Nitish Kumar's decision to delete a paragraph suggesting "autocratic Indira treated Jayaprakash Narayan worse than British treated Bapu in Champaran during freedom struggle", from Bihar government's official website, just because Congress found it offensive against its first family, can't be taken as a fallout of compulsions of coalition politics.
In this case political expediency seems to have taken over supposed socialistic ideology of Bihar chief minister.
JP, as Jayaprakash Narayan is popularly called, has been biggest post-Independence political icon in Bihar. Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad Yadav are both products of 1975-77 JP movement and their ascendancy in politics was built around the veteran leader's social and political legacy.
BJP's Sushil Kumar Modi and Lok Janshakti Party chief Ram Vilas Paswan's rise in politics too is attributed to the JP movement.
JP passed away in October 1979 and no one from his family is in active politics. His name, 37 years after his death, does not bring any electoral or political dividend. In contrast, Nehru-Gandhi dynasty continues to hold reigns of the Congress party.
A senior JD(U) leader and party MP requesting anonymity said, "This incident is indicative of our new official line", which is to say "deviation from our past politics. We are now friends with Congress. They are partners with us in the Bihar government, so why should we unnecessarily antagonise them?"
"Gone are the anti-Congress days, gone are the days of talking about atrocities committed during Emergency. We now have to fight Narendra Modi and his politics. He is a much larger threat."
Does that not mean that Nitish and JD(U) have used JP's name and legacy as per convenience? Does it mean that Nitish's ideology is restricted only to political expediency of a given time -- aligning with extreme Left before, then with BJP and now aligning with RJD and Congress to now dumping his guru JP? Another JD(U) leader said, "It's true that the atrocities committed and restrictions imposed during Indira's Emergency could only find parallel in repressive British Rule in India. Our politics (socialist) for over half-a century, more so during and post
Emergency or JP movement was based on anti-Congressism but now times have changed."
The paragraph now deleted from Nitish government's website said, "It was he (Jayaprakash Narayan) who steadfastly and staunchly opposed the autocratic rule of Indira Gandhi and her younger son Sanjay Gandhi.
Fearing people's reaction to his opposition, Indira Gandhi had him arrested on the eve of declaring National Emergency beginning June 26, 1975. He was put in the Tihar Jail, located near Delhi, where notorious criminals are jailed. Thus, in free India, this septuagenarian, who had fought for India's freedom alongside Indira Gandhi's father Jawahar Lal Nehru, received a treatment that was worse than what the British had meted out to Gandhiji in Champaran in 1917, for his speaking out against oppression. The movement started by JP, however, brought the Emergency to an end, led to the massive defeat of Indira Gandhi and her Congress Party at the polls, and to the installation of a non-Congress government - The Janata Party - at Delhi, for the first time. With the blessings of JP, Morarji Desai became the fourth Prime Minister of India. JP remained the Conscience of the Janata Party and of
post-Gandhi-post-Nehru India. He gave a call to all Indians to work ceaselessly towards eliminating "dictatorship in favour of democracy" and bringing about "freedom from slavery"."
Yet another JD(U) leader said, "No one can refute or challenge the references that were there on the website. Nitish might yield to Congress's pressure and delete those references from website but that does not change history. Ek naya itihas likha jayega ki Nitishji Congress ke sharnagat ho gaye hain" (A new history will be written that Nitish went down to his feet before the Congress).
Times have indeed changed for Nitish. In June 2009 Nitish had announced the JP Samman Yojna reward to those who participated in JP's 'Total Revolution movement' against Indira Gandhi's regime, with a lifetime monthly pension ranging from Rs 2,500-5,000 and a range of free services to an estimated 10,000 people. An annual budget of Rs 31 crore had initially been allocated.
Nitish Kumar was then partners with the BJP in the state and also a key constituent of BJP-led NDA at the Centre.