As the Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi did not want to part with the pride of Gujarat, GIR LION, with any other state. He opposed tooth and nail the efforts by environmentalists to conserve the fast disappearing species by breeding them in other naturally conducive habitats across the country. Modi wanted exclusivity of the species, and succeeded thus far.
Ironically, when it came to himself, post victory in Gujarat in 2012, the three-time crowned GIR LIONish CM, Narendra Modi laid his grand plans to breed everywhere and to conquer the Prime-Ministerial seat in Delhi. In no time, the RSS which always wanted to project itself as the savior of Mother India and Hinduism, sensing the week opposition and a strong candidate in Modi, threw its entire weight behind Modi with a scheme of conquering every state too. The RSS and BJP started flexing muscles. As part of that scheme, in JUNE 2013, BJP quits the Nitish Government in Bihar to make Nitish vulnerable.
Shrugging the discussions of other possible contenders within BJP, Modi bulldozed everyone in the party to head in the direction of Delhi. With all the corruption tags hanging around him, the credibility-lost and power-bereft then PM, Manmohan Singh, became easy bait for the hungry GIR lion! And to his credit, Modi managed to pick issues of development and elimination of corruption that resonated with vast majority, harped endlessly, to sweep the election and realize his dream of occupying the PMs Chair.
The grand scheme of conquering every state election since then has been successful to a considerable extent, albeit not as spectacular as RSS and BJP thought they would. The BJP realized it was not without the ills that affect any other political party, as they attempted to ‘install’ the CMs even in the safe states of Maharashtra and Haryana!
In, May 2014, Nitish quits as CM of Bihar owning up the responsibility of the debacle in Bihar in the general elections. It was a clever ploy to bounce back, later, with elections round the corner. In Jitan Ram Manjhi, a fellow minister in his ministry (a prominent leader of economically backward class), Nitish thought he found a milder candidate and was instituted as the CM. In all probability, Nitish saw him as his ‘yes man’ and thought he would give the CM’s post back to him at an appropriate time before the general elections in Bihar. Unfortunately it was not to be…
Since the national elections of May 2014, the chest thumping Gir Lion found its match in Delhi. Modi made re-election in Delhi after the Feb 2014 mixed verdict, a very prestigious issue for himself. Every decision – the timing of elections, projection of candidates, and the possible CM candidate – was his. He could not fathom the Feb 2014 debacle. He wanted to leave his stamp. It was Modi-Modi everywhere. Unfortunately, it was a rout for him – the decimation coming within less than a year of the grand- national victory. Modi has not digested that loss still. It is obvious from the way his government has been reacting with the legitimately elected government of AAP in Delhi. That is another story to dwell upon separately.
So the Bihar elections became more or less, an election of prestige for Modi. He wanted to reassert his status. Modi personally prepared the schema to conquer Bihar with his commander-in-chief, Amit Shah.
The power-tasted, Jitan Ram Manjhi, who did not want to let the ‘hard-earned’ and elusive CM seat go, fell into the Amit Shah’s well laid out BJP trap. Manjhi was inveigled, coaxed, manipulated to take on Nitish, to create a scenario to show that EBCs are looked down upon by the dominant political forces of Bihar, especially Nitish, seen as messiah by Bihar population for his development work. This scenario had to be created, as BJP, which is identified as a ‘Brahmin and upper-caste party’, had to be made an ‘inclusive one’ – the Shah’s version of ‘social-re-engineering’. Finally, JAM party of Majhi, always opportunistic Paswan, and the fourth dimension of Khuswah became the torch bearers of the ‘marginalized’ in the caste bouquet that Shah put together for the Bihar elections.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi went all out in the Bihar elections. All publicity and hoardings that sprang up everywhere in the first couple of phases in Bihar had only Modi and Shah gracing. Sushil Modi, the face of BJP in the last 10 years was not to be seen anywhere. It was war, to be won.
The honoroble Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi addressed 31 rallies, unprecedented, in the course of the Bihar Assembly elections beginning July 25. His commander-in-chief, Amit Shah, lived in Patna for almost 45 days, accounted for significant numbers. The propound-er of grand slogans of “Development”, “Make in India”, “Digital India” started with focus on development, even announced the long pending special package at the opening ‘Bhashan’. But in no time, the underlying schema came to the fore. His speeches moved to caste-centricity and then took rabid religious overtones. Around end-October, in a reference to his backward origins, Modi referred to his “ati-pichhda (extremely backward) mother’s womb”, moving from OBC card he had played in all elections till then.
