‘End of ideology’ Phenomenon in Bihar Elections


  • May 7, 2024
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Ideological priority has become irrelevant, the only consideration being to secure a party-ticket to contest and attempt to capture political power for the majority of politicians, who have entered the electoral fray on behalf of different mainstream political parties in Bihar.

 

By Anish Ankur

May 7, 2024

 

End of ideologies thesis firsts emerged in the 1960s. The prominent exponents include Western scholars like Daniel Bell & Seymour Martin Lipset. They held that politics has lost relevance and economics has gained centrality, and argued that ideology will no longer be the guiding factor in future political life. They suggested, conflict of ideology has lost relevance even in domestic politics, arguing that the Welfares State has resolved the contradiction between labour and capital.

 

It seems, the 2024 general elections in Bihar are witnessing the phenomenon of ‘end of ideology’ more than it was predicted upon during the cold war in the 1960s. Ideological priority has become irrelevant, the only consideration being to secure a party-ticket to contest and attempt to capture political power for the majority of politicians, who have entered the electoral fray on behalf of different mainstream political parties in Bihar.

 

In every phase of the ongoing elections, we hear politicians sever ties with their party and shift to another party which is ideologically diametrically opposed to the party he belonged to. These politicians hop from one party to another, the singular objective being to win elections and become an MP or MLA at any cost. 

 

Ajay Nishad, the sitting BJP MP from Muzaffarpur shifted to Congress when BJP denied ticket to contest for another term. Ajay, who won the 2019 parliamentary election on a BJP ticket is now the Congress candidate from Muzaffarpur. The local BJP cadres owing allegiance to Ajay Nishad are now working for the Congress. The common voters are confused and in a fix about what to do in such a situation. 

 

Gulab Yadav, RJD leader contested the 2019 Lok Sabha election from Jhanjharpur but lost. He was elected to the Bihar Legislative Assembly from Jhanjharpur in 2015 as a member of the RJD. He switched over to BSP, when Jhanjharpur parliamentary seat went to Vikassheel Insan Party (VIP) led by Mukesh Sahni, part of the INDIA alliance in Bihar. Gulab Yadav is now contesting against the INDIA alliance candidate Suman Kumar Mahaseth from Vikassheel Insan Party (VIP). Suman Kumar is a former BJP-MLC, and he had contested as a VIP candidate in the 2020 assembly polls against the RJD-led grand alliance (Mahagathbandhan) nominee. There are numerous social media posts of Suman Kumar praising RSS and Narendra Modi but now he is fighting against the BJP-led NDA alliance. This created a lot of furor in the INDIA alliance. The Muslim minorities are also in a dilemma, how they can vote for a person who was in the RSS before crossing over to the secular INDIA alliance front. Senior leader of RJD and ex-MP of  Jhanjharpur, Devendra Yadav, revolted against his party over this issue and resigned from primary membership of the party. He was twice elected as an MP from Jhanjharpur as RJD candidate. 

 

Ali Ashraf Fatmi, when not able to get nomination as the JD(U) candidate from Darbhanga, simply crossed over to the RJD. RJD welcomed back Ali Ashraf, an old party loyalist, who had joined JD(U) in search of better prospects. Ali Ashraf is contesting from the Madhubani seat as RJD candidate in 2024 general elections.  

Karuna Sagar, ex-DGP of Tamilnadu, joined RJD after retirement in the hope of getting a ticket from Jehanabad parliamentary constituency. He is in the Congress from the last few days when  RJD didn’t field him, and instead gave nomination to strongman Surendra Yadav to contest from Jehanabad. 

 

Another criminal turned politician, Rama Singh, left RJD and is expected to join LJP(R). Rama Singh was hoping that he will get an RJD ticket from Vaishali but RJD preferred Munna Shukla, another politician with criminal background. Rama Singh’s wife is RJD MLA from Mahanar assembly constituency.

 

In Sheohar, Lavli Anand, wife of gangster-politician Aanand Mohan, is fighting on JD(U) symbol against RJD. Anand Mohan was serving life imprisonment in the murder of Dalit IAS officer G. Krishnaiya in1994. Aanand Mohan was released when JD(U) supremo and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar tweaked the State prison code to expedite his remission so that he can influence the voters of his caste. This controversial move of Nitish government has been challenged in the Supreme Court. Anand Mohan’s son Chetan Anand had won the 2020 assembly election as RJD candidate but crossed over to JD(U) during the trust vote of Nitish Kumar in February this year.

 

Hina Sahab announced her candidature as an independent from Siwan. She fought two previous parliamentary elections as an RJD nominee. Her husband, criminal turned politician late Mohammad Shahabuddin was an RJD MP for several terms. When asked, which party or ideology she will support if elected from Siwan, Hina Sahab said “I am neither here nor there. I am with the people of Siwan.”

 

Bulo Mandal from RJD became disappointed when the Bhagalpur parliamentary seat went to the Congress this time. In the 2014 general elections, Bulo Mandal had won after defeating BJP’s Muslim face Shahnawaj Hussain from Bhagalpur. Bulo has considerable influence in Bhagalpur, but he has now switched to the Nitish camp. Apart from Bhagalpur, his departure from RJD may also impact INDIA Alliance’s prospects in the neighbouring district of Munger.

 

In Munger, Neelam Devi, broke her relationship with RJD and shifted to JD(U) during the trust vote of Nitish, and she is now campaigning for JD(U) candidate in Munger. Her husband, facing a number of criminal cases, has also been released from prison on fifteen day parole, on the frivolous grounds of dissolution of family property dispute, to campaign for JD(U) candidate Lalan Singh.

