Worrisome State and Fate of Sindhi Language after 70 Years of India’s Partition

India’s Constituent Assembly Debates – Need to Read Again!

By: Dr. Kishore Dere (PhD)

(Independent analyst of  International Relations and International Law)

On 19th of August 2016, Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy had organised an interesting lecture by Vikram Raghavan on ‘Why should we read our Constituent Assembly Debates?’ It was held at the prestigious India International Centre in New Delhi and well-attended by students, professors and lawyers among others. The lucid style of Vikram Raghwan’s lecture had naturally evoked a large number of thought-provoking questions.

Raghavan, trained as a lawyer in India and the US, has co-edited a volume of essays entitled Comparative Constitutionalism in South Asia (Oxford University Press 2013). He had earlier delivered lectures on ‘Granville Austin and the Making of India’s Constitution’ and ‘George Gadbois and the Judges of the Supreme Court of India’.

In his talk, Raghavan used archival material and photographs to draw attention to the initial neglect of the Constituent Assembly Debates in the 1950s. He then referred to the ‘turning points’ on the use of the Debates in the 1960s and 1970s as a tool to interpret key provisions of the Constitution by judges and lawyers. He then analysed the need to read Constituent Assembly Debates, and how such exercise can help resolve various constitutional predicaments and anxieties that we face from time to time.

It is indeed crucial to remind ourselves of the pertinence of such crucial legal and constitutional developments in the history of our republic.

One of the points made by Vikram Raghavan was that rise of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar as a national icon in the context of resurgent Dalit politics contributed to growing recourse to Constituent Assembly Debates by social science scholars to analyse a variety of socio-economic and political matters in Indian society. This rapidly happened mainly in 1990s.  Before that the main users of the debates were Supreme Court judges. In fact there also exists a series of judgements on the utility of reading the Constituent Assembly Debates in interpreting the Constitution of India. The use of these debates was so rare that it was difficult to find publications of those proceedings. Libraries of universities, law schools and public libraries hardly had copies of these voluminous proceedings. Subsequently, many publications came out.  Nowadays, these debates are available online besides being there in hard-copy.

Today as one reads them, one gets an opportunity to comprehend complexities of the subject matters discussed in the Constituent Assembly. It was an era of turmoil and turbulence in the life a newly independent nation. It was a period of joy of independence marred by sorrow and pain of partition and accompanying violence, migration of people from both sides, and widespread suspicion, rumour-mongering and hatred.  Right from who should be the citizen of India and what should be the form of government to the Consolidated Fund of India, and judicial independence, a vast range of subjects was critically debated and analysed by the Constituent Assembly members. Of course, there were many informal and formal parleys that took place outside the Constituent Assembly as well. All those discussions of course do not figure in the proceedings of the Constituent Assembly Debates. In order to fully grasp the constitution-making process in India, one should also read biographies, autobiographies, memoirs, interviews of those involved in this marathon process. These should be further supplemented by critical analysis of the multi-volume Transfer of Power. By now there are also Supreme Court judgements along with writings and commentaries by constitutional experts on these and allied matters. Undoubtedly Constituent Assembly Debates are not perfect yet they are the most authentic source available to know the subject as it evolved.

After all, today we are living in an era of law firms and corporate lawyers. Outsourcing of work to law firms has become order of the day. The trend is so dominant that even Constitutions of certain counties are said to be written by national or international law firms. It is a kind of ‘outsourcing’! by the legislatures and lawmakers if one may term it so. To call it a ‘delegated legislation’(?) would be tantamount to either abusing the term or regressively redefining it. It will be a travesty of justice.

This, however, does not apply to the Constitution of India and its framers. The Constituent Assembly took almost three years (two years, eleven months and seventeen days to be precise) to complete its historic task of drafting the Constitution for Independent India. During this period, it held eleven sessions covering a total of 165 days. Of these, 114 days were spent on the consideration of the Draft Constitution.

As to its composition, members were chosen by indirect election by the members of the Provincial Legislative Assemblies, according to the scheme recommended by the Cabinet Mission. The arrangement was: (i) 292 members were elected through the Provincial Legislative Assemblies; (ii) 93 members represented the Indian Princely States; and (iii) 4 members represented the Chief Commissioners’ Provinces. The total membership of the Assembly thus was to be 389. However, as a result of the partition under the Mountbatten Plan of 3 June, 1947, a separate Constituent Assembly was set up for Pakistan and representatives of some Provinces ceased to be members of the Assembly. As a result, the membership of the Assembly was reduced to 299.

