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Monday, July 08, 2013

Analysis: How 'Minority Politics' Is Bleeding Bihar?

By Manoj Kumar / Patna

‘Minority politics’ is slowly weakening Bihar. The state which was earlier being used as a transit point by terrorists of several hues is now under their direct assault. This is evident from bomb blasts at Bodh Gaya.

In the past five years, especially after the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks, a number of suspected terrorists have been arrested by the security agencies from Bihar. A majority of them are from north-eastern Bihar, including districts such as Darbhanga, Madhubani, Sitamarhi, Purnia and Kishanganj.
However, the state government never took it seriously. Rather, it strongly objected to the way the central agencies had been arresting the “innocent” Muslim youths without intimating the state government.

In May last year, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar even objected strongly to the way Karnataka police arrested a suspect terrorist, Kafil Akhtar, from Darbhanga. Akhtar was suspected to be involved in Chinnaswami cricket stadium blasts. The reason why Nitish had fumed in public was that the Karnataka police had not informed the Bihar state police while laying a trap to nab the suspect.

“I have got information from the police officials in Bihar that Karnataka police have arrested a person in Darbhnaga. We have sought a report on this. I raised this issue during NCTC meeting. This is not right, there was no information with us. We will send this information to the Home ministry,” was what Nitish had told the media then.

That was despite the fact that of the 14 Indian Mujahideen operatives arrested in the past few years, 13 were from Darbhanga district alone. Then, he raised his strong objection over the way the security agency coined the term ‘Darbhnga module’ and ‘Madhubani module’, describing it an attempt to defame Bihar.

If that was not enough, Nitish has also opposed tooth and nail the formation of the National Counter Terrorism Centre more than twice. Only last month, he, during the chief ministers’ conference held in Delhi, had opposed the NCTC. Last year too, he along with other chief ministers – Mamata Banerjee, Jayalalithaa and Naveen Patnaik – had opposed the idea of the counter terrorism centre during the conference of chief ministers on national security, and instead advocated for strengthening the National Investigation Agency. The result has been that Bihar recently emerged as a ‘safe corridor’ of disruptive forces as they found the power-greedy politicians fighting for Muslim votes.

The mad scramble to get the support of the Muslim community to stay in power, however, is not a new phenomenon.

In the past two decades since votebank politics got a new dimension, the politicians of all hues have been accused of turning a blind eye to the most sensitive issue of security apparently out of apprehension that any move to touch the politically significant community may end up with loss of around 17 percent votes. What began with former chief minister and RJD president Lalu Prasad is now being actively followed by Nitish Kumar.

Lalu, who was just trying to cement his feet in Bihar politics after becoming the chief minister of the state in March 1990, became the darling of the minority community overnight after he got LK Advani arrested at Samastipur. Advani was on a rath yatra across the country creating awareness on the Ayodhya Ramjanmabhoomi movement.

Political experts say Nitish, Lalu’s arch-rival, has been busy outdoing the latter. It was to win over the minority community that he broke the 17-year-old alliance with the BJP, which was instrumental in his coronation as the new chief minister of Bihar. The mad competition to woo the minority voters is underlined from the fact that JD(U) leaders are now claiming that it was Sharad Yadav and Ranjan Yadav who pressurised Lalu to arrest Advani as Lalu was dithering on a decision to arrest the firebrand BJP leader. It’s another matter that Nitish now finds Advani as ‘secular’ as Atal Behari Vajpayee.

But Nitish claims his move to break alliance with the ‘communal’ BJP was not the part of votebank politics but his commitment of not to compromise with “basic principles”. “Thank God, I was able to smell the deadly agenda of the BJP on time or I would have been left in a very serious situation,” remarked the Bihar chief minster while addressing his party men at his residence on Sunday, declaring, “I would prefer getting finished, rather than compromising with my party’s principles”.