Dipankar Bhattacharya and Owaisi
TOWNPOST EDITORIAL

The Assembly election results in Bihar have thrown up many interesting outcomes. However, the most surprising, and dramatic too, has been the phoenix-like rise of the left parties and Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM.

While AIMIM has won 5 assembly seats, the left parties together have bagged 16 out of 29 seats they contested. CPI-ML, which is much more radical compared to other left parties, has bagged 12 out of 19 seats that it contested.

Bihar’s seemanchal, or border region, is where AIMIM has made deep inroads. This region comprises four districts, i.e. Kishanganj, Katihar, Purnia and Araria and has hefty presence of Muslims.

AIMIM had contested 24 seats in the area and it won 5 seats. Not a bad performance as the party had started its innings in the region, only a few years back.

In the last assembly elections of Bihar, in 2015, Owaisi had failed in winning any seat. His party was blamed for dividing secular votes. However, he had started working quietly on his project. And his clear goals, and strategy of winning the young and influential Muslim voters, have fetched the desired results.

Congress’ decline has translated into the rise of AIMIM in the region, as the entire vote base of Muslims seems to have shifted over to AIMIM.

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It seems that Congress-brand of secularism, bordering on blatant appeasement and minority-ism, almost always ends up in generating an Islamic-brand politics.

This has been happening since the time of pre-independence polity of Jinnah era. Recent political history of India tells us that Congress tries hard to woo the Muslim voters and masses. And it does succeed in taking them along up to a point. To be precise, till the point the demographic balance is not tilted so much where Muslims alone could play a decisive factor. And once that point reaches, the Muslim voters and masses junk Congress readily and opt for some Islamic party or leader, as it happened in Bihar, or had happened in pre-independence India’s Jinnah era.

On the other hand, Tejaswi Yadav’s decision to play ball with the left parties and include them in Mahagathbandhan has paid off richly for the left parties as they bagged 16 seats with an outstanding strike rate. CPI-ML has been the best performer with 12 seats.

Whatever be the merits and demerits of Laloo Yadav’s politics, he was largely successful in keeping the left parties at bay and under check during his tenure.

The simultaneous rise of extreme left and Islamist parties in Bihar must be a sign of worry for mainstream parties like Congress, BJP, JD (U) and LJP all.

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Tejaswi Yadav may not be mature enough to understand the real long-term consequence of the rise of these two forces in Bihar’s politics. However, history tells us that it would neither be good for his political future, nor for the future of any other mainstream party. The rise of these two forces would ultimately erode his own support base.

The political space left vacant by the inefficient leadership of Congress, and infighting within NDA, has been cornered by the left and Islamist forces. After all, both Left and Islamic forces finally aim to replace mainstream parties. And both also treat democracy as a means to grab power for reaching their ultimate goal – which is anything but continuance of a democratic, secular and socialist republic.

After all, a communism-based system of rule remains the ultimate aim of CPI-ML and a shariah-compliant India would remain the ultimate aim of AIMIM, disregarding the claims made right now. Democracy and elections can only be intermediate means for such far-reaching aims.

For such forces, RJDs, BJPs and LJPs are only small roadblocks to be negotiated with, and dealt with appropriately, in the course of the march forward, keeping the larger political ends in mind.

But do leaders of RJDs, BJPs and LJPs understand the far-reaching indications and ramifications?

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