Musical chairs in Bihar

The most interesting question for the common man today is how did Laloo Yadav manage to amass so much wealth, writes Ajit Chak

Nitish Kumar is the new CM in Bihar and the grand secular alliance is dead. Rahul Gandhi may call him an opportunist but the rift between the coalition partners had widened considerably and while it was obvious from day one that there was a power struggle on between Laloo Prasad Yadav and Nitish for supremacy in matters of importance in Bihar. For Nitish it was high cost to pay for keeping the BJP at bay.
When the allegations against Laloo began to pile up and as his woes increased with each revelation it became an embarrassment for Nitish to hang on to the alliance.
On one side he had to project that he was secular and opposed to all communal forces and on the other side he had to ensure his own position as one opposed to corruption.
Laloo during his tenure as the CM of Bihar or as the Railway Minister never had to choose either in favour of anti-corruption or in favour or secularism.
It was a matter of time only that the differences in the Bihar coalition became irreconcilable and the two parted ways.
In a dramatic turn of events Nitish Kumar resigned from the post of the CM to take oath as the new CM of Bihar with the support of the BJP which now has a stake in Bihar as well. All’s well that ends well for the BJP as the saying goes but there are lessons here for those who wish to promote their sons in politics.
Laloo Yadav like all fathers failed to be a smart politician when it came to deciding how to tackle the situation regarding Tejaswi Yadav. Laloo was apprehensive that Nitish may sack Tejaswi and even Rahul Gandhi a member of the Bihar Coalition was given notice by Nitish but failed to act in time to save the coalition.
For Laloo Yadav the fact that he has been ousted from the seat of power in Bihar comes at a very wrong time. His family is today facing cases ranging from scams in the Railways to proxy owned properties or benami properties. Especially in a soup is his daughter Misa Bharti and her husband.
The ouster of Laloo will provide the investigators with an incentive to pursue the matter more vigorously and Laloo will lose whatever insulation power could provide him with against hard investigation.
In a desire to protect his son Laloo lost the bigger plot and maybe he failed to foresee this step by Nitish. While it is too late for Laloo to retreat and come up with a new compromise formula the biggest loser in this game is Rahul Gandhi who could have played peace broker.
Today the Grand Secular Allaince of Bihar lies shattered and in ruins because a father could not take the harsh decision of sacking his son to save his party. Laloo Yadav despite being a wily politician has lost the biggest battle of his life today in the state where he had given a fresh lease of political life to Nitish Kumar once.
The lessons of the fallout in Bihar are many and political analysts feel that Nitish had little option but to chose to ally with a party that is at power in the Centre to speed up development in Bihar. Political observers also feel that this will come at a cost as Nitish who could have emerged as the Third Front’s Prime Minister Candidate will now remain a satrap in Bihar at the beck and call of the BJP. In the war between Laloo Yadav and Nitish Kumar, the latter has won the battle but may have lost the bigger war.
However Nitish is a seasoned politician and may have foreseen that given the prevailing situation there is very little the Third Front – which the Congress could easily sabotage – as it sabotaged opposition unity on the Presidential Candidate issue – may achieve in the coming Lok Sabha elections. He preferred real politik to hanging on to an alliance all for the sake of maintaining a false garb of secularism.
The most important lesson of the fallout in Bihar is that the crackdown on black money and shell companies by the government will throw up interesting political results all over the nation. It was in Tamil Nadu that the Sasikala had to go to jail following a court verdict in a DA case. Several other political leaders are involved in DA cases and so are private individuals related to them.
From Bihar to Pakistan Corruption or rather highlighting corruption is becoming a way of removing political leaders from their post. The laws in India make it clear that if a politician is sentenced in a case his political career is over.
The other result that may be follow suit will be disdain for the corrupt in the social media. How far this will translate into votes however remains hard to predict as the voting patterns in a state are still determined by social forces that operate on the basis of caste and creed and community rather than development and honesty.
On the face of it Nitish Kumar has managed to change allies to weed out corruption in Bihar politics but even those who are not in the business of politics are taking this with a pinch of salt.
Nevertheless two questions are uppermost in the minds of most who have been watching events unfold in Bihar more like a bollywood film than anything else.
Firstly they are amazed at the manner and extent of the wealth accumulated by the Yadav family. How this was done through a complex web of shell companies and how this has exposed the nexus between the politician and the industrialist out for government favours is a shocker for most.
Secondly they want to know whether it is possible to put an end to corruption in political life and ensure that politicians and those in power remain honest.
The joke doing the rounds in Bihar today is that Misa Bharti the daughter of the Yadav household bought a house in Friends Colony in New Delhi for only Rs 5000.
Anand Lal Bannerjee the former Director General of Police in Uttar Pradesh quote Kautilya when asked this question. “It is very difficult to say when a fish is drinking water,” he says.
Similarly when people in power begin to take undue favours and money for certain activities it is very difficult to pin point this when they are in power as the system works under them. It is only when they are out of political favour or out of power then can these activities be highlighted.
Bihar like Uttar Pradesh came under the spell of caste politics in the end of the 1980s and is still struggling to come out of its grasp. Development seasoned politicians insist does not create vote banks.
However politicians today do not have the vision that politicians had earlier. Development based politics was different. Politicians created employment opportunities and set up PSUs and factories and these were then used to create unions and associations which became vote banks for the parties.
The new generation of politicians believes in creating expressways and highways and beautification drives. This kind of development may ensure a hefty commission for the contractors, engineers and politicians involved in the projects but does not ensure a vote bank. So the caste system prevails and politicians have to fall back on it to keep themselves alive in politics. They also need to spend money to buy votes allege political observers.
The Laloo saga has set the social media wag wondering what other politicians are up to. There are so many, says a social worker and event manager Yashwant Dhwaj Shah who comes from the royal family of Nepal and resides in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
We have superrich politicians in Uttar Pradesh too and while action is being taken against Gayatri Prajapati we feel there are several from the ruling family and close to the family who need to be investigated. Politicians have built empires from Hardoi to Noida and Bareilly to Ghaziabad. Their children drive cars that cost more than bungalows in prime colonies of Lucknow and Noida so how will this ill gotten money be recovered asks Shah. The present government seems willing to overlook things till the Lok Sabha elections he alleges.
So while Bihar and Tamil Nadu are facing selective clean up of the corrupt the state of Uttar Pradesh is being left alone right now as it is felt that a large chunk of the embattled Samajwadi Family may ally with the BJP in the coming Lok Sabha elections.
We need to place limitations and curbs on the unbridled power that politicians enjoy when they come to power. While the way ahead may not be clear at present there are some suggestions.
For one there should be a limit on the number of terms a person can run for government. No one should be allowed to run for office more than twice which means after 10 years they will be accountable to the public at large being ordinary citizens and this may act as a disincentive for corruption. But political families will find ways to go around this rule too as even in the USA Hillary was being used to bring the Clintons back to the White House, however Trump triumphed and the attempt failed, says Shah.
Of course all political entities should make a public declaration of their assets and electronic surveillance needs to be strengthened to ensure that the scourge of black money ends. Maybe then politicians will not be able to make so much money that it costs them their jobs, he quips.
Lastly secularism is fast becoming the ultimate refuge of the corrupt. The corrupt should not be pardoned merely because they claim to be secular.

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