INDIA Alliance’s ‘Jan Vishwas Rally’ in Patna: A Big Political Challenge for BJP in Bihar


  • March 16, 2024
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How the ‘Jan Vishwas Rally’ has infused a new life in the INDIA Alliance block in Bihar, a commentary by Anish Ankur from Patna

 

Bihar is continuously posing a political challenge to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) from the last one and half month. The 3 March ‘Jan Vishwas Rally’ was the first rally of INDIA block in the Hindi heartland. After the crossing over of Nitish Kumar to NDA, this mammoth rally at historic Gandhi Maidan, Patna has boosted the morale of anti- BJP forces across the country. Gandhi Maidan witnessed a massive rally in recent history.

 

The presence of host of INDIA block national leaders like former chief minister Lalu Prasad, former deputy chief minister Tejasvi Yadav, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Congress national president Mallikarjun Khadge, former chief minister of UP Akhilesh Prasad Yadav, CPI general secretary D.Raja, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI (ML- Liberation) general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya have a very serious political significance for anti-NDA parties.

 

 

The entire Gandhi Maidan was filled with Red and Green flags. Almost every leader’s speech carried a tone of hope and enthusiasm and the crowd reciprocated them with greetings.

 

Before this rally two MLA each of RJD and Congress switched over to the NDA camp, therefore there was a sense of despair among the Mahagathbandhan partners.

 

After Nitish Kumar led JD(U) switched over to BJP, INDIA block faced a crisis but within a few days it recovered and posed a serious political challenge during the trust vote of Nitish Kumar led NDA government in the Bihar Assembly. The entire machinery at the disposal of the BJP government – ED, CBI, Intelligence department – had to be used to manage the required strength during the trust vote. From that day onward BJP was hell bent on wooing the MLAs of RJD and Congress. Till now four MLAs of INDIA block now seat with the treasury benches within the Bihar Assembly.

 

BJP’s first list of candidates for parliamentary seats didn’t figure Bihar. Bihar has always been a thorn in the BJP political design in the Hindi-belt since it is the only state where BJP have not been able to come to power on the basis of its own strength. Till now the Bihar unit of BJP always needed a political partner in the state. This partner is Nitish Kumar from the last two and half decades. Nitish Kumar was the first major political personality who provided BJP the required political legitimacy when he joined NDA in 1999. Before 1999 BJP was considered as a political pariah in the whole country. No political party was willing to go with BJP due to dis-reputation it brought after the demolition of Babri Mosque on Dec 6, 1992.

 

BJP desperation can be felt by its national as well as state level leader’s statements. BJP Bihar unit now don’t want to run the state with others help, therefore they are trying to replicate the model the party adopted in other states, like Maharashtra, by  somehow bringing MLAs of different parties to its fold either by intimidating them or by some murky dealings.

 

But the March 3 rally’s resounding success has proved that the RJD, Congress and Left parties are not going to give up their fight so easily.

 

The speeches of the INDIA block leaders marked a big change in their fight against the BJP- corporate-communal alliance. The speech of Rahul Gandhi and Tejasvi Yadav at the rally is indicative of the prevalent mood where they seemed determined to take this fight to the arena of material demands. Rahul Gandhi is the first Congress leader who is attacking the BJP’s favourite corporate house in clear terms. Rahul Gandhi is combining social issues with economic exploitation. “Narendra Modi waived off loans of 16 lakh crores rupees of corporate houses. How many rupees of loans of farmers and labourers have been waived off? 73 percent of people consisting of 50 percent backward caste, 15 percent scheduled castes and 8 percent Adivasis get a share of only six rupee out of hundred”, he said.

 

Tejasvi Yadav has shed the social justice phraseology of Lalu era, and is now giving more emphasis on economic justice. Tejasvi Yadav coined the word MY-BAAP. MY is popularly referred to as Muslim-Yadav equation while BAAP means (Bahujan, Aurat (Women), Agada (Forward caste) and Poor). Tejasvi also reminded the people that only due to him that youth got more than three lakh jobs in the state. Now Bihar is embarking on a new path where apart from social oppression the economic agenda is coming to the forefront in the politics of both the Congress and RJD. To put it differently both these parties are talking in the language of the left parties.

