Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Will the Bihar effect spread to other assembly elections in India?

It was long understood that the Bihar Assembly elections in 2015 will have a far-reaching impact. But it now seems that the most exaggerated estimates of its impact fell seriously short of the actual echoes. Apart from the reverberations all over the global press, the ramifications within the country are perhaps more deserving of attention as they point towards somewhat long term trends in Indian politics. At this point, the Bihar verdict seems to be inspiring the young Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Akhilesh Yadav, who is enthused enough to discuss a Bihar formula for the electoral battle in his state – the plan may be to form a SP-BSP alliance, as unlikely as the RJD-JD[U] or Nitish-Lalu alliance in Bihar that gave the NDA a decisive defeat.

This interview with Lalu Yadav the Bihar leader, commonly identified with faulty governance or ‘Jungle Raj’ is very telling in that it shows a new and reformed face of Lalu. That Lalu is an evolving leader with an open mind becomes amply clear when he seems to mouth the key slogans that have impressed the Bihari voter as well as the commentators all over India – ‘inclusive development’, and ‘good governance’. In what may seem a division of labour between the two Bihari stalwarts, Nitish is expected to take care of Bihar, while Lalu will devote more attention to the national politics, beginning with a trip to Varanasi, Narendra Modi’s parliamentary constituency, selected by Lalu to blow the bugle for what may turn out to be the beginnings of a third front.

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