Prime Minister Narendra Modi's NDA government at the Centre will complete three years in office later this month, and it's time to view the big picture in the two crucial cow-belt states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, which have the potential to topple BJP's gameplan under normal circumstances. While the saffron bandwagon is seen merrily galloping towards its 2019 target, anti-BJP forces appear to be in a state of disarray. At least for now.
Let's first shine the spotlight on Bihar where Lalu Prasad Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal, which happens to be the major alliance partner in Nitish Kumar's state government, looks bruised and battered in wake of the fresh land scam expose against the Yadav chieftain.
Income Tax authorities have already conducted raids at 22 locations in Delhi and Gurugram in connection with the alleged benami land deals of Lalu and Co. Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad called the land loot a case of "quid pro quo", as it dates back to the period when Lalu Yadav was railway minister. He also dared Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to take action against his partner.
But on his part, Nitish has lobbed a counter suggestion to the Centre. "If they have the documents connected with the alleged scam, they should take legal recourse to prove their accusations. This is not an issue that falls in the domain of the state government," he said.
Regardless of the fact that Nitish continues to maintain his poise and balance as always, what's significant is that his Janata Dal (United) has not yet taken a call on attending Lalu's proposed "BJP hatao, desh bachao" rally in Patna in August. Bashishtha Narain Singh, who heads the party's state unit organisationally, said, "There is still enough time left; we shall take a call at the proper time."
It may be recalled that Lalu has already invited top opposition leaders, including Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, Mamata Bannerjee, Navin Patnaik, HD Deve Gowda and many others for the proposed anti-BJP, anti- Narendra Modi show. He may or may not succeed in giving shape and substance to his ambitions, but one thing is clear: He possesses the proverbial cat's nine lives; he knows how to rise like a phoenix from the ashes. Remember the 2015 Assembly election in Bihar?
What we don't know for sure is whether he can reproduce the 'mahagathbandhan' magic on a national scale, especially at a time when his friendship with Nitish no longer looks rock solid. Within hours of I-T raids on properties linked to him, Lalu lost no time in putting out a tweet: "Congrats to BJP on new alliance partners." It wouldn't be surprising if the tweet fuels fresh speculation about the fate of the grand alliance in Bihar.
The scene in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh is equally chaotic. Mayawati and her erstwhile trusted lieutenant Naseemuddin Siddiqui continue to trade barbs endlessly. While the BSP supremo describes Siddiqui as a habitual blackmailer, the latter calls her an incorrigible gangster.
A day after Siddiqui and his son were shown the door for anti-party activities earlier this month, he told the press unequivocally: "On her direction, members of her gang kill people, set houses afire, beat up rivals, break their cars and issue threats as well… She demanded Rs 50 crore from me… When I failed to fulfill her demands, she sacked me… I'm also aware of all the investments made by her."
Meanwhile, Samajwadi Party still continues transmitting confusing signals to the world. While Akhilesh Yadav wants to strengthen his alliance with the Congress, patriarch Mulayam Singh thinks otherwise. For Mulayam, the 127-year-old Congress party is enemy number 1. He has his reasons to think so. Be that as it may, the fact remains that there is no 'mahagathbandhan' in UP.
Any guesses on what Mulayam does these days, now that he has been removed from the prime position within his own party? Kamal Khan of NDTV was quick to provide the answer. He wrote in a news report: "Mulayam Singh Yadav on Tuesday landed up at the city's Wave Mall to watch Baahubali 2."
Perhaps Mulayam was wondering: Why on earth did Katappa kill Bahubali? It just didn't make any sense to him. Maybe, he was thinking from personal experience. For, he still doesn't know why he was unceremoniously removed from presidentship of the party.
Perhaps it's time for all the dramatis personae of the anti-Modi camps in UP and Bihar to take inspiration from a Napoleon Bonaparte quote: "The battlefield is a scene of constant chaos. The winner will be the one who controls that chaos, both his own and the enemies."
Published Date: May 17, 2017 11:38 am | Updated Date: May 17, 2017 11:38 am