New Delhi, Oct 13: Lalu Prasad Yadav and Nitish Kumar have dictated the history of Bihar for almost 25 years. Now they are facing the biggest test of their political lives in the ongoing Bihar assembly elections.
Sankarshan Thakur's book, "The Brothers Bihari," which will be released today speaks about how Lalu and Nitish together make a seamless continuum of the narrative of contemporary Bihar.
Excerpts from the book, "The Brothers Bihari."
For far too many reasons, understanding Laloo is critical to understanding Nitish, and very often the opposite is equally true. One significant change they have together wrought on Bihar is that, like in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh, upper-caste dominance of politics has become a thing of the past.
In the twenty-five years since Laloo came to power in 1990, the transfer of power hegemony from the minority upper castes to backward and Dalit representatives has become complete; that process is in irreversible stability, the pyramidal order of caste dominance turned on its head.
In 2006, Laloo was already gone a year from power in Bihar, swept aside by a dam-burst of unfulfilled aspirations; Nitish had begun to step ahead, squeezing Laloo out to the footnotes of the new Bihar story.
But should we call it that yet--The New Bihar Story? A part of me hesitates. A part of me celebrates. I am attached to the Bihar story because I was born a Bihari and proudly remain one.
I am part of the ineffable construct of what it must mean to be Bihari. I can begin to exult in small things--a length of pucca road, a stable hour of electricity, a school that has students and teachers in it, a health centre that isn't padlocked. But the cheer always comes stained with concern.
How far will the new road penetrate into the dark and flung corners of Bihar? How durable is any of this? I have often found myself collared for being harsh on Bihar and its people, for using the advantage of exile to probe and expose warts I was privileged enough to have left behind.
But it was also a wrench, as all departure from home is. There may well be merit to some of the carping that has come my way. But there is no merit, in my book, to romancing misdemeanour.
Is this the hardest fought Bihar election ever?
Yes it is. There is a lot at stake in these elections. A lot of political influences are based on this very bitterly fought elections. The result of the Bihar elections will have consequences beyond Bihar.
What are your predictions? People say it is 50:50 in Bihar.
I do not believe in this 50:50 or 60:40 concept. I am not a crystal gazer and hence will not predict. It is being fought hard and as I said earlier, this is a very bitterly fought election.
An often asked question is are Lalu and Nitish natural allies?
Let me tell you that Nitish and Lalu are more natural allies than Nitish and the BJP were. There are from the same socialist school.
Assuming Nitish and Lalu win the polls, will this combination last?
Once again I would want to repeat that I am not a crystal gazer. The question of the future is not something that we can speak about now. Did anyone imagine that Nitish and Lalu would come together? This whole thing about whether the combination will last or not is a BJP oriented thinking.
Nitish-Lalu coming together has been termed as an alliance of convenience. What are your thoughts on this?
The BJP has dragged the entire national discourse to the Right and there is so much happening in the country. Hence it is natural that the opposition will come together. The BJP according to me has vitiated the atmosphere in the country and hence such alliances by the opposition are only natural.