 

In Maharajganj parliamentary constituency, Randhir Singh, son of another bahubali politician Prabhunath Singh, too left RJD when Congress Bihar’s president Akhilesh Singh managed to bag this seat for his son Akash Singh. Akash Singh had fought the 2019 parliamentary election on Upendra Kushavaha led RSLP.

 

In Valmiki Nagar, RJD’s candidate Dipak Yadav was earlier in the BJP. Dipak Yadav’s social media posts in praise of Savarkar are there for everyone to see. This time, he is now contesting against the same party BJP, who’s principal icon is ‘Hindu Hriday Samrat’ Savarkar.

 

The most interesting drama is going on in Samastipur, where children of two cabinet colleagues of Nitish Kumar are in the electoral fray against each other. Shambavi Chaudhry, daughter of Ashok Chaudhry, the Building Construction minister in the Nitish Cabinet is fighting on LJP(R) symbol led by Chirag Paswan against Sanni Hajari, son of Maheshwar Hajari, again a minister in JD(U) government. Nitish Kumar is in a dilemma about whom to support, as the father of both the candidates are  members of his cabinet. By the way, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar himself is the chief  protagonist of this opportunist trend in recent Bihar politics. Nitish is the best symbol of this phenomenon in Bihar called ‘Palturam’ or ‘Aya Ram, Gaya Ram’ in local parlance.

 

There are many more such examples, where allegiance to parties have been changed overnight without any ideological stand. Although this had happened in the past also, now we are witnessing it on a much wider scale. This trend has become a cause of concern among the conscious citizens of Bihar. According to senior journalist Kamlesh Verma, “In this election we are witnessing that ideology has no meaning for the candidates. The only objective is to secure a ticket from whichever political party it suits.” 

 

Five constituencies in Bihar — Jhanjharpur, Supaul, Araria, Madhepura, Khagaria — are going to polls for the third phase on May 7. In 2019 NDA had won all these five seats. Supaul, Jhanjharpur and Madhepura are currently held by JD(U) which has given tickets to respective sitting MPs. One seat was held by BJP while another was won by VIP, part of NDA during the 2019 parliamentary election.

 

Another sign of the “end of ideology” phenomenon is the absence of people’s issues in the elections. Issues impacting common people’s lives are being neglected by all the contesting parties. For example, Jhanjharpur constituency is badly affected by natural disasters. Floods, unemployment, migration and demand for a separate district have long dominated political discourse in Jhanjharpur but all those issues are invisible in this election.

 

Every year, Khagaria faces a devastating flood, but the government doesn’t take any remedial measures. The issue was not raised during the election campaign. Same trend is observed in every constituency. Caste loyalties, religious polarisation, and mud-slinging against political opponents are the only issues being raised by all the mainstream political parties.

 

Although there are some voices who are trying to raise serious issues but are not getting the media attention it deserves. Take for example Prof. Akhilesh Kuma of Patna Science College, who is contesting as an independent candidate from Araria parliamentary constituency. His message is clear: it does not matter whether you vote for me or not but please do not sell your vote. Appeal is also being made to beware of candidates who are asking people to vote in the name of caste, religion and sect.

 

Although Akhilesh Kumar is getting respect for his issue based novel campaign, at the same time he is not taken seriously and is no threat to the election system monopolised by political parties. And the political leaders chosen as people’s representatives switch party loyalty and allegiance without any consideration of people’s will or ideological position. Expressing serious concern on this scenario, social activist associated with ‘Citizens Forum’, Patna Arun Kumar Mishra, said  “Its sign of neo-liberal era when elections have become a commodity. If candidates are considered as a saleable thing then the question of ideology simply does not arise. For almost every political party, with the exception of the Left parties, the winnability factor is the only criterion in an election. Ideology takes a back seat. No one cares for ideology. You can say that it is the era of ‘End of ideology’ phenomenon in the Bihar election.”

 

Anish Ankur is a freelance journalist based in Patna, Bihar.

 

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8
  • comments
    By: Dr Sudhir Kumar on May 7, 2024

    Nice sir

  • comments
    By: vijendra kumar on May 7, 2024

    In that very dark situation our constitution has work as a lamppost 🪔 . We must consult Our Constitution for one to all problems.
    Our Constitution is solution.

  • comments
    By: Sunil Jha on May 7, 2024

    Thanks for writing such a beautiful piece. The article has taken the readers to every such constituency where such ideological extinctions are pretty much evident. Tje end of ideology is also a strong reason behind voters’ apathy in this general elections.

  • comments
    By: vijendra kumar on May 7, 2024

    Ideology is good thing but this is not a country. Country made for ordinary people. So, we should must think for people problems and try to provide solution asper Our constitution. So , in my view we should try to forget ideology and remember Our Constitution for each and every problems.

  • comments
    By: vijendra kumar on May 7, 2024

    Renaissance again

  • comments
    By: Jitendra Kumar on May 7, 2024

    Fine political analysis of 2024lok sabha election in Bihar.Isee no ideological difference among parties you named in your article.Only their names are different.

  • comments
    By: Dr Vidyarthi Vikas on May 8, 2024

    Author rightly commented on degradation of Ideology in Bihar, while it is a womb of different ideology i.e, socialism, marxim-leninism, buddhism, janism, secularism!

  • comments
    By: Arun Kumar Singh on May 8, 2024

    Authentic analysis of the situation of elections in Bihar. I agree that ideology has been put on back burner and identity politics and sheer opportunism prevail. You did not mention about tickets being sold by most parties. In this murky scenario one can hardly expect any significant policy initiative to develop Bihar, a state at the bottom of the development ladder.

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