oppn parties A Marriage of Convenience in Bihar: Will it Last?

News Snippets

  • Special DG (Training) in CRPF, S N Shrivastava, appointed special commissioner (law & order) in Delhi Police in order to quell the violence. He is also expected to take over as chief of Delhi police once Amulya Patnaik's term ends on February 29
  • Curfew and shoot at sight orders reportedly in force in some areas, but Delhi Police HQ does not issue a notice for the same
  • The Central government has pressed paramilitary forces to control the riots in Delhi
  • Mobs in Delhi target journalists, check them for religious identity and snatch equipment
  • 13 people deal until now in one of the worst spells of violence in Delhi
  • Violence in Delhi shows no signs of abating with fresh areas in the north-eastern part of the capital coming under its grip
  • Delhi High Court says DGCA was wrong in approving the flying ban on stand-up comic Kunal Kamra by airlines other than Indigo for his alleged misbehavior with TV anchor Arnab Goswami aboard an Indigo flight
  • The Bihar assembly passes a resolution to stick to the old NPR form, making it the first NDA state to do so
  • Arms deal for advanced helicopters, worth $3bn, signed with the US, but the trade deal remains elusive
  • Trump says he has a good equation with Pak PM Imran Khan and assures India that Pakistan is working to reduce cross border terrorism
  • Trump once again offers to mediate in the Kashmir issue
  • Trump says it is up to India to decide on the CAA
  • US President Donald Trump says PM Modi wants religious freedom for all
  • US President Donald Trump lands in Ahmedabad, received at the airport by Prime Minister Modi
  • US President Donald Trump to land in India today
Continuing violence in Delhi takes the sheen off the visit by US President Donald Trump
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A Marriage of Convenience in Bihar: Will it Last?

By Sunil Garodia
First publised on 2015-09-24 17:14:51

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.
Even as Lalu Prasad proposed that a united Janat Parivar fight the ensuing Bihar assembly elections under the leadership of Nitish Kumar, two things stood out. One, Lalu was the only one not smiling in the pictures published in the media post the announcement (see picture). Two, in subsequent interviews to the media, Lalu said that he is ready to “drink poison to crush the cobra of communalism.”

Now, the lack of a smile clearly showed that he proposed Nitish’s name under duress, while everyone knows that if you drink poison, you either have to vomit to throw it out or bear the consequences. Knowing Lalu, he will not bear the consequences. He will throw out the poison so that Nitish will bear more than just the consequences. Congress has played the role of matchmaker due to its own compulsions. It has stopped making a mark in Bihar in last several elections. It needs the straw of this alliance to remain afloat. But this alliance of convenience is doomed to failure, as the many such experiments before it.

The real fun will start over seat sharing. It is very easy to say that Nitish will be candidate for chief minister. But when it comes to selecting candidates for individual seats, many factors come into play. Having conceded the top post to Nitish, Lalu will now want to bargain hard to have more MLAs in place in case there is a leadership tussle in future. Nitish, on the other hand, will want to consolidate his position in the assembly by having a majority of his people. Add to this the requirements of other allies like the Congress and the NCP and you have a situation that is waiting to go out of hand.

Further, it is very difficult to have ordinary workers who were fighting each other for the last so many years to change in a few months and start working together. Apart from built in mistrust, there are caste and communal factors that keep them at each others’ throats. Then, since the ordinary worker himself will not be convinced of the stability of the alliance, he will be unconvincing when explaining the same to the voters.

An alliance of local leaders with small parties at state level is in theory best placed to challenge and defeat big national parties in state elections. But theories falter when put in to practice. This alliance will give headaches to the BJP and force it to change its strategy in Bihar, but its stability is in doubt due to the frequent ego clashes between its top leadership.