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[15 Nov 2010 | View Comments | ]
Congress – Sitting pretty

Among the top five major political parties in Bihar, Congress is the only one sitting pretty. While it may still be miles away from forming a government on its own, yet it is assured of gains, from the depths it had fallen to. Present elections will help Congress wipe clean the stigma of having aligned with Lalu for so long. Everyone agrees that the party gambit of going alone in U.P. and Bihar is a longer term investment which would pay dividends eventually. The party is highly enthused by Rahul’s magic that enabled them to do fairly well in the neighboring U.P. state elections. They are hoping for an encore in Bihar too. Congress seems all set to better its performance despite having reorganised its state unit a number of times in the past few years.

Elections, Featured »

[6 Nov 2010 | View Comments | ]
LJP – A House Deserted

Ramvilas Paswan seems to have made the most famous blunder of this election. At the end of a successful, war of nerves with RJD supermo, Lalu Prasad to bargain for maximum number of seats for LJP in their alliance, he announced the name of his younger brother Pashupati Nath Paras as LJP nominee for Deputy Chief Minister along with RJD’s Lalu Prasad Yadva as the Chief Ministerial candidate. In one stroke he undid all the gains of previous election when he had thrown the bait of a ‘Muslim’ Chief Minister landing both Lalu and Nitish in a fix. This time around he tried to silently bury his insistence of ‘Muslim’ CM, replacing it with the candidature of his younger brother. What followed was a virtual desertion.

Elections, Featured »

[29 Oct 2010 | View Comments | ]
BJP – A House Divided

BJP in Bihar is plagued with the same problem that is troubling it at the Centre: infighting. The state unit is a divided lot. Just like at the Centre, leaders are busy fighting among themselves instead of fighting the opposition. What is peculiar to BJP however is that those who are unhappy, sulk, and harm the party from inside, instead of walking out. Origins of dissension within state BJP though could also be traced to its inability to stand up to the pressures exerted by its dominant partner, JDU. From being the leader of the opposition through out the RJD rule to becoming the deputy Chief Minister, Sushil Modi has always played second fiddle. Not many would remember that JDU started off as a junior partner in NDA alliance in its previous avatar of “Samata Party”. Slowly it consolidated its position and took on the role of ‘big brother’ in the alliance after the separation of Jharkhand from Bihar. Some people would recall the first reshuffle of the Nitish government in Bihar, where non performing Ministers were dropped from cabinet. BJP was forced to drop a couple of its Ministers even though they were performing well to appease Nitish Kumar. The portfolios of all its other Ministers too, except the Deputy CM were reshuffled. Sushil Modi was accused of being hand in glove with Nitish and internal revolt started brewing from there on, both in JDU and BJP. While Nitish was able to crush internal dissent within JDU with an iron hand, Modi neither had the inclination nor the wherewithal to the act decisively, leaving the problem to fester. In the present Bihar Elections BJP has become the weak link in the NDA chain.

Elections, Featured »

[24 Oct 2010 | View Comments | ]
How many lives does Lalu have?

Lalu Yadav is fighting a battle for political survival, with his back to the wall. He has been in similar situations before. Several times in the past, his political career seemed to ebb, but he always managed to bounce back. First, mid way through his second term as Chief Minister of Bihar in 1997, when he was arrested by CBI in Fodder scam, people wrote him off. But he sprung a surprise by anointing his illiterate wife as Chief Minister and still managed to rule by proxy for another 8 years. Even after 15 years in power, when he lost the assembly elections in 2005, the opposition could not muster enough numbers to form a government, forcing the imposition of President’s rule. By then he was already installed in the Centre as Railways Minister in UPA – I government headed by Manmohan Singh. Towards the end of the year, in a repeat election, when he decisively lost and along with Rabri Devi had to vacate 1 Anne Marg, the official residence of Chief Minister, it again looked like curtains for him. Yet he managed to rise again and create a larger than life image as Railways Minster. He seemingly turned around the near bankrupt Railways and became the cynosure of IIM students and corporate honchos alike, teaching them management lessons. It however ended with his party badly losing the 2009 Parliamentary Elections and Congress dumping him from the cabinet. The Bihar Assembly Elections 2010 present him with an opportunity to redeem lost glory. However this time around, the political context seems to have changed dramatically. Five years of Nitish’s administration have modified the rules of the game. Lalu is hoping that like the nine offsprings that he has, he might just have nine lives in politics too.

Elections »

[18 Oct 2010 | View Comments | ]
Why is Nitish wary before the crucial Elections in Bihar?

On the face of it, JDU seems to be sitting pretty. Its Chief Minister, Nitish Kumar has swept an impressive list of awards during his tenure including Business reformer of the year award by ET (2009), Indian of year award by NDTV (2009) & CNN-IBN(2008), Best Chief Minister award by CNN-IBN, HT (2007) etc..The opposition claims that much of the development is an urban phenomenon and the conditions of the rural masses have only worsened. Their hope is that the rural population will not be swayed by the development agenda of Nitish Kumar and will vote on traditional issues of caste alignment and will even punish Nitish for his elitism. Behind the bonhomie and confidence of Nitish Kumar, his tension too is palpable thanks largely to the drubbing that NDA got during the last bye-elections held in 2009 where it could muster just 5 (JDU-3, BJP-2) out of 18 seats and the RJD-LJP combine notched up 9 seats and Congress 2 seats. But in a way the defeat has also served as an early warning signal to him and prevented him from going overboard in trumpeting his achievements. In fact he shrewdly refers to his own failure in the energy sector by declaring it as his next priority if he wins this election. He also contrasts his 5 years of rule with the 15 years of RJD and 40 years of Congress and calls his governance as work still in progress.

Elections, Featured »

[9 Oct 2010 | View Comments | ]
How Bihar Elections can change the course of Indian Politics?

Bihar assembly elections slated to be held from October 21 to November 20, 2010 are unique in many ways. They are the first of its kind where elections are sought to be fought over ‘measurable’ performance. Elections in India have always been fought on amorphous issues – issues of political alignment of castes, slogans, secularism, anti-incumbency or weak opposition. Elections are never fought over the number of jobs created, number of bridges made, new roads laid, Megawatts of generation capacity added, number of criminals convicted, number of children enrolled, drinking water, sanitation etc.. Yet Nitish broke with tradition by promising five years ago that he would not seek another mandate if he is unable to deliver on these issues. It is time now to evaluate whether he has done enough or not.