The recently concluded Bihar elections was the most interest in Bihar I have ever seen.
Till a few weeks back, Bihar was the joker in the pack. The easiest to ridicule, get laughs out of. When someone says they’re from Bihar, a silence follows, since nobody wants to say anything.
Behind their backs, jokes about rickshawalas, uneducated paan-chewing brutes are cracked, and consumed. Even Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who was the bloody Prime Minister of the country, was ridiculed for being, afterall, a ‘Bihari’.
But he’s Vajpayee, and he’s a poet and stuff, so you can’t fuck with him. He quickly replied that he is ‘Bihari’, yes. But he is also ‘Atal’ (firm).
The point is, till last week, Bihar didn’t figure in the serious landscape of the regular Scroll-consuming Facebooker.
Now suddenly, everybody wants to talk about Bihar.
People who haven’t been to the state even once, have no idea what it was bifurcated into, or even the names of the parties contesting. Today, everybody wants a piece of Bihar.
And the entire discussion is from two view-points.
1. Those who feel Bihar committed a gigantic mistake because by not voting for Modi. Which automatically means they didn’t vote for BJP, which automatically means they don’t want development. They want to live in sand dunes and drink water by plucking cactuses and sucking out the water. I met one guy who had had a few beers, and he was going about banging doors screaming ‘Faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack’ for at least two hours.
Even before the election, Modi spoke about there being some problem with the Bihari ‘DNA’. After the loss, a BJP member said Biharis deserve to be ‘rickshawallahs’.
She only said it because she could. Because you can say something like that against Biharis, but not against Marathis. Cos those guys will break shops and set fire to police vans if you do. Our entire opinion of Bihar has been at best, terribly condescending.
Which, well, is exactly the kind of thing I’d expect from a Modi fanboy anyway. I admit the huge generalization I am making, but allow me to make my point.
It has been more than a year that Modi was elected the Prime Minister of India, and we are yet to get an objective opinion on the guy. BJP fans believe they own Modi, and accept no criticism whatsoever against the man. Which is rather sad. He’s the country’s Prime Minister guys, not the chief of a political party. But BJP guys run to save him like he still belongs to them.
The second opinion is of the kind I’d generously typecast as the ‘liberals’, which sadly, has been reduced to an anti-Modi brigand. The kind who shares articles by Scroll and says that Tipu Sultan was a noble king who fed milk and honey and almonds to pigeons on his terrace.
On this side of the fence, there were celebrations and revelry. ‘Bihar, you made us proud today!’.
Really? Who the fuck is ‘us’ anyway?
You think the Bihari voter gives a fuck about your issues? Have you lived in Bihar? Apart from stopping Modi, does anything else about the election affect you? To cheer for Laloo Prasad Yadav, the poster boy of bovine corruption puts in question your support all along for politics free of corruption and dynastical politics.
Laloo’s Rashtriya Janata Dal won the most seats in this election, and his party has the most number of MPs with criminal records.
But we shall appropriate Bihar and celebrate an imagined victory because it validates our stance against Modi on a fucking Facebook debate! Wah, bhai!
To me, it was always a game of numbers. When the two largest parties of a state get together to keep you out, there isn’t much you can do. It’s like AIADMK getting together with DMK in Tamil Nadu – what can you possibly hope to win?
Flying in Modi and his promises in the last moment might not really affect one’s opinion. With 40 parliamentary seats from Bihar, it is a game that is mired in identity politics, caste and hereditary loyalty.
May be it is a problem that BJP’s entire campaign was built on development, and it still didn’t work. May be the Bihari voter has nothing to do with FDI and foreign trips and personal suits with names embroidered into it.
As it is, Bihar has landed itself in a quagmire.
What happens after the dust settles? With the common enemy ousted, and Laloo’s RJD having won the most seats, how long is the bonhomie going to last? How safe can a ship sail when the captain doesn’t have the largest crew?
Bihar has its own issues to deal with. Appropriating Bihar to fill the colour of the lens you see the world with, doesn’t amount to jackshit.
It makes a rat’s ass of a difference.