The ‘mahagathbandhan’ or Grand Alliance of JD(U), RJD and Congress in Bihar is perhaps one of the first and best example of ‘jugaad’ politics in the country. The parties came together ahead of the Assembly Elections in the state last year to keep the BJP out of power. Their strategy worked but the alliance marked only the merger of their temporary ambitions as the parties continue to appear like drifting apart on several important issues. The latest is demonetisation.
Ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the decision to demonetise old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes on November 8, Janata Dal (United) leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has been openly supporting the decision on the condition that it should be followed by a clampdown on ‘benaami’ properties and prohibition in the country. Lalu Prasad Yadav-led Rashtriya Janata Dal took some time to prepare its move against Modi government’s decision, the Congress opposed it from the word go.
While the exact economic impact of demonetisation may be known in the next few months, what PM Modi’s decision has been able to do is divide opposition parties as they are seen scrambling to hold their influence on their respective constituencies. Bihar appears to be the best example in this regard.
CM Nitish Kumar has won the battle of perception by supporting the decision and strengthened his position as the numero uno leader of the state. But Congress and RJD, even as they are against demonetisation, have not been able to chalk out a plan to jointly fight against the move.
Sample this: The RJD had planned to organise dharnas against demonetisation at all district headquarters on Wednesday. However, JD(U) and Congress refused to join RJD’s dharnas. RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav even took a veiled dig against the allies on Tuesday. He told The Indian Express that some people may not attend the dharna called by RJD because of “ego problem”. However, he clarified that “ego problem” should not be seen as “differences” in the Grand Alliance. The JD(U) and Congress told IE that they cannot be a part of RJD protests as they have their own programmes.
Despite the apparent drift on some issues, the alliance partners in Bihar, including CM Nitish Kumar, have repeatedly said they are united to run the state government. Demonetisation politics, however, may end up ending this stand.