So it would be a worthwhile exercise to read the proceedings of such a democratically elected serious body of eminent and dedicated public representatives. Most of them had sacrificed their lucrative careers and plunged into the freedom struggle. They had the vision, statesmanship and commitment to make India a democratic and sovereign republic. Their vision was not blurred by dogmas of ideology, compulsions of electoral politics, blinkers of partisan politics or any other narrow-minded, short-sighted parochial consideration and primordial loyalty. By reading the Constituent Assembly Debates, all of us may be reminded of our rights as well as duties as citizens of India. That in turn would help develop the spirit of responsible citizenship across the length and breadth of India.

India’s Soft Power: Buddha to Bollywood

By: Dr. Kishore Dere (PhD)
(Independent analyst of International Relations and International Law)
Professor Daya Kishan Thussu, an erudite Kashmiri Pandit, currently serving at Westminster University in London, on 18th August 2016, delivered a highly stimulating lecture at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. It was on the topic ‘Communicating India’s Soft Power: Buddha to Bollywood’. In fact this very topic also happens to be the title of his scholarly book published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2013.
The lecture covered a wide range of topics. It was an interesting analysis of how India’s soft power i.e. cultural, institutional attractions and diaspora contributions were shaping and moulding the image of India in the minds of international community. He was, however,  worried that no concerted efforts are being made to project Indian achievements. The world does not know what is an Indian view on WTO, United Nations, or for that matter any burning issue that affects the larger international community. He pointed out that most of the Indian newspapers, TV channels do not have foreign correspondents across the world. It is not due to lack of resources but due to lack of willingness. If there is BBC, CNN, Al-Jazeera (Arab world), Press TV (Iran), CCTV (China), Deutch Welle TV (Germany), TV5 (France), and Russia TV among others to articulate a particular viewpoint and are accessible the world over, Door Darshan (DD) of India does not have any presence or influence abroad. Nor does it have any specific view or line of thinking.           
Professor Daya Kishan Thussu argues that the concept of ‘soft power’ coined by an American political scientist Professor Joseph S. Nye at Harvard University in a particular geo-political and socio-cultural context needs to be de-Americanised. He cited a number of such projects in various countries including the People’s Republic of China to redefine ‘soft power’ from their own perspectives. It was his lament there were no concerted institutionalised efforts by Indian government to look after this valuable dimension of public diplomacy.          
Daya Kishan Thussu, calls his work a transgressive analysis, crossing the disciplinary boundaries between the fields of international communication and international relations. He attempts to refine and ‘de-Americanise’ the concept of soft power. He does this by focusing  more on the modes of transmission rather than substantive effects of soft power: on the ways in which India’s diaspora, information technology (IT) industry, cultural establishment and brand marketers, both public and private, contribute to India’s soft power of attraction.
He argues that though Indians are the inheritors of an extraordinarily rich cultural heritage, the Indian state struggles to utilise these resources to build ‘soft power’ and to leverage it in world politics. Thussu highlights both ancient and contemporary aspects of that inheritance: India’s Buddhist tradition and its intellectual wealth, its capacity to generate ‘composite culture’ out of Hindu, Islamic and other religious thought, its democratic politics, its media and IT assets, its cuisine and cinema. He concedes that that these attractive attributes are balanced by the persistently unattractive features of Indian society – especially the poverty, deprivation and inequality in which so many continue to live – but still finds it hard to understand why the state cannot make more of India’s soft power assets.
Thussu began his analysis with two scene-setting chapters, one on the advent of the concept of soft power and its adaption by Asian states, especially China, and the next on the historical development of India’s soft power resources. Both are necessarily fast-paced, as Thussu covers an extensive conceptual literature and then some two and a half thousand years of Indian history, from Panini’s systematising of Sanskrit grammar to Nehru’s ideas and practices of nonalignment. He notes in passing the differences between the more corporate conceptions of soft power and public diplomacy in the USA and tenaciously state-centric Chinese ‘soft propaganda’ (p. 37), implying that India might prefer the former to the latter. And he well captures the sheer range of ideas that India might try to leverage, from ancient Indian philosophy to Rabindranath Tagore’s syncretic globalism.
The remainder of the book explores the different channels of communicating India’s soft power to the contemporary world. Thussu examines in detail the impact of India’s diaspora on their host societies – and the ways in which the Indian state has wooed that diaspora since the 1990s, seeking their capital for inward investment and their know-how for innovation. He then turns to ‘software for soft power’ – private sector assets and ‘intellectual infrastructure’ (p. 126) – and their uses in India’s nascent aid and development assistance programmes, and in official public diplomacy. The final two chapters look at culture and marketing. Thussu provides a fine-grained analysis of Bollywood’s influence not just in Asia, but in Latin America, where the Brazilian soap opera India – A love story ran for 206 episodes and won an International Emmy in 2009. Finally, he examines the ‘nation branding’ of India by organisations like the India Brand Equity Foundation, and the branding of specific practices: cricket, yoga, food, democracy and nonalignment.
Thussu rightly criticises successive Indian governments for not taking public diplomacy as seriously as it might and observes that the size of the Indian Foreign Service, by far the smallest of any major power, is partly to blame for this and other diplomatic failings. But he also notes that the Indian state is generally bad at communication, with its own people as well as foreign audiences. He has doubts too about the further involvement of the corporate sector in nation branding and public diplomacy, suggesting that India’s business elite is more interested in Western ideologies than the Indian people and their inheritance. Thussu hinted that a partnership with China to redefine international norms and ‘change the discourse on global affairs’ could be a preferable option.
His rich analysis offered the detailed analysis of Indian soft power and its constant evolution, and in an innovative way, especially in its conclusion that ‘Chindia’ might seek the ‘de-Westoxification’ of Asia and the wider world.
By the way Indian soft power is a relatively less explored academic theme and therefore happens to be a highly promising topic for research scholars. The possibility of collaboration between India and China has been talked about by a variety of people although it tends to be frowned upon by many a realist.
One may still peruse the work of political leader Jairam Ramesh along with veteran commentators like Kishore Mabhubani and Prem Shankar Jha in this context. One does not necessarily have to subscribe to their views. Yet it may worthwhile to at least know the possible areas in which India and China can work together. After all that is what soft power is all about. Hardening of diametrically opposite views may continue while soft power also can be made more lucrative, remunerative and attractive to work. If soft power succeeds then it is always a win-win solution instead of the dominant zero sum game model in which only one view prevails while the other one is dismissed and discarded. If possible, realism be avoided and soft power approach be favoured.  

