A blessing for Lalu and Tejashwi Yadav?

The political upheaval in the state provides another opportunity to Lalu Prasad Yadav and Tejashwi Yadav to ride the storm and emerge taller

Photo by Santosh Kumar/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Photo by Santosh Kumar/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

S Khurram Raza

A minister in the Modi Cabinet once said “Paristhithyan badalti hain toh prathmiktayen badal jaati hain (Priorities change with the change in circumstances)”. But Nitish Kumar does not require any change in circumstances to change his priorities. He changes his priorities as and when it suits him.

The script of the drama enacted by Nitish was doing the rounds for long but the smoothness with which the final act was enacted in Patna showed how great a political artist Nitish is. Everything, from resignation to taking oath again as Chief Minister, was so perfect that it is bound to raise questions about the way in which the whole thing was planned.

The drama, however, that unfolded in Patna on Wednesday could well prove to be a turning point in the politics of Bihar. With the BJP government at the centre, it proved to be smooth sailing for Nitish Kumar but the days ahead may not be as smooth because unwittingly Nitish Kumar and BJP have helped Tejashwi Yadav to take a huge political leap.

By putting the focus on Tejashwi Yadav and placing him at the centre of the political conflict, they may have helped engineer a blessing in disguise for Lalu Prasad Yadav in establishing his son as a future political leader of Bihar. Yesterday’s drama could turn out to be a political blunder by Nitish and the BJP.

Even his dire opponents concede that few political leaders are better than Lalu Prasad Yadav in taking issues to the streets and that he knows the pulse of the common man. Lalu, as he showed in the past, has the ability to withstand pressure and challenges ranging from defection by party men to pressure of criminal cases and jail terms and yet retain the loyalty and affection of a large section of the people.

Muslims and Yadavs of Bihar present a strong political combination. And Lalu has been consistent in upholding the interests of the weak, the poor and the vulnerable along with those of the minorities. This is what makes him formidable and a politician who matters in Indian politics.

So, what we are seeing right now is the picture of today but not necessarily the picture of the future. Recently, I was in Goa and met several people from all walks of life. I was surprised that in spite of Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar’s penchant for being a people’s person, even people who are fond of him had no hesitation in saying that they had voted for the Congress but the BJP snatched power away from the Congress.

There was an undercurrent of resentment against the BJP led-government in Goa. Similarly, the backdoor entry by BJP to gain power in Bihar can well boomerang on it as sentiments turn against it. The sentiments which I encountered in Goa could well be sentiments that echo in Bihar.

In any case, the political upheaval in the state would appear to have given a fresh lease of life to Lalu Prasad Yadav and Tejashwi Yadav. In the next election, if Nitish Kumar does survive as CM till then, he would have run out of scapegoats and excuses and age will not be on his side. It will clearly be foolish to write off Lalu as a political force or Tejashwi Yadav as a future political leader.

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