'Lalu's conviction has marked the end of a special brand of politics'

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Bangalore, Oct 1: Does Lalu Prasad's conviction in the fodder scam of the mid-1990s just about the delivery of justice and a probable impact it is going to have on India's electoral politics ahead of the next general polls?

Perhaps there is something more to the episode. Political commentator Shashi Shekhar has given a fresh angle to the story when he said that the conviction of Lalu marks the end of a special brand of politics more than the individual's career, as it is more talked about.

Speaking in a radio programme on the conviction of Lalu Prasad on Monday, the former chief minister of Bihar and railway minister, Shekhar said the generation of leaders like Prasad, Mulayam Singh Yadav and others had emerged on the ruins of the Congress system.

These politicians, who had an orientation towards a form of social justice, rose to prominence by banking on the mobilisation of the backward castes and communities in the Hindi heartland after the Congress's dominance declined and perfectly mastered the identity politics.

"The social coalition on which Lalu and Nitish depended has been shaken now"

They benefitted from the Mandal and Hindutva politics and worked perfectly towards a cause of social empowerment. Development and ethics were not their agenda. It is an paradoxical style of politics, which is both progressive and regressive, said Shekhar.

He said even the current chief minister of Bihar, Nitish Kumar, hasn't spoken much differently from the language commonly spoken in the state politics. "Nitish has. In fact, he has gone one step forward to identify sub-segments in the society, including the Muslims. His politics is an extension of the VP Singh's politics," Shekhar said.

The conviction of Lalu Prasad signals an end to this style of politics, which has been superceded today by the politics of yet another new generation of leaders, including Narendra Modi of Gujarat, Shivraj Singh Chouhan of Madhya Pradesh, Vasundhara Raje of Rajasthan, Naveen Patnaik of Odisha, among others.

The political commentator said the society in Bihar has undergone change and the social coalition on which the likes of Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar depended has been shaken. "A new social configuration is likely and the BJP will gain at the expense of both Lalu and Nitish," he said, adding it will be interesting to see how the battlefield of Bihar gets ready ahead of Narendra Modi's Hunkaar Rally in Patna on October 27.

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