Thank You PM Modi for Supporting Strategic-Orphans of Balochistan, POK and Gilgit!

By: Dr. Kishore Dere (PhD)
(Independent analyst of International Relations and International Law)
Although professional dissidents and compulsive detractors of Prime Minister Narendra Modi have lost no time in mercilessly (and also blindly) criticising him for his comments on Balochistan issue, history will judge him otherwise and that too in a better way. It is for the first time since the violent creation of Pakistan by brutally dividing India in 1947, that the voiceless, helpless and hapless people of these areas have been sympathetically represented at an international forum by a foreign head of state.
Day in day out, Pakistan waxes eloquent about human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir and other parts of India on the basis of concocted and fabricated stories. Yet, Pakistan is a country that is notorious for perpetrating broad daylight robbery of Baloch natural resources. It is this very dangerous country that relentlessly oppresses, represses and suppresses the pro-freedom people in Pok, Gilgit, Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Pakistan also supports terrorism against Iran, Afghanistan, Western world, Israel and last but not the least India. It remains a mystery for many people of the world as to why Pakistan maintains stunning silence on human rights violations in its own jurisdiction.  It is indeed well-known that Balochistan is the province with enormous deposits of natural resources. Yet Punjabi-dominated Federal Government of Pakistan in Islamabad routinely discriminates against Balochistan. Thus, PM Narendra Modi deserves kudos for taking up the cause of orphans in international community.         
There is no dearth of self-styled and self-proclaimed pacifists and so-called peace lovers in India and elsewhere who want India to perennially remain subservient to Pakistan. A critical analysis of Indian pacifism is bound to show that Pakistan has been emboldened by such timidity and cowardice. Therefore, the much needed and new-found policy dynamism in Indian foreign policy initiated by Modi needs to be welcomed.   
Following an all-party meeting in New Delhi on 12th August 2016 on the issue of violence in Jammu and Kashmir and during his address to the nation from the ramparts of historic Red Fort on 15th August 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken a historic initiative to articulate the agony and anguish of the helpless and hapless people of Balochistan, Gilgit and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) or what Pakistan shamelessly refers to as ‘Azad Kashmir’. Modi alluded to blatant human rights violations of innocent and unarmed civilians by Islamic Republic of Pakistan and its instrumentalities. His comments on Balochistan offer voice to voiceless, and help to helpless and hapless.
A self-confessed sponsor of terrorism like Pakistan needs to be paid back in its own coin. It ought to be made to realize deadly consequence of its deliberate actions against others. It has the audacity to term ‘terrorists’ as its ‘strategic assets’.
In the tit for tat world of international politics, sovereign nations often rely on realism than idealism as their foreign policy determinant. For example, in 1923, the-then US Secretary of State, Charles Evans while countering President Woodrow Wilson had said, “Foreign policies are not built upon abstractions. They are the result of practical conceptions of national interest arising from some immediate exigency or standing out vividly in historical perspective.” (Glenn P Hastedt, Encyclopedia of American Foreign Policy, 2002).
Dogmatic adherence to abstract principles, doctrinal monotonousness or isolationism have hardly ever served India’s national interests during last 70 years. Nor are they likely to do so in the rapidly changing geo-strategic affairs. India’s peculiar geopolitical position means that the hostile environment in which New Delhi pursues its vital national interests will become increasingly more complex.
India shares borders on one side with a country that uses terrorism as state policy. Another powerful neighbour of ours wants to radically overhaul the world order to undo what it calls injustice done to it in the past. It is a highly subjective interpretation of history by China on the basis of which it displays greater assertiveness as well as aggressiveness and abusiveness. It is only because of this idiosyncratic ‘world view of history’ of one and ‘strategy of terrorists as national assets’ of another that China and Pakistan have become fond bed-fellows in today’s world politics.  True, not just Pakistan and China alone, every country always acts according to its own interest but nations must not be oblivious of the larger picture of the world where we live and our common interests of peaceful co-existence.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech at Red Fort on Independence Day is indeed remarkable. A career diplomat and former national security advisor Shivshankar Menon had stated in his speech at the National Law University in Delhi in November 2015, despite their avowed intents “Russia sells arms to Pakistan, the US supplies arms and discusses Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and China has committed $46 billion to an economic corridor and Gwadar in Pakistan. India urges the West to refrain from supporting Pakistan, but countries will act according to their own interests. So long as Pakistani terrorism does not harm them, they will not expend blood or treasure eliminating Pakistan origin terrorism for India”.