Let us track the fall of BRAND GIR LION in Bihar…
- Between July 25 and mid-October, Modi held 12 rallies across Bihar spoke more about development and not have Jungle Raj again. But soon realized that the people of Bihar have certainly seen development under Nitish in the last 10 years. My visits to Patna and hinterland in the last five years more or less told me that people are happy the way things have moved under Nitish, though they wish to have more. The state was far away from Lallu’s so-called ‘jungle raj’ that Modi tried to portray.
- Modi speeches became acerbic and personal, unbecoming of the PM. Modi said, “There is no yardstick where Bihar can stand tall before India. If it is, it is in crime, kidnapping and guntrotting.” Having earlier referred to the “Bihari DNA”, he kept criticizing the state on various indices, saying it had the worst poverty in India and its 60 years of government had done nothing. . At times the voters even felt that he is abusing the “Bihari pride.” I wonder how Modi did not realize the presence of Bihari babus in the vast CIVIL SERVICES that his government is chugging on!
- On September 21, Bhagwat’s remark on having relook at the caste quota criteria. All hell broke loose in the Lion’s Den. Traditionally, Bihar perceived as caste-sensitive state, and the LIONs from Gujarat thought that the Bhagwat’s remark may back-fire, and their narration changed completely. In the subsequent 19 rallies, messiah of development, MODI ditched his pet theme and his caste and personal poverty became a dominant theme.
- October 25, Patna: “I often think that if Babasaheb Ambedkar had not been there, what would have happened to me? Ek ati-pichhdi maa ki kokh se paida hua, chai bechkar bada hua, ladka aaj yahan kaise pauncha (Born of the womb of an extremely backward mother, grown up selling tea, how did this boy reach so far)?” Modi said. [The PR story of a tea-seller got further stretched ;)]
- Later that day in Nalanda, he again invoked his “ati-pichhda” origin, adding, “The son of a chaiwallah became the Prime Minister.”
- At Marhaura (Chhapra) hours later, Modi talked about his childhood experience of “selling tea on trains”. “When I sold tea in my childhood, sometimes such a babu would come… he would thrash us, throw us out of the train. I remember (it).”
- October 26, Buxar: Now it became a game of polarization of the highest kind. Modi, the Prime-Minister who did not denounce the ‘beef’ killings even once in the two weeks of national outrage, suddenly brings religion into his speeches. He said Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad had earlier demanded religion-based reservation. “A ghost of reservation is being erected,” he said, accusing Nitish, Lalu and Sonia Gandhi of “framing a sinister plan”, “conspiring to snatch 5 per cent reservation each from Dalits, Mahadalits, pichhdon and ati-pichhdon and give it to (members of) other religion”. Astounding to see the guardian of the nation falling to the depths, all for the votes!
- October 30, Gopalganj: Referring to the Congress and Nitish, Lalu rules in Bihar for 60 years, Modi said, “I recently visited a labour colony in Dubai. Of all the labourers I met there, the maximum were from Bihar.” Modi needs to get the stats right !!
- On November 1, Madhubani, he said, “Look at the condition of Bihar today. On per capita income, education and per capita power consumption, Bihar is at 29th rank in India… What all should I count? Jharkhand was a part of yours, but after separation it has moved ahead.”
- November 2, Forbesganj: The PM reiterated that Lalu and Nitish wanted reservation on religious grounds. “Take it from Dalits, Adivasis. Pichhdon se le lo, ati-pichhdon se le lo, aur unko de do. Are you fooling backwards? Are you fooling Dalits?”
- November 2, Darbhanga: Modi talked about the “Darbhanga module” and accused the Nitish government of sheltering terrorists. “Some people were running the module here,” he said, adding that when a “brave Dalit police officer tried to investigate, they forced the Dalit kanya to leave”.
This constant targeting of Bihar continued even after Nitish turned the contest into a “Bahari vs Bihari” fight. The Bihar pride was too much to take all this, I suppose..
Modi and Shah made the same mistakes that they made in Delhi. Nothing learnt from that disaster, while Nitish deployed all the techniques of warfare, aka AAP – localizing the war with sort of Mohalla-sabhas apart from over 450 rallies that Lallu and Nitish addressed.
I wonder how midway through the elections Kejriwal shared that the BJP will be losing badly? I too was skeptical. It seemed to be a lot closer…..… His prophecy came true…. All those who trolled were shocked for sure!
The real reason of this disastrous performance lies in the “lack of self-belief” of Brand Modi, that brought “inconsistency” in message narration (slide from development…caste…religion..terror). A totally confused brand. How can Modi restore his brand appeal to everyone? Only way is to stick and deliver on DEVELOPMENT… nothing else. It is going to get tougher going ahead as the LION has been caged twice!
(Data from various newspaper articles, including IE’s article on what Modi said during various phases of Bihar elections)