What so grand about Bihar alliance!

People across the country are keenly watching the coming together of old political rivals Lalu Yadav and Nitish Kumar in Bihar. Despite the hugs and the handshakes in public, I really doubt if the rivalry is finally over. They have, more likely than not, simply come together for their very survival in the state’s politics after BJP blizzard left them struggling for some space.

It’s hard to digest that they have altogether buried their ambitions as well as differences. Fact is that while politicians, driven by sheer opportunism, find it easy to sink their differences, the castes that they represent don’t.

Thus, the future of the ‘grand alliance’ will be determined by the behaviour of the extremely and most backward castes whom Nitish had prepared to take on the militancy of the Yadavs. And what about the Kurmis. The only advantage one can foresee as of now is that the crucial minority vote would not split between the two secular forces.

Nonetheless, the by-polls results would decide the alliance’s longevity. Both Lalu and Nitish know that it’s easier to stitch alliances for 10 assembly seats when none of the partners are clamouring for the chief minister’s chair than in the general election.

Then why call it a grand alliance? Just because they sank their two decade old differences for 10 seats. It will be grand only when it will survive the BJP onslaught and last till the assembly elections clearing all obstacles that will come in their way – from seat sharing to the leadership issue.

The success of Bihar alliance or experiment will then change the politics of north India, especially Uttar Pradesh where regional forces are facing the saffron surge. Lalu and his advice for a similar alliance in UP can’t.

Because in Bihar’s neighbourhood, the problem lies not only in changing caste equations but also in the fact that one of the rivals is a woman and a strong woman at that. Mayawati has several reasons to be angry and will not accept anything short of a public apology for the infamous state guest house incident.

Someone close to Lalu said he was hardly serious when he had advised Mulayam and Mayawati to join hands to take on the BJP. The RJD leader had counted two reasons — first there is no love lost between Lalu and Mulayam, second Lalu would never want Mulayam to be stronger than him, which he will be if he joined hands with Maya. Primarily, Lalu suggestions as well as Mulayam’s acceptance was done to please the minority community and convince them of their sincerity to fight communalism (read BJP).

These alliances are short-lived and purposeless. And if any such experiment has to happen in Uttar Pradesh, people will have to wait for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls as the 2017 election will be a do or die battle between the BSP and the SP. This would suit the BJP most. What else it can ask for, especially when it will face the electorate in 2017 without a popular face for the state’s chief ministership!

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