news Thursday, June 18, 2015 - 05:30
The Chief Election Commissioner has called the Bihar polls the “mother of all elections”. With the BJP looking to make in-roads into the state dominated by socialist politics that emerged out of Jayaprakash Narayan’s movement during the Emergency, it’s easy to see why. At the centre of it all is the Emergency and the political formations between various groups and political parties to counter the Congress led by Indira Gandhi. In the campaigning leading up the elections to be held in September-October, the BJP is set to use the Emergency to take on the present political formations. But this strategy is not without ironies of its own. A “betrayal” of the socialist legacy On June 25, the BJP has decided to mount an assault on the space of the socialists: it plans on observing the 40thanniversary of the Emergency. Over 150 victims of the Maintenance of Internal Security (MISA) Act and around 350 people who were jailed during the period are to be felicitated that day. In doing this, the BJP hopes to take a dig at the erstwhile “socialists”, by laying claim to a legacy that has had long-term claimants in Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and the RJD supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav, possibly the last of the “Lohiaites” along with the SP’s Mulayam Yadav. The trio has come together for the Bihar Assembly Elections, with Lalu saying that he was willing to consume poison, a reference to allying with the estranged Nitish, to fight the “communal forces”. They are also reportedly planning on an alliance with the Congress, the other of the quote-unquote secular parties and the BJP has started taking the first jabs at them.  “Look at what has happened to the leading socialist leaders of the country who have long been claiming the legacy of the movement of Jayaprakash Narayan or the JP movement that took anti-Congressism of the country to a crescendo and carved space for non-Congress politics. They started as pupils of JP and now they have become the stooges of the same Congress that added the black chapter to India's history,” says Executive Editor of BJP's mouthpiece Kamal Sandesh, Dr Shiv Shakti Nath Bakshi, according to an India Today report. Jayprakash “JP” Narayan, was the Gandhian socialist who was responsible for the student movement in Bihar which led to the Emergency. Bakshi’s remark may more than irk Lalu, who was one of the students who had taken to the streets under JP’s leadership. The former Bihar CM was part of the short-lived first non-Congress government of the Janata Party in the state in 1977. The RJD chief, who even named of his daughters “Misa”, after the notorious legislation, has reluctantly joined the rejigged “Janata Parivar” to take on the BJP. The irony Even as the BJP is set to use the Emergency as an election strategy to take on the other parties, one of its own leaders, who was also a participant of the anti-Emergency agitation, has hinted that an Emergency-like situation is not far-fetched even today. While the BJP’s proposed event on the 40th anniversary of the Emergency which will be attended by party president Amit Shah, it is ironic that it has looked to JP as the event’s icon, when one of its own leaders LK Advani, was also one of the leaders who was jailed back then. Now, the octogenarian is directing veiled barbs at those who made him a “Margdarshak”. In a recent interview with The Indian Express in memory of the period, Advani was asked if the Emergency could happen again. “I don’t think anything has been done that gives me the assurance that civil liberties will not be suspended or destroyed again. Not at all,” he said, in an apparent pot-shot at the Modi-Shah combine. When asked why he thought so, he says that “I do not see any sign in our polity that assures me, any outstanding aspect of leadership.” Advani’s statements are significant given the rising murmurs of criticism of how centralised the power structure under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has become. The year-old Modi government has come under increasing fire in the past few months from several quarters of its own party leaders, members and other supporters. Another senior leader who was sidelined along with Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi has also been critical of the top leadership. BJP-backers like Baba Ramdev and Arun Shourie have been outspoken in their criticism of the Modi-Shah pairing. Also Read: Modi government is being questioned, that too by those within
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