Communication

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BIHAR has been intensely debated. It has attracted widespread intellectual attention, analysis, interpretation and articulation. All those interested in the betterment of Bihar, hope this would provide an intellectual and theoretical basis for Biharís rejuvenation. The December 2007 of Seminar brings together interesting interpretations and analysis of political economy, political combinations and machinations, probing of history, decline of culture, institutional breakdown and the neglect of social sector. Interpretations and backed by theoretical frameworks.

On the ground level, the issue points to the inflated ambitions and dubious means of Yadavs which attracted the anger of upper castes and helplessness of allies. The issue has a balanced nuance in that it gives credit to Lalu for giving a sense of self respect to the have nots and it points to the incapacity of Nitish Kumar.

But the whole exercise lacks some objectivity. The balancing nuance suffers credibility because the viewpoint of social justice has not been represented.

Most write-ups are focused on one person. Lalu is important but he can neither claim the whole legacy of social justice movement nor he can carry the struggle for it alone. Surprisingly, he has not been given credit for creating a Bihari identity.

Besides these, a proper historical analysis is lacking. Although some articles do point to historical developments brilliantly, none has pointed to the parasitic nature of the earlier elite which is popularly called haramkhori. The pride in ticketless travelling by Biharis is a reminder of that historical legacy.

Culture decline, institutional failures and social sector neglect is the result of political economy defaults. Despite the importance of culture, it cannot carry forward the burden of progress single handed.

No article has referred to the 2004 Lok Sabha elections in which social justice forces carried all. Almost all articles have referred to the two elections of 2005 which social justice forces lost because of disunity. Out of the three most important players in Bihar politics today, i.e., Lalu, Ram Vilas and Nitish, although Nitish is the most scholarly, he has the narrowest social base of all. Leftovers and frustrated players cannot be a substitute for the forces of the social justice movement.

The scheme of fifty per cent reservation for women is a ploy to grab power from the back door. Like men, women come from different classes and castes. They donít constitute a homogenous group. Upper caste women are more intelligent and have the support of existing institutions.

The kind of theorizing done here reminds one of the saying, too much theorizing is too much paralyzing. Moreover, most articles have interpreted with theories, but have concluded with media constructions.

I may add just some points to set the record straight. Biharís paradox is rooted in political economy but more is explained by the nature of political elite and the kind of politics they have pursued. In North India, Bihar has the sharpest forward caste and backward caste rivalry. It is still unresolved. So long as it remains unresolved, the paradox would also remain a paradox. The dialectics and the dynamics of Bihar politics would determine whether it is resolved the Tamil Nadu or the Andhra Pradesh way.

In most southern states the social justice movement was backed by social and cultural empowerment. In Bihar, the backward castes were denied the opportunity and they banked on muscle power without knowing its limits. This lack of social and cultural empowerment has denied the social justice movement a support base in the police, bureaucracy and judiciary.

In the South the dalit movement was weak because of leaders, money and numbers. As R.K. Hebsur, the Mandal Commission sociologist pointed out, in North India and particularly in Bihar, the powerful dalit movement has given a third dimension to the forward-backward struggle.

Historically, the role of Ashraf Muslims and Bhadralok Bengalis was important in giving Bihar a good administration. Ashraf Muslims left in the wake of Partition and Bhadralok Bengalis left in the face of the forward-backward attrition.

In Marxian parlance, North India and more specifically the Gangetic plain, is the core area. South India, Maharashtra and West Bengal are peripheral areas. Any real struggle for the control of India would be settled here. Bihar is the focal site for the shift of power.

The talk of backward Muslim and extremely backward castes support for the NDA is a hoax and at best a media construction. Can an unorganized mass shift its favour just in a matter of one year? In the 2004 Lok Sabha elections they were with the UPA, and in the 2005 state elections they were with NDA?

May I in all humbleness suggest a near future scenario for Bihar. In the next elections Lalu and Ram Vilas will unite without much effort under the benign patronage of Sonia Gandhi. In that case, they will win. Lalu would give charge of Bihar to Ramvilas Paswan who has many supporters among the upper castes and a capacity to carry all with him. No doubt he is a prime ministerial candidate, but he has a more formidable dalit rival waiting in the wings. Lalu will sharpen his politics in Delhi. He is also a prime ministerial candidate and has no formidable backward caste rival there.

The two will dance a tango, set small yet tangible targets, but not too visible ones. The rejuvenation of Bihar is more probable under social justice forces because of their roots in work and struggle rather than the intellectually superior forward castes. A combination of backward-forward is a must for a significant advance.

Mujtaba Hussain

Patna

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