October 17, 2010

Bihar elections: jaat, in laws, outlaws

For political observers, it looks very normal that Bihar elections are once again going to be fought on caste and communal lines. Within that, it is the blood relation with entrenched politicians and muscle power are what matter. There is hardly any chance of a modern agenda such as development, honesty/corruption, societal issues and reforms taking centre-stage, though hollow slogans around 'aam-aadmi' [common man] will be coined and raised.

As of now, a number of re-alignments are taking place but these are of minor consequence. The major political formations seem to be more or less settled: the ruling JD(U)-BJP alliance with Nitish Kumar and Sushil Modi at the helm; RJD of Lalu Prasad Yadav, joining hands with LJP of Ram Vilas Paswan; Congress with no big leader but Rahul Gandhi’s charisma to ride on.

As expected, the selection of candidates by different parties is going mostly on the basis of caste equations in the constituency. Second most important criterion is winnability among the candidates shortlisted on the basis of caste. Relationship with top party functionaries is another major criterion: the closer the relation, the better. About one-fifth of the nominations in the first phase of elections are from relatives of politicians. This time, the relationship criterion has been further refined: parties are accommodating relatives of even politicians of the opposing parties. Personal integrity is a liability, even among parties that swear by morals. In fact, one’s image as a formidable goon scores much over honesty: voters seem to be voting more out of fear than regard for moral values or their own welfare. A winning combination is the wife of a criminal: you have a woman, husband's muscle, relationship - all in one.

A rough analysis of the candidates in the fray for the first phase by NGO shows that about one third candidates have a criminal record, going by their own affidavits filed before the Election Commission, and one fourth have serious cases against them. This is likely to be the tip of the iceberg as far as information about criminality of candidates goes, because (i) no one is likely to expose his criminality if he can hide it, (ii) people do not file FIRs or file court cases against criminals out of fear, (iii) the numbers reported are only the cases filed; with roots in police, mafia, administration and politics, many criminals do their activities indirectly, without a smear on their clothes.

1 comment:

  1. Nitish is playing Kurmi card, mahadalit card and also vikas card. If he wins, his social engineering will be at par with Modi and Mayavati's.