Bringing Nitish & Lalu, Mamata & Left closer: The Modi effect

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Modi's unbelieveable effect
The reunion of Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar in Bihar and the soft meeting between Mamata Banerjee and the Left in West Bengal last month [Read: Mamata welcomes Left with fish fries, asks it to take guard against Modi] have explained a simple rule in politics: Join hands with the enemy to defeat the common enemy.

Lalu & Nitish: Ego and ambition had set them apart

Take the case of Lalu and Nitish. These two leaders were once close friends and flourished equally in the days of Mandal politics. But when the Congress system collapsed, these leaders found enough space to nurture their respective political ambitions and consequently, there arose a clash of personalities. Lalu's ascending the chief minister's throne in 1990 unleashed a fierce political competition and the two parted ways in 1994 with Nitish forming the Samata Party with George Fernandes.

In the next 11 years, Nitish continued to be Lalu's biggest critic and succeeded in ousting the Rashtriya Janata Dal from power in 2005 with an alliance with the BJP. But as Lalu saw a steep decline after 15 years in power, Nitish, too, saw his good times running out fast.

Harbouring a secret ambition to become the prime minister of the country, Nitish understood that it would not be possible as long as Narendra Modi is there and hence decided to end the 17-year-old partnership with the BJP last year. The result was disaster. The BJP ran away with 31 out of 40 parliamentary seats in Bihar in the Lok Sabha election held two months ago, leaving both the Bihar politicians stunned and shocked.

An egoist, Nitish even resigned from the chief minister's post and put a backward class representative in the post. This fulfilled two aims: avoiding meeting with Prime Minister Modi and also backing a moderate class to keep his 'socialist' image high among people.

Both Nitish and Lalu deeply worried about their political future

But both Nitish and Lalu are deeply worried over the future of their political career. The latter has already been hit hard by his conviction in the fodder scam while the former looks clueless at the moment on how to deal with the Modi storm. Bihar is set to witness bypolls in 10 assembly seats in another three weeks and the two leaders had few options left for regaining some respectability in the state politics other then joining each other's hands and also including a marginal Congress in their camp. Lalu and Nitish have shared four seats among themselves for the bypolls while the Congress has been given two seats.

Is this the end of the second-generation leaders?

Will the two messiahs get the required oxygen from this alliance? Chances are slim. For the second-generation (after the Congress) leaders of Indian politics have failed to take note of the fact that the BJP has successfully blurred the distinction between the Mandal and Kamandal in contemporary politics.

The phenomenal rise of Narendra Modi, a representative of the backward class, and the revival of the BJP (a party with an upper-class identity) along with him, have given a body blow to the prospects of the 'secular' and 'pro-backward class' political camps in India.

In Uttar Pradesh too, it has been seen how the pro-development agenda of the BJP have united the political geography that the regional satraps have divided throughout for electoral gains. Both the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) have been reduced to ashes in the state mainly because the electorate of the country has felt compelled to move towards Modi for uniform development.

Lalu Prasad has expressed a wish that the SP and BSP should also join hands [Read here] in UP to defeat the communal forces, something which wouldn't surprise political observers if becomes a reality. Such a great leveller Narendra Modi is.

Mamata, Left also soften stand against each other: Reason is Modi again

In West Bengal also we have seen a similar story unfolding. Although the politics in Bengal is not so much decided by the Mandal factor but polarisation on lines of parties is extreme there. Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress has made an impact in Bengal by capitalising on the Left's decline and it continued to live on the anti-Left sentiments even after coming to power. But things began to change after Modi addressed a massive rally in Kolkata in February this year and began to speak more about the state's growing backwardness.

The state BJP was bolstered by Modi's upright stand and the party managed to bag two parliamentary seats apart from giving the ruling TMC a steady fight in its own den, including the chief minister's own area in South Kolkata.

The rise in BJP's vote-share Bengal  in the general elections means the Left is on left on the verge of extinction in the state, something which was bound to rattle Banerjee for her entire political capital comes from a very strong moral stand against the Left. The TMC supremo has little understanding about the BJP's style of politics, particularly after Modi's acceptance as a non-divisive leader.

Modi's rise has exposed the idea of social empowerment sans economic progress

The TMC leadership's biggest worry is that the BJP, as a fresh force in the state, has more to gain than lose in the run-up to the next assembly election in 2016. It is also worried about the fact that the rise of the BJP in West Bengal will give the disillusioned TMC supporters and cornered Left supporters more political option to explore. This is certainly not a good news for the TMC which was happy about hunting the dead Left to project its own image, if not of the state.

Banerjee recently told the Left leadership in Bengal to ensure that its house is in order. One wouldn't be surprised if the TMC, Left and Congress also form an alliance in the state after the 2016 polls. By the standard of Bengal politics, this is quite unbelievable. But again, politics is all about uncertainty and Modi has proved it.

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