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Lessons for Modi, Sonia and Rahul from Bihar

Last updated on: November 25, 2010 19:08 IST

Nitish's stunning victory is a political earthquake


Nitish Kumar's stunning victory in Bihar is a political earthquake that will reverberate in Indian politics till the 2014 Lok Sabha election, predicts Sheela Bhatt.

The game has changed and how!

The political components of the United Progressive Alliance and the National Democratic Alliance, and all other parties have a new political spectrum before them.

As everyone has written and debated rightly -- development and governance has finally taken centrestage in underdeveloped India.

The Bihar results will have rippling effects in other areas where negative agendas of caste and communal forces do not allow people-driven agenda of development.

Although it has taken 60 years for Indian voters to reach this stage, it is undoubtedly a great time for Indian democracy.

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Image: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar after the election result, Patna, November 24, 2010
Photographs: Krishna Murari Kishan/Reuters

Positive politics helped Nitish

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Sadak, bijli, pani (roads, electricity, water), health and education are what people wanted in Bihar, and when they received indications that Nitish Kumar is sincere in his attempts to deliver, they gave him one more chance.

It was the positive politics of Biharis that helped Nitish Kumar.

It was solely Nitish Kumar's talent that ensured that law and order improved dramatically in the seemingly hopeless state so that an environment for development could be created.

He was an honest facilitator for development-craving voters. For Biharis, Nitish means inclusive growth and faster development supported by sincere attempts at social harmony.

This political template, provided by Nitish Kumar, should be picked up by other political leaders in other nooks and corners of India.

ALSO READ: The Return of India's Lost State

Image: Janata Dal-United supporters celebrate their party's victory in Patna
Photographs: Krishna Murari Kishan/Reuters
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Why Muslims in Bihar voted for the BJP

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Nitish's unprecedented success is equally matched by the stunning strike rate of its alliance partner, the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Out of 102 BJP candidates who fought the assembly election, 90 won.

The amazing scale of victory brings in the message that Hindutva is not a prerequisite for the BJP's survival post 2010.

This is a fantastic opportunity for the BJP which is unable to shed its anti-minority tag. Nitin Gadkari, the BJP president, was prudent when he told reporters on Wednesday 'Hindutva ka matlab hai vikas aur susashan (The real meaning of Hindutva is development and good governance).

It will take time to decipher how the Muslims in Bihar voted for BJP candidates.

It is obvious that Nitish Kumar successfully convinced the Muslims that his association with the National Democratic Alliance is on his own terms and the BJP in Bihar is a proper Bihari party.

The social engineering of a variety of Dalits and Other Backward Classes done by Nitish Kumar within his agenda of governance overtook all other emotional factors or identity politics.

ALSO READ: How Rs 2,000 brought Bihar's most heartening change

Image: A Muslim woman holds her voter's identity card outside a polling booth in Jahanabad, Bihar
Photographs: Krishna Murari Kishan/Reuters
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Has Nitish overtaken Modi as NDA's champ CM?

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The victory in Bihar brings us to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

Modi is doing everything possible to claim the pan-India-leadership of development-oriented politics.

On Wednesday, Nitsh Kumar seriously challenged Modi by winning a more handsome electoral victory than Modi has ever won in Gujarat.

Modi no longer enjoys the TINA (There Is No Alternative) factor in the development model path.

For that matter, even the Congress's Sonia Gandhi-Rahul Gandhi's politics of 'Aam Aadmi' is no longer their monopoly.

Sharad Yadav, the senior Janata Dal-United leader, has said the victory in Bihar is a victory for Socialism and the ideas of the late Socialist icon Ram Manohar Lohia.

Without resorting to the market forces that want Special Economic Zones, land-grabbing industries like automobiles, IT etc, Bihar may move ahead to develop agro-industries.

In the mindscape of Indian voters -- particularly, the highly influential urban television-viewing class -- a new political superstar has emerged.

Currently, Modi is touring the country to invite business leaders to January's Vibrant Gujarat 2011 summit.

Earlier events like these have been a thumping successes, but Modi surely knows that within the NDA, Nitish Kumar has created a niche that will be difficult to challenge.

Without Modi-like charisma, mass communication skills or money power, Nitish Kumar has achieved super electoral success.

ALSO READ: 'Nitish govt has given Bihar its lost identity'

Image: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has not won such an emphatic victory as Nitish Kumar has
Photographs: Amit Dave/Reuters
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Rahul's symbolism didn't work in Bihar

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A senior journalist, who covers the Congress party in New Delhi, says, "The Bihar election has strengthened Nitish within the NDA. Now, he can become the rallying point for other regional leaders like Chandrababu Naidu and Naveen Patnaik. What the BJP cannot do, Nitish Kumar can -- strengthen anti-Congress forces."

The Bihar election will show the way to many stalwarts of regional politics. The Congress will see how Nitish got Muslim votes for the BJP.

The BJP would hate to admit this, but Sushil Kumar Modi, its low-profile and non-confrontational leader in Bihar, will certainly agree that Nitish Kumar's refusal to allow Narendra Modi to campaign in the state paid off well.

Sometimes, in Indian politics hypocrisy brings in positive results.

The Bihar election is a game changer, also because the Congress party's smooth run is over, too soon.

On Wednesday, the Congress lost not only seats in Bihar, but much more. Its efforts to build up the party in the Hindi heartland and promote Rahul Gandhi has received a major setback.

After the 2009 Lok Sabha election it seemed that the Congress would concentrate on grassroots politics and strengthen its nuts and bolts in the districts and talukas of the country.

But the resounding message from the poor voters of Bihar is that the politics of symbolism that Rahul Gandhi represents will not work.

In fact, Bihar's victory has a bigger message for the Congress than any other Indian political party.

The weaknesses of the centralised power structure around Sonia and Rahul Gandhi have been exposed like never before in the four assembly seats their party has won in Bihar.

Who really cares for the defeat of Lalu Prasad Yadav and Ram Vilas Paswan?

Nitish Kumar has brutally hit hard Sonia and Rahul Gandhi's pro-Aam Aadmi political maneuverings of the last six years.

Without eating in the decrepit homes of Mahadalits, extremely backward castes and women voters, Nitish has got their votes in millions.

Without Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at his side, Nitish Kumar is giving Bihar the economic growth rate that Narendra Modi is providing in Gujarat. Truly, no mean achievement.

Nitish Kumar has risen to be a prime ministerial candidate on merit.

Image: The Bihar verdict is a major setback for Congress leader Rahul Gandhi
Photographs: Fayaz Kabli/Reuters
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