In a sudden but calculated move, Nitish Kumar has crushed the Grand Alliance in Bihar, which had defeated the BJP, and returned to the saffron fold. After the emphatic victory in the 2015 Bihar elections, many political pundits have thought Grand Alliance would become a platform of all anti-BJP parties before the 2019 elections. Cheated by the deft move of a master strategist, that Nitish Kumar always is, both Rahul Gandhi and Lalu Prasad have accused him of committing political treachery.
To be fair to Nitish, he is not the first ‘socialist’ leader, may not be the last also, who has betrayed the socialist ideology which they profess and lend credence to the Hindu communalism. The anti-Congressism which the redoubtable Ram Manohar Lohia practiced throughout his political career in the 60s, Jayaprakash Narayanan’s ambivalent approach towards the Jansangh, BJP’s earlier version, helped the Hindutva forces to gain a certain amount of respectability among the electorates. In the 90s, when the BJP was facing total political isolation after its leaders spearheaded communal campaign and demolished Babri Masjid through violent propaganda, it was the ‘vibrant’, ‘aggressive’ socialist George Fernandes who helped them come out of the segregated political ward.
When the BJP is spreading its tentacles of communal agenda and strangulating Indian Constitution, all those who have a modicum of secular and democratic values are expected to join the resistance movement, Nitish Kumar, like George Fernandes, had given body blow to the opposition parties and people of Bihar who voted Grand Alliance into power after hair-splitting election campaign. Nitish Kumar, who now talks about probity in public life, has not offered any explanation for betraying the electorates voted him against Hindutva forces. Apart from his anti-Congressism, Fernandes also did not offer any logical reasoning for aligning with the saffron party.
When Ram Manohar Lohia propounded anti–Congressism as the sole basis for the liberal socialism in India, Congress party was in completely controlling Indian politics. Though he could not achieve his brand of ‘Congress mukht Bharat’, his principled position against the social inequalities and rightist forces which perpetuated casteism, attracted many idealistic youths. At the same time he, it seems, was unmindful of the consequences aligning with all forces which are against Congress. In 1963, he entered Loksabha with the support of the Jan Sangh. Many non-Congress parties accepted Lohia’s idea and fought together.
Though they could win some states, the ‘Socialist alternative’ proposed by Lohia lost its attraction after some time. Though his anti-Congressism failed miserably, his contribution to the understanding of the Dalit and OBC empowerment should not be lost sight off. But that is another area.
When Indira Gandhi unleashed her authoritarian rule by declaring Emergency, Jayaprakash Narayan’s united all opposition parties and fought against it. Jan Sangh used this association with JP Movement and other opposition parties to make them look as a credible political party. As Praful Bidwai pointed out in an article “A pernicious role was played in this regard by JP, who bestowed respectability upon the RSS through the Bihar agitation. Without him, the Jana Sangh couldn’t have found a place in the Janata, nor acquired the influence in the post-Emergency government that it did”
It was George Fernandes, the fiery labour leader, who said to have planned violent methods to fight Indira Gandhi’s Emergency, helped BJP in a big way after the Babri Masjid demolition. The so called ‘socialist’ who tried to throw out Coca Cola when he was Industry Minister in Morarjee Desai government, became an apologist of neo liberalism after he joined hands with BJP. His comments when Hindutva forces burned to death Australian Christian missionary Graham Staines and him justifying Gujarat pogrom speaks about the political opportunism practiced by many prominent self-proclaimed socialists. It should also be remembered that there were socialists like Madhu Dantavade, Surendra Mohan who fought communalism and Congress with the same vigour. But as history would prove later they were not ‘successful’ politicians like George Fernandes and Nitish Kumar.
It was George Fernandes who defended BJP after the Gujarat carnage. And it may look ironical that Nitish Kumar who now aligned with BJP, severed ties with NDA in 2013 citing Gujarat pogrom and Modi’s alleged role in it.
After Babri Masjid demolition, the ‘socialist’ Fernades helped the saffron party to end its political isolation. Now at a time when more and more sections of the people are targeted by the BJP’s fascist ideology, another ‘gentleman’ ‘socialist’ Nitish Kumar tries to puncture whatever little resistance opposition parties are trying to put up against it. Then George Fernandes, the fiery socialist, now the ‘socialist turned anti corruption crusader’ Nitish Kumar. The ‘liberal socialists’ in India invariably helped the communalists in India, betraying the ideology they claim to profess, and more importantly the idea of India as envisaged in the national movement and in the Indian Constitution.