 

Lalu Prasad was the last speaker at the ‘Jan Vishwas Rally’. He attacked Naredra Modi directly for now following the Hindu tradition of shaving off one’s head after the death of parents. First time Lalu Prasad attacked BJP in their comfort zone. After that the entire BJP is responding to the Lalu Prasad barb at Narendra Modi.

 

Akhilesh Yadav talked about posing a challenge in all the 80 seats of UP and 40 of Bihar. He said “If we collectively give them an effective fight on 120 seats of UP and Bihar then it will be difficult for BJP to form the next government at the centre.”

 

Most of the leaders laid emphasis on the role of Bihar in always giving leadership to big issues. Sitaram Yechury of CP(M) and Rahul Gandhi of Congress particularly gave importance to this point. According to Sitaram Yechury “The way to Indraprastha (Delhi) goes through the Patliputra (Patna).” Yechury also mentioned the role of  Jaiprakash Narayan led student movement during the emergency in this context.

 

Although the red flag was prominent in the rally ground, it didn’t figure in the main banner, which only carried the photograph of Lalu Prasad and Tejasvi Yadav. Congress party’s mobilisation was nowhere near to that of RJD and Left parties.

 

To counter the impact of ‘Jan Vishwas Rally’ BJP has organised two consecutive meetings of Narendra Modi on 1st March and 6th March. The Prime Minister announced a lot of packages for the state from those rallies. Even RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat camped in Bihar for four days. Union Home Minister Amit Shah also attended a rally in Aurangabad, 140 KM north of Patna.

 

Nitish Kumar’s entry into the NDA fold has unsettled the equation of old partners like Chirag Paswan led LJP. Chirag Paswan is particularly upset with Nitish Kumar returning back to NDA. Chirag Paswan, like his shrewd father, bargained hard with BJP, and finally got five parliamentary seats for his faction. RJD was also trying to woo Chirag Paswan by offering him eight parliamentary seats. RJD’s generous offer to Chirag Paswan brought BJP under pressure and they conceded five seats to him, a clear indication of the increasing pressure after the March 3 rally.

 

Bihar has 40 parliamentary seats. In 2019 NDA bagged 39 out of those 40 seats. 16 to JD(U), 17 to BJP and 6 to LJP. After the death of Ramvilas Paswan, LJP got divided between the son and brother of the late Paswan. Five out of six MPs are with Pashuparti Kumar Paras led Rashtriya Lok Janshakti Party (RSLP) and Chirag Paswan is the lone MP of his faction. The BJP was finding it very difficult to balance the two factions of the LJP. Both factions claimed the Hajipur parliamentary seat but BJP tilted in favour of the Chirag Paswan group.

 

Both the electoral alliances are busy in finalising their seat sharing. Apart from Nitish Kumar and Chirag Paswan, BJP has to adjust many smaller parties like Upendra Kushwaha led RLSP, Jitanram Manjhi led HAM(S) and Mukesh Sahni led VIP. It is going to be very challenging for BJP to accommodate the aspirations of all these smaller parties. Unless it is done Bihar is going to be the toughest battleground for BJP in the Hindi speaking region.  

  

The 3rd March Jan Vishwas rally has set the agenda of the electoral battle in Bihar. JD(U) and BJP campaign teams are busy in giving answers to Tejaswi Yadav’s claim that he was instrumental in providing jobs to thousands of youths in the state. To be sure, Nitish Kumar is trying hard to take the credit for so many jobs. Patna is witnessing a very aggressive campaign from NDA by giving credit to Nitish Kumar for the jobs given during the Grand Alliance government.

 

During the Mahagathbandhan (INDIA block) rule in the state, from August 2022 to January 2024, two major initiatives took place; one was caste survey, while another was providing government jobs to thousands of youths. And it has posed a big political challenge for the BJP because no other state ruled by BJP took such pro-people measures.

 

The one-and-half year rule of the INDIA block in Bihar and the propagation of its main achievements at the 3rd March rally have thrown a tough challenge for the NDA in Bihar. Till now BJP has not been able to counter it effectively.

 

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    By: Ramesh Singh on March 16, 2024

    Very good report. Excellent

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    By: Nikhil jha on March 16, 2024

    बेहतरीन रिपोर्टिंग है।पर सीपीआई के नेता क्या मैसेज देना चाहते थे पता नही चल पाया।।

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