Delete Laloo Enter Nitish

That the power to change the course of political history lies with the people has once again being amply demonstrated in Bihar with the electorate voting against Laloo Prasad Yadav who for the last 15 years donned the mantle of a messiah—a voice for the voiceless but later ominously turned into a nemesis for the way he manipulated the system to hang on to his seat of power ala Rabri Devi. Despite being ousted as Chief Minister, following his involvement in the fodder scam, Laloo tactfully brought his wife from the confines of the kitchen to the center of power and in the process threw all democratic norms to the wind. Voters in Bihar have now pushed the delete button for Laloo paving the way for his former ideologue Nitish Kumar to now bring some form of respectability to the image of Bihar. The vote for change in Bihar also goes to show the character of the voters to distinguish between what is right and wrong for their own welfare and each single vote would have made a difference for this change that was long overdue.

Even as Nitish Kumar takes over the reigns of power in Patna, an enigma for many political observers is what had made it possible for the relative political stability in the Bihar badlands in spite of Laloo’s land continually slipping into the quagmire of non-development, poverty and lawlessness. As Laloo walks into the sunset, the answer to this may as well be the legacy he will leave behind; his politics of social engineering which brought him to the center stage and kept him there all these years and ironically also did him in at the end.  

The biggest challenge for the coming dispensation under Nitish Kumar would more than anything else would be in reversing the process that is still unfolding; the gradual withering of the state machinery in Bihar. Further, the moral of the mandate given by the voters is clear; strong state or no state the economic plight of the poor people must change and Nitish more than anyone else would know that he comes to Patna to make this change a political reality. 

It would also be of interest to see in the coming days on how the JD (U) and the BJP will do business together as both have their own constituencies to nurture. Nitish cannot be indifferent to the upper and middle class from where the BJP draws its strength and neither can he side step the political aspirations of the underprivileged classes. Nitish will also be challenged on the ‘Ram’ factor and in the long run, how he handles this could either break or further his political standing. He would have to walk a fine balance between accommodating his BJP allies while safeguarding his secular credentials. Nitish need not look further than former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu who along with his party the Telegu Desam Party were made to pay a heavy price at the hustings for their liaison with the BJP.