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Laloo’s Departure — Victory of the Nationwide Democratic Opinion

Amonth or so back while making a speech at the Miller Ground in Patna Mr.Laloo Prasad mockingly said, “Well, here is this Miller Ground, and there are so many other grounds in Patna, but where in the earth is this so-called moral ground!”. Alas, he had ultimately to quit his post on this very moral ground.

‘Who after Laloo?’, to this characteristic question often posed by those who saw in his demise a serious setback to the cause of social justice, destiny has replied in the typical Laloo style, ‘Who else but Rabri Devi!’ So after a long drawn political and legal battle and with the demand of his resignation becoming a national chorus, Mr.Laloo Prasad has gone but not before perpetrating a cruel joke on the hapless people of Bihar.

Had it not been just an exercise to continue to rule by proxy, in this era of empowerment of women one would not have objected much to Mrs.Rabri Devi’s accession to power. Be that as it may, Biharis can rejoice over having the first ever women chief minister, particularly because in the entire pack of Laloo’s jokers there was perhaps no better a choice.

What is after all the source of Laloo’s resilience, his ability to keep hold over the majority of JD MPs and MLAs from Bihar and his success in imposing Rabri Devi over them? This question continues to baffle analysts everywhere. Well, despite overall decline of Bihar in terms of all social indicators during seven years of Laloo’s rule, it is a fact that a section of rich farmers and kulaks of backward castes did gain due to the change in power structure. They not only increased their land assets but also engaged in commercial farming. Moreover, although no formal implementation of land reform laws were undertaken, backward caste tenant peasants, due to their enhanced social status, did acquire a better bargaining position vis-a-vis upper caste landlords. This was reflected in increased food production in recent years.

All this apart, a whole new class of upstarts, often cutting across caste lines, prospered at the expense of the state exchequer, either directly through scams or through the creation of host of new districts, sub-divisions and blocks or by grabbing contracts, petrol pump dealerships etc.

Laloo also excelled in Machiavellian schemes, ranging from marginalising all potential rivals within his own party to splitting various political parties to planting his men in other political formations to direct patronage to notorious criminal gangs.

Then again he invoked the imagery of a ‘King’ to draw loyalty from backward peasant subjects; a ‘Krishnavatar’ to flare-up the religious-cum-caste passions of Yadavs; a champion of secularism by using the harshest of invectives against BJP which helped him enjoy Muslim support and the ‘messiah of the dalits’ by indulging in tokenism of sorts in the name of social awareness and by reaching to every spot of dalit massacres and announcing compensation so much so that it had become his favourite passtime.

Combination of all these factors led to his stability and there is no gainsaying the fact that he still enjoys much of his clout. Opposition to him gradually took shape from two extremes. BJP organised the uppercaste backlash against him and in a short span of time it swept away the uppercaste social base of Congress which had by that time become an impotent force. Samata which broke away from JD and organised the Kurmi reaction to Yadav dominance, soon joined hands with BJP and the two together became a formidable force as witnessed in last parliamentary elections.

CPI(ML) on the other hand organised the resentment of rural poor as well as the democratic constituency and has been primarily instrumental in puncturing the progressive social image of Laloo Yadav to a considerable extent. Impotence of the state in the face of the rise of private landlord armies and the consequent spate of dalit massacres had taken off much of the shine from Laloo’s aura and finally Chandrashekhar’s assassination exposed him in true light before the liberal intelligentsia nationwide.

In our movement we had put greatest emphasis on mass mobilisation and in particular in reaching to the social base that was enamoured by Laloo’s charisma. We started it all alone but in a long process other forces of left who had been trailing behind Laloo gradually joined hands with us.

Laloo has gone and though he expects to command the same authority by putting his wife on the fore, eventually things may not turn out to his satisfaction. A chink in his armour is almost certain in coming days and the political scene in Bihar will sooner than later reach its flashpoint.

Anticipating the final phase of ‘Oust Laloo Movement’ CPI(ML) has already initiated the debate on the alternative socio-economic vision for Bihar and not just the removal of an individual. This was particularly important as many in the 15-party alliance cherish a very narrow vision of anti-Laloo movement. CPI for example has been openly saying that once Mr.Laloo Prasad appoints any successor of his choice, bonhomie will all be restored.

In contrast, to carry our message of an alternative vision of socio-economic justice, Party has launched a Vikalp Yatra that has covered the entire state. And so the struggle goes on.

Home > Liberation Main Page > Index August 1997 > ARTICLE