The Jungle called Bihar

November 9, 2015

by Gunjan Arya

Bihar is not easy. Even the fire god Agni couldn’t help the pastoral Aryans to cross Gandak and enter the “jungle” of Bihar. It was this formidable region of the Indian peninsula which forced the Aryans to change their gods and rely on advancements in science and technology – a transition into Iron Age – which later made Bihar the center of Empire. It is not an aberration in history that Bihar is still not easy. On October 23, 1990, it was Lalu Prasad Yadav who stopped L.K. Advani’s rath yatra, which had traveled all of India but got halted in Bihar upon Advani’s arrest. Lalu promised before the general elections of 2014 that he will stop Modi like Advani’s rath yatra in the 1990 – “Pehle guru ko roka tha, ab chele ka number hai“. The promise did not had to wait too long to get fulfilled.

It is true that having high hopes with electoral politics would be too naive, especially when it is a well known fact the both Lalu and Nitish have provided political patronage to the killers of Dalits in Bihar. Even in this election campaign, Lalu boastfully claimed that it was Yadavas (Lorik Sena) who cleared Bihar of the Naxals. One of the first decisions of Nitish Kumar when he became the chief minister in 2005 was to dismantle the Amir Das Commission which was setup by Rabri Devi to investigate on role of Ranvir Sena in the Laxmanpur Bathe and Bathani Tola massacres in which 58 and 26 Dalits were butchered. This ultimately resulted in acquittals of all the accused of these massacres in the Patna High Court rulings of 2012 and 2013. Then, there is no denying the fact that mafia and kidnapping industry did blossomed in Lalu-Rabri raj.

So, does it mean that the Bihar results can be ignored as yet another game of numbers in the bourgeois democracy? Definitely not. That would be too dogmatic. This election result certainly lays down a defining moment in the history of Indian politics.

Firstly, it has indeed shattered Modi’s rath. The hatemongers of Gujarat – Modi and Amit Shah – who addressed election campaign meetings in almost every major constituency in Bihar. As Lalu Yadav rightly pointed out Modi has been acting as a Sangh Prachrak. So, this is a clear defeat of Modi as the torchbearer of the Hindutva ideology of the RSS which lies at the core of BJP politics.

Secondly, Bihar has once again taken the lead in organizing against the authoritarian intolerance. This gives a much needed moral boost and a sense of victory to the literati, artists, students, and other progressive intellectuals who have been protesting for a while now.

Thirdly, it has given a setback to the idea that elections in India can be “managed”. Though electoral politics does rely on arithmetic, but the management concepts of the western democracies are still a far cry in Bihar.

Fourthly, the results of this election re-establishes the caste question. With over 85% of the upper caste vote going to BJP, this is a clear evidence to the fact that BJP is the most potent propagator of Brahminical ideology and simultaneously almost all of the “educated”, “development oriented”, elite, upper caste of Bihar who vote, are pathologically casteist.

Fifthly, the reaction of the Indian ruling elite in social media after the election results, exposes their deep animosity and apathy towards the working class in general and Bihari migrants in particular. From “Biharis deserve to stay rickshaw walas” to “we will continue to get cheap labor because Bihar will continue to be neglected“, social media is full of such messages. Even the elitist-corporate media tried their best to downplay the majoritarian opinion by declaring BJP as the winner in most of the exit polls.

Lastly, more than the victory of the Grand Alliance, it is the defeat of Brahminical ruling elite which has given a reason for all the progressives to celebrate. This election reaffirms that whoever rules the “jungle”, the “jungle” will continue to force humanity to change its imagination with the changing times.

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