Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Narendra Modi’s Bihar sojourn was ill conceived

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

Narendra Modi may be India’s most development oriented Chief Minister but there are a few takers for him outside the state of Gujarat. His recent overt exercise of friendship with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has almost brought the JD(U)-BJP marriage to a divorce. Nitish Kumar who wasn’t to happy to see his ally at home turned down a dinner invite causing much embarrassment to the BJP. Now the saffron brigade has decided to keep Narendra Modi and maverick Varun Gandhi off Bihar to keep ties intact with JD(U).

Although BJP wants Narendra Modi to take the lead with many even calling him the future Prime Ministerial candidate he has very few admirers among the political class outside Gujarat. The ghost of Godhra doesn’t seem to leave him even though his performance as an administrator has no matches in contemporary Indian politics. Modi isn’t corrupt, doesn’t encourage bad advisors around him and can bring in investment which would be more than investments of states like West Bengal in a decade. But the communal violence of 2002 riots seems to diminish all achievements of this man.

The latest move of campaigning in Bihar was an ill conceived one. The planners didn’t realise the fallout of their actions and led it to mess. Bihar is no Gujarat and has a substantial Muslim population and bringing in Modi was not a sane decision keeping in mind the coalition government that BJP and JD(U) run. Nitish Kumar on his part has done a lot of developmental work and Bihar’s growth rate has seen an unprecedented high in the last five years. He is in no mood to commit suicide and give Lalu Prasad Yadav and his brigade a non-issue to take his government on.

BJP top brass should realise that Bihar is no state where elections are fought on developmental issues. It is cast and religion which declares winners in Bihar bringing in Modi was a huge risk which the JD(U) didn’t want to take. It has laid a perfect platform to return to power in the next assembly elections unless it commits a political blunder in the state. Modi and Varun Gandhi might be the hardliner leaders admired by the RSS but in states like Bihar with sizable minority population they aren’t the best cards for coalition politics.


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