Bodhgaya Still In Bihar.
The Biharis became the source of cheapest labour in India. This sort of labelling for the State of Bihar and its people continues despite the contrary facts. The region of Bihar was the area where a great civilization developed in the ancient past, it was here that two anti-Brahmanical religions, Buddhism and Jainism took root and flourished. Bihar has been a great repository of education, culture and literature. If it turned into a sick state it was not the fault of Bihar but rulers sitting in Delhi who looted wealth of Bihar in the name of 'national interest'.
Bihar is one of the richest States of India so far as natural resources like water and minerals are concerned. It was fleecing of Bihar resources for 'national interest' that the richest Bihar turned into a sick Bihar and its people were forced to become the source of cheapest labour force throughout India. It was due to this cheap Bihari labour that Kolkata in the east and Bombay in the west became hubs of industries and wealth. The Green revolution of Punjab could take place due to these 'poorabias' only.
Despite this tragedy, the Biharis (and Bihar) remained a politically conscious society. MK Gandhi initiated his major movements in Bihar, it was in Bihar that peasant movement took birth; it was this land that produced greatest Hindi, Maithili and Bhojpuri writers, reformers and musicians. This was the State where Muslims, with full might, challenged the two-nation theory of Muslim League. It may be news to many that Bihar has the largest circulation of Hindi literature, periodicals and newspapers.
When India witnessed the ascendancy of Hindutva politics spearheaded by RSS, these 'poorabias' of Bihar - almost 83% of them Hindus - were the ones who did not fall prey to this fascist politics. In fact, it was Bihar which openly challenged the Hindutva juggernaut always. LK Advani on the instructions of RSS started his 'Rath Yatra' (which in reality was an air-conditioned Toyota luxury vehicle with 5-star facilities) in 1990 to mobilize Hindu opinion for building a Ram temple at the place of Babri mosque.
This divisive yatra left a trail of blood by killing Muslims and burning their properties, wherever it went. It was unstoppable. But a 'poorabia' CM of Bihar, Lalu Yadav refused to let it continue with its nefarious agenda. Lalu Yadav's government stopped it in Samastipur on October 23, 1990 and LK Advani was sent to jail. However, courts came to Advani's rescue and he was allowed to continue with his divisive yatra.
The Hindutva march for turning India into a theocratic state has once again been thwarted by Biharis when BJP/RSS bandwagon was thoroughly defeated in the recent Assembly elections. The Hindutva brigade lost Bihar elections despite the fact that it ran a high octane and aggressive communal anti-minorities campaign. The 'swayamsevak' PM Modi and his loyal follower, again a 'swayamsevak' Amit Shah, President of BJP led this campaign from the front.
It was for the first time in the history of Independent India that a PM was resorting to this kind of communal rhetoric. Modi said that Lalu and Nitish were supporting the 'beef eaters'. BJP came out with an advertisement in all Bihar papers which presented Lalu Yadav as beef eater or one who supported beef eating. It quoted Lalu as having said: "Don't Hindus eat beef too? It is the poor who are forced to eat beef. People eat (beef) outside the country too. What difference does it make?"
The ad then asked Nitish, "Stop vote bank politics and explain whether you endorse these statements?" Factually there was nothing wrong with this statement of Lalu Yadav. Eleven Indian States allow beef eating and beef is considered as secular cuisine there. But PM attempted to paint Lalu Yadav as one who was out to allow beef eating in Bihar and Nitish as his collaborator.
In order to further communalize the elections Modi declared in many election meetings that Lalu and Nitish both were trying to dilute reservation provided to SC/STs by giving a part to minorities. There was no confusion about who were these minorities. This insinuation was further carried through advertisements in all Bihar papers RJD Supremo Lalu Prasad and JD (U) leader Nitish Kumar were "snatching the plate of Dalits" by planning to transfer the quota meant for Dalits and EBCs to minorities.
The brazen attempt was to polarize the electorate into Hindu vs. Muslims. Another advertisement packed with communal hatred was titled as 'vote ki kheti' or vote-bank politics. It claimed that RJD, JDU and Congress leaders were "giving sanctuary" to terrorists to appease a particular community for votes.
These advertisements were so poisonous and polarizing that National Election Commission had to ban these ads and police cases were filed against the printers and publishers.
It was happening first time in the history of India's elections that a PM of India was openly carrying Hindutva agenda to mass meetings and the National Election Commission had to order that political parties should not publish ads in newspapers without its approval in Bihar. This was first time in the history of the Election Commission that it was pre-censoring political ads and resorted to the banning of the ads of the nation's ruling party.
Amit Shah did not lag behind in communalizing the elections as true follower of his master. Addressing an election rally in Raxaul on the borders of Nepal he said: "If by any mistake BJP loses, victory and defeat may be in Bihar but fire crackers will go off in Pakistan. Do you want crackers being burst in Pakistan?" This was height of polarizing propaganda and all those who were opposing BJP/RSS were declared to be Pro-Pakistan. There could not be worst denigration of Bihari voters.
Despite all this fascist propaganda against minorities and polarizing rhetoric of the Hindutva stalwarts the voters of Bihar did not let the Hindutva politics succeed and get legitimized. The RSS had taken full control of the elections and made it a prestige issue. The hard core RSS swayamsevaks were made in-charges of the Bihar elections. It is estimated that RSS had diverted its cadres from rest of India to Bihar so that on the eve of Dussehra and Muharram communal riots could be engineered. The 'poorabias' saw through the game and did not let the Hindutva gang succeed.
The results of the Bihar elections are testimony to the fact that two-nation theory of Hindutva is against the ethos of common Indians most of whom are Hindus. The democratic-secular voters of Bihar have fulfilled the dream of one of the greatest Indian thinkers, BR Ambedkar who said that Hindu Raj would be the greatest calamity for India and it should be stopped at all cost.
(The writer can be contacted at: email@example.com)
Published by HT Syndication with permission from Indian Currents.
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