ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Games Coalitions Play

By deserting the mahagathbandhan, Nitish Kumar has exposed the cynical game of coalition politics.

Politics makes for strange bedfellows and stranger broods. The mahagathbandhan (grand alliance) of the Janata Dal (United)—jd(u), the Rashtriya Janata Dal (rjd), and the Congress party, seemed like a stroke of genius as well as disaster. It made sense for its socialist moorings, secular credentials and pro-rural development stance. Most of all, it seemed an inevitable and imperative initiative to curb the rising spectre of the “Modi wave” and bolster a dazed and fragmented Opposition in 2015. Simultaneously, however, it appeared to defy all political logic for its divergent, even antithetical, party reputations, political rhetoric and vote bases. Moreover, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s political ascent and popularity in Bihar owed almost entirely to and was posed as an antidote to rjd chief Lalu Prasad Yadav’s ill-governance and corruption. This predictably created confusion in the minds of voters and political commentators.

Yet, Kumar and Yadav seemed to be in perfect sync, projecting this convergence as a momentous feat, one that would deliver Bihar from its backwardness and arrest the rampage of communal forces akin to the 1990s. The thrust of the coalition seemed to be “development with social justice.” Yadav’s political acumen and mass base coupled with Kumar’s vision and proven track record fired people’s imagination and generated new hope for a better future for Bihar. Naysayers kept harking back to Yadav’s gunda raj legacy, but voters seemed convinced of the alliance’s rhetoric that stood out in the wake of the highly divisive and negative campaign of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the run-up to the 2015 polls. This historic mandate by the people of Bihar to the mahagathbandhan, however, was squandered in less than 20 months when, in a dramatic turn of events, the escalating tensions surrounding the corruption allegations against Yadav and his family, climaxed in its disintegration. Nitish Kumar’s return to the National Democratic Alliance (nda) fold raises fears of the increasing centralisation of power in a single political party in India.

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Updated On : 24th Aug, 2017

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