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Nitish's tightrope walking is a façade
Dalit leaders upset with JD-U leader's antics
By Arun Srivastava
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar might not have imagined in his dreams that he would lose his political ground, prepared assiduously over the years within a short span of 100 days of assuming leadership of the NDA government in the state.

His JD(U) which appeared to be a monolithic forum of his chums and supporters, has already started developing cracks .The most potent threat has come from his two close comrade in arms: national general secretary Shyam Razak and former Assembly speaker Uday Narayan Choudhary. Both have been his trouble shooters.

While both opposed the demand for a review of the reservation policy, they outrightly blamed prime minister Narendra Modi for trying to do away with the quota in promotions and introducing the provision of creamy layer for SCs and STs. Significantly, they aired their grievances from the open forum Vanchit Varg Morcha. It obviously implied that the Nitish Kumar government was passive spectator to the machinations of the Modi government and is not really interested in protecting the interest of the dalits and mahadalits.

They regretted that the MLAs of their JD(U) party were mum on the issue because they feared denial of ticket in the next assembly election. This move of the two leaders also implied that Nitish was not serious about the socio-economic issues the dalits and mahadalits were facing. Their outburst was so embarrassing for Nitish that the state president of JD(U) came out openly warning the two leaders of strict disciplinary action such as expulsion from the party.

Though undeterred by the threat, the two leaders are going ahead with their mission to mobilise the dalits and mahadalits in their favour. Choudhary said he was prepared to face any action by the party but would continue raising the voice of the dalits. He also supported JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav: "I have worked with Sharad for 18 years and if I decide to go with him, I would not do it clandestinely".

What has caused much consternation to Nitish is that his arch rival, rather enemy number one, Lalu Yadav has lapped up the issue. He has not only extended full moral support to Razak and Choudhary, but also issued a statement in support of the dalits and mahadalits. While hailing the statements Rajak and Choudhary, Lalu said; "reservation for dalits is under attack from various quarters. The Nitish government is also trying to suppress the voice of dalits and unprivileged. Nitish was always an anti-reservation politician."

In a major development, the Rebel JD(U) group led by Sharad Yadav has been working on the mission to win over the support of the dalits and mahadalits. Only a couple of days ago many senior leaders of the Bihar unit of All India Backward (SC, ST, OBC) And Minority Communities Employees Federation, known as BAMCEF, an organization of employees from Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST), Other Backward Classes (OBC) and Minority Communities in India, launched by Kanshiram, merged their organization with the rebel JD(U). Undeniably this has been a major shock and setback for the state JD(U) and particularly for Nitish, who has been striving to emerge as the voice of the dalits and mahadalits. The rebel JD(U) will hold its national conference on March 11 in Delhi. The rebels are sure that more dalit leaders from Bihar would join them. The former Bengaluru police commissioner P.K. Ramaiah has also joined them.

There is a general feeling in the Nitish-led JD(U) that the leadership was giving due respect and recognition to the dalit leaders. Though Nitish has been mouthing the dalit jargons, he was solely dependent on the upper caste leaders for the functioning of the party. The dalit leaders have virtually no say in the party matters. Due to this the dalit and mahadalit leaders were nursing the feeling of being ignored.

In recent times cases of usurping of the funds meant for dalit and mahadalit students and schemes have also been exposed. The schemes have become the haunting ground for scams. If sources are to be believed, the two leaders would be joining the rebel JD(U) soon. Meanwhile, some dalit and mahadalit leaders from BJP are also in touch with the rebel JD(U) leaders. They feel hurt at the diktats of the backward caste leaders, who nurture anti-dalit feelings and approach. They have in fact brought this matter to the knowledge of the central leaders but so far no move has been initiated to redress the grievances.

Meanwhile, the leaders of ruling JD(U) faction are in a state of bewilderment at the silence of their general secretary and national spokesperson, Pavan Varma. Though he was against Nitish joining hands with Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, he preferred to maintain silence at that point of time. But now he has turned critical. Incidentally his statement on Election Commission not announcing the election dates for Gujarat was refuted by Nitish's close aide, JDU general secretary K.C. Tyagi, who in a terse statement questioned Varma's stand and said; "The party doesn't approve of the views expressed by Pavan Varma... he wasn't authorised to make such a statement and the expressed views are in his personal capacity. We have full faith in the functioning of the Election Commission."

The recent developments have unnerved Nitish Kumar and his aides to such an extent that they have now been indulging in a game of character assassination. The old timers recall that never in the past had the state seen such denigration of politics and its norms. Only a couple of days ago at least three senior JD(U) legislators and spokespersons flashed a photo of leader of Opposition Tejashvi Yadav with a girl with the view to maligning his public image. They alleged that RJD chief Lalu Prasad's youngest son was used to a life of revelry. The JD(U) also questioned the values of "Bihar's youth icon".

In response, Tejashvi alleged that it was nothing but JD(U)'s reaction to Nitish Kumar's "carefully cultivated image taking a beating following our exposes on corruption and illicit liquor trade in his rein". He also alleged; "the standard of politics hit rock bottom in Bihar today and this has been done at the behest of Nitish Kumar, who is upset that our relentless campaign against corruption and illicit liquor trade in his rein is tarnishing his image".

He also clarified; "the picture predates my entry into politics. It was clicked during my cricketing days. I wonder what is the JD(U) trying to prove by resorting to such tricks". Tejashwi also expressed surprise at this development: "I am amazed at the (low) level of the issues being raised. By this standard, we will also want to know why the chief minister prefers to stay at Dwarka in Delhi." JD(U)'s attack came days after Tejashvi released a picture of Rakesh Singh, accused in an old hooch case, with Nitish Kumar.

—(IPA Service)


News Updated at : Thursday, November 9, 2017
 
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