Lalu pays price for attempting to forge Opposition unity
Zafar Agha Editor-in-chief, Qaumi Awaz
One wonders what’s the status of the CBI probe into the Vyapam scam in Madhya Pradesh
You may hang him by the neck or let him be but Lalu Prasad Yadav remains a rebel to the core. When pushed to the wall, he excels as a rebel. Only Lalu Yadav could have said what he did amidst the CBI raids at his and his family members’ residences.
Look what he said: “Suno Modi, Shah, phansi key phandey per latak jaenygay, lekin tumhara ahankar choor choor kar denge (Listen Modi and Shah, I’m ready to be hanged, but I will shatter your arrogance).” It’s vintage Laloo at his best.
Love him or loathe him, you have to take him as he is. If not ready for it, confrontation is the only course left. That is the problem between Narendra Modi and Lalu Prasad Yadav. The two come from different stables of politics. Modi is a vintage system’s man while Lalu is out and out anti-establishment. So, they fight and will continue to fight each other.
Franky, Lalu Yadav, during almost three decades of power politics, has played the game of both system as well as anti-system. He was elected Bihar Chief Minister for the first time in 1989, riding the anti-Bofors wave, then led by VP Singh.
I have personally seen him then lobbying hard for himself to be appointed the Bihar Chief Minister with the then Delhi bosses of VP Sigh’s Janata Dal. It was very much unlike a rebel; a man set to get power by all means. But once in power to carve out his own niche in Bihar politics, he turned into a perfect rebel.
Mandal politics turned him into a social and political rebel. He was now the messiah of the OBC people, consolidating the Yadav vote bank with a sprinkling of other OBCs too. He is an instinctive politician who does not spare an opportunity that comes his way. Arresting Lal Krishna Advani during the peak of his Rath Yatra, was another master stroke of Lalu’s political career.
He was now the master of his own political self who could deal with the system; no longer dependent on VP Singh or Sharad Yadav’s courtesies.
But Lalu annoyed the centuries-old caste system in the process of making a permanent M-Y combined vote bank for himself. He had committed two sins. First, he had emboldened backward castes to stand up against upper caste social and political domination. It was an unpardonable crime from the social establishment point of view.
Secondly, Lalu turned Muslim ‘’ang rakhshak’’ (saviour) during the maddening Ram Temple Movement of the early 1990s when Muslim hatred was sweeping across the country. It, too, was an unpardonable crime in the eyes of the establishment which was then led by Narasimha Rao who was clandestinely in cahoot with the BJP-RSS combine.
So, Lalu, the rebel, had to pay a price. He did it with fodder scam.
The much-publicised fodder scam was, indeed, a scam. But I am convinced that a similar scam, for instance, under the Shiv Raj Singh Chauhan-led BJP government in MP, now would not generate outrage as fodder scam did in 1990s. After all, Chauhan is enjoying power despite Vyapam scam.
Lalu paid the price not because the system was keen to sweep away corruption. Indian public life is, indisputably, much more corrupt than what it has been during fodder scam days. Anti-corruption movements, as I have witnessed and observed from close political quarters, are largely system’s method to punish an errant politician rather than fixing corruption per se.
There might be an uproar against someone even now if he dared to say that the anti-Bofors campaign was essentially the Congress old guard’s rebellion against then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi who had turned too dependent on his own young team. The political purpose behind the anti-Bofors campaign was not so much to clean up corrupt defence deals than to fix Rajiv Gandhi in the guise of corruption. Rajiv Gandhi is no more but corruption continues when it comes to defence deals.
So, anti-corruption charges and movements are the establishment’s tool to punish a politician daring the system. Rajiv Gandhi paid it. So, did Lalu at the time of fodder scam.
But Lalu is again under siege from the system. He continues to be an M-Y combine leader in Bihar. It disturbs Modi and the Sangh’s gameplan to come to power there. He continues to be a pragmatic politician who knows how to weave a political alliance for an electoral victory. For instance, his RJD-JD(U)-Congress alliance completely outwitted the Modi-led BJP in the last Bihar Assembly elections.
Enough ‘’corrupt land deals’’ signals were dropped against Lalu’s kins by none other than Bihar BJP chief Sushil Modi himself. The signs were for Lalu to mend his ways. Lalu did not take the cue. Instead, he rallied around Sonia Gandhi’s call for a united Opposition candidate for the ensuing presidential poll. Lalu continued to blow the trumpet in support of Opposition unity.
Nothing disturbs Modi managers more than the Opposition rallying round on a common platform. After all, the combined secular vote was more than the BJP and its allies’ total vote share in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Opposition unity could be a serious threat for the ruling establishment in 2019.
So, wreck Opposition unity by hook and crook. If some Opposition player still goes ahead on the Opposition unity path, trap him and engage him in self- defence rather than concentrating his energies on his larger political goal.
Lalu is basically a victim of daring to work for Opposition unity.
A mere three-acre land plot somewhere in Patna in lieu of granting a favour for running a hotel in Ranchi is no big deal. It keeps happening and no one cares. One investigative reporter can dig up some such scam by hundreds. But the CBI is not keen to go after any other politician in a similar case. It has been told by its masters to bring Lalu’s head. That is the crux of the Lalu land deal story.
But the problem remains for the system. Lalu Yadav turns rebel when cornered. He would surely do it once again as he did during the fodder scam days.
So, wait for an interesting political duel between Narendra Modi and Lalu Prasad Yadav as both remain adamant to stick to their respective positions; one with the system and the other turning anti-establishment.
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