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Wednesday, Oct 27, 2021
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A Nayak For Naya Bihar

After a break-up debate, Nitish rehearses a few new roles

A Nayak For Naya Bihar
Illustration by Sorit
A Nayak For Naya Bihar
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

On June 19, the Nitish Kumar-led JD(U) government in Bihar won the trust vote following a split with the BJP, its ally of 17 years, over the ascent of Narendra Modi. This outcome was expected. Of far more significance was the quality of deliberations in the Vidhan Sabha before the vote: notwithstanding political differen­ces, members of the assembly debated ground-level isues, development and ideologies in a textured and nuanced manner. It was in sharp contrast to the ‘national’ interpretation of such outcomes in monochrome or in binaries like secular versus communal, and those who heard it found positive reaffirmation of faith in this representative institution expressing the voice of India’s poorest. This was in sharp contrast to how debates have been conducted in the past: their quality had especially declined when the RJD was in government, especially when Rabri Devi was chief minister, or later, the leader of the opposition.

What was witnessed in the trust-vote debate was a definite pluralisation of political space. Not only was the articulation of differences sharp, the voice of the opposition in the House has also grown stronger. The House expressed three-cornered differences—the BJP and the JD(U) against each other, and the RJD against the ruling alliance now breaking up. The differen­ces were couched in terms of ideology, but also as fundamental posers about the  shortcomings of the development model of Bihar. The erstwhile leader of the opposition, Abdul Bari Siddiqui—whose political career began with those of Laloo Prasad Yadav, Nitish and Sushil Kumar Modi as a student leader during the anti-Emergency movement—asked why the chief minister, so desirous now of garnering Muslim votes, had been unable to visit Forbesganj, where poor Muslims protesting against land acquisition for an industrial unit...

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