It was these businessmen who had helped the BJP with thousands of crores rupees worth of publicity mechanisms. He said that the current Prime Minister had announced in Madhepura on April 24 that after the formation of the BJP Government injustice will not be done with farmers of the country. The BJP’s manifesto announces that we will give such gift to farmers, which in 60 years no one has given. Electricity, water, seeds, manure along with all kinds of expenses involved in farming, everything will be totalled. A further increment of 50 per cent of that amount will be made, and that will be given to farmers in the form of minimum support price (MSP).
Nitish Kumar told workers that in a letter sent by the Centre to the States it is clear that the Modi Government, let alone deciding on a further 50 per cent MSP, is not even doing the already decided increment of 3.5 per cent. Apart from this a threat was also given to State Governments that if a bonus is given to farmers on MSP, then procurement of food grains from States will be reduced and farmers will be left on their own.
Nitish Kumar told workers that the BJP doesn’t have faith in democracy. BJP people are only dealers of votes and they want power at any cost. After this Nitish tried to build contact with his workers in a different manner. He made the workers hear Narendra Modi’s speech on black money. When the tape finished, then Nitish Kumar said that when he had to ask for votes, then the current Prime Minister used to say that the black money of capitalists is stashed in foreign countries. The BJP Government will bring every penny back and will distribute it amongst the public. Now when it got votes and the Government has been formed, then its language itself has changed. Now he is letting people hear his heart’s voice and is saying that how much black money there is in foreign countries, nobody has information about it. It is clear from this that either he was lying before or is lying now. After this Nitish Kumar played the tape of Narendra Modi’s promise on the issue of Bihar as a special State. The tape ended, and Nitish Kumar asked people, ‘you heard that?’ He was saying that the amount of love the people of Bihar gave, I will return it with interest. Will give a special package and status too. But his associates here are saying that nothing will happen with a special State. If nothing will happen, then why was a motion passed unanimously by the State legislature sent? At that time why was it not opposed? Was in power, so was giving support, now when have gone out of power, then the language itself has changed.
In the last part of his speech Nitish Kumar once again made direct contact with the public. He said, BJP people say that the JDU doesn’t have the kind of organisation which can compete against the BJP. We felt the that party’s organisation is somewhat weak. But that Nitish Kumar who can strengthen Bihar, he can with your help also strengthen his party’s organisation – only the heartfelt support of you people is needed. Upon this, the whole meeting venue echoed with slogans of ‘Nitish Kumar zindabad’ (Long live Nitish Kumar). After this Nitish Kumar’s Sampark Yatra started again for some other district.
Political analysts believe that Nitish Kumar has learnt the lesson of defeat properly and now he to turn that same defeat into victory and he is executing his political strategy systematically. In the first phase he was breaking his non-communication with workers, was meeting them directly, was talking with them and was absorbing all the information. The benefit from this was that the workers who had in a way become inactive for the JDU and were turning towards the BJP are now once again giving an answer to the BJP people with a new slogan. Their slogan is: ‘Bihar ki janta ne bhari hunkar, ek bar phir Nitish Sarkar’ (the people of Bihar take a vow, once again a Nitish Government). The Sampark Yatra has enthused party workers and they are brimming with fervour and waiting for the next order from Nitish Kumar. Nitish Kumar is also giving an answer to the hi-tech campaign of the BJP in a hi-tech manner. By playing the tapes of the election speeches of Narendra Modi, Nitish Kumar is explaining to his people that Narendra Modia is no God. See, he has cheated people. The promises that he made during the elections, now he is retracting from them. Nitish Kumar wants that people caught in Narendra Modi’s spell should be brought out of it by being made to hear his double talk, and motivate them to take a decision on the basis of the reality of Bihar.
Enthused and motivated by the success of the Sampark Yatra, Nitish Kumar’s next preparations are to tour assembly constituencies and establish direct contact with the people. This tour could possibly begin from the coming January 15. Nitish Kumar wants to stop at any cost the horse of the Ashwamedha Yagna (horse sacrifice) of Narendra Modi in Bihar and currently he is completely focused in this direction. By allying with Lalu Prasad his courage has increased. Lalu Prasad also wants that Narendra Modi should be stopped in Bihar. Lalu Prasad has recently said that to stop communal powers he is ready to make any sacrifice. Clearly, this means that Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar are looking in the same direction, which is why walking on the same path is a compulsion for both.
Nitish knows that the fight is difficult, that is why he has busied himself first of all with ‘refreshing’ his party and his organisation. The recent Sampark Yatra itself was a link in this chain. This caravan has now got to move forward, because Nitish Kumar has understood the difference between grass root workers and the brokers and dealers of power. Now, wherever he is going, party workers are taking to him straight away. Slogans of ‘once again Nitish Kumar’ are also being raised. It seems that Nitish Kumar has once again returned amongst his people.