Emotions, exploitation and elections


It’s election season again. The battle for Patliputra is becoming acrim-onious. Incumbent chief minister Nitish Kumar’s ‘Grand Alliance’ is trying to take head on Prime Minister Modi’s model of governance and the latter telling the people that poll is an opportunity to prevent the return of Lalu Prasad’s style of Jungle Raj. Both the combine, directly and indirectly, are banking heavily on the caste factor—with BJP, as usual, adding its efforts for Hindu polarisation.

Of late, a tendency is growing to whip up emotions on one pretext or the other ahead of every election. While Prime Minister Narendra Modi is talking of making India a super power, his party and other outfits tries to raise emotive and intangible issues. The ongoing dietary curfew that began in Maharashtra and Rajasthan with the ban on meat during Jain community’s Paryushan festival, later spread to Chhattisgarh with a similar ban as well.

The manner in which the BJP government in different states followed suit indicates that someone else is pulling the strings to kick up debate on issues that cannot be touched, felt or have any physical presence. This obviously is aimed at diverting voter’s attention from core issues of poverty, unemployment and health. Raising emotive issues for political gains may yield temporary benefits but difficult to sustain for long.

Every political party in Bihar is trying to exploit different castes by wor-king out permutations and combinations in their favour in the elections yet they are taking about development and good governance agenda. Whoever wins, what Bihar needs is a concrete and time-bound agenda to contain regional imbalance in the state’s development plans.

Bihar election could also re-shape India’s political scenario. For the last two and a half decades, Bihar’s politics revolved around factions of Janata Dal Parivar. If the BJP-led NDA wins Bihar, after its humiliating defeat in Delhi assembly polls, Modi will re-gain his lost glory and will further consolidate his grip over the party with Amit Shah at the helm of affairs. Therefore, the BJP will try to convert the Modi wave into a storm to reap benefits in elections in other states.

On the other, victory of the Grand Alliance of JD (U), RJD and Congress in Bihar polls could catapult Nitish Kumar into a most important position in which he could become a rallying point against BJP at the national level. Besides, murmurings within the BJP could also become an outcry if the BJP loses Bihar.

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