What does all this mean?
It undoubtedly means that India cannot afford to define its strategic policies solely on Nehruvian ideals of pacifism, non-alignment and disarmament. This does not necessarily mean that India should develop an appetite for interventionism anywhere and everywhere. Yet India ought to look for using bargaining chips to overcome the challenges posed by a deepening Sino-Pakistan strategic partnership. It is in this context that one must place India’s latest shift.
Modi’s overtures to Balochistan are an acknowledgement of the state-sponsored atrocities unleashed by Pakistan on its own people. Far from weakening our moral position, this gives us leverage in dealing with Pakistan and exposes it as an occupying force, an imperialist power. By publicly acknowledging the struggle of the Baloch people, India has made a very new political statement.
It is worthwhile to look at what Modi he said from the ramparts of Red Fort in his speech to mark 70th year of Independence. He said, “Today, I want to especially honour and thank some people from the ramparts of the Red Fort. For the past few days, the people of Balochistan, people of Gilgit, people of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, the way their citizens have heartily thanked me, the way they have acknowledged me, the goodwill they have shown towards me, people settled far across, the land which I have not seen, people I have not met ever, but people settled far across acknowledge the Prime Minister of India, they honour him, so it is an honour of my 125 crore countrymen, it is respect of my 125 crore countrymen, and that is why, owing to the feeling of this honour, I want to heartily thank the people of Balochistan, people of Gilgit, people of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir for having an expression of thankfulness”.
Kanwal Sibal, former Foreign Secretary, told PTI that Modi deserves praise for delivering a direct response to Pakistan’s provocations: “By raising the Balochistan issue, Modi has changed the rules of the game. From the PM’s point of view, this is a warning signal to Pakistan”.
Former High Commissioner to Pakistan, G Parthasarathy said it was a “long overdue” and a “necessary step… there has to be some inducement for Pakistan to fall in line”.
“India has been more restrained than necessary despite Pakistan constantly carrying out propaganda on Kashmir, calling it the legacy of Partition. If that’s the case, Balochistan also is a legacy of Partition,” said Parthasarathy. He also recalled how Jinnah recognised Balochistan’s independent status before Pakistan procured and secured its accession.
Going by Pakistan’s sharp and pungent reaction, it is obvious that Pakistan has realised what it is doing. Besides the diplomatic leverage, India has a moral obligation to stand by Balochistan, Gilgit, PoK, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. India should help the needy who have been neglected by selfish and self-centred world powers.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that PM Modi has added a new leaf to Indian strategic thinking. This is indeed a new direction in which Indian foreign policy should move, at least occasionally.

Reasons and Seasons of Protest in India

By: Dr. Kishore Dere

(Supreme Court Advocate and Visiting Professor of International Law and International Relations)

Of late, there has been a wave of protests in India – the biggest and largest functioning democracy in the world. One should not be surprised at all about the surge of protests because dissent, disagreement, debate, discussion, criticism, and opposition are the very essence of the vibrant democratic way of life. Thus democracy not merely as a form of government but as a way of life entails even opposition for the sake of opposition if that serves enlightened public interest.

So, more the protests, better it is. Therefore, let us heartily welcome protests and congratulate protestors of all hues and shades, not just one.

Their valid causes need to be espoused by us.

In fact, one is reminded of what a great French philosopher Voltaire said, “I don’t agree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it”.

Now this is indeed a double-edged sword.

If the protestors for a variety of reasons, best known to them only, want to protest against rising intolerance only at a particular point of time, they are quite within their right to do so. It is quite unfair to question their choice. One should support them in exercising their right to do so.

But any well-meaning person will accept the hard fact that nobody has monopoly over truth.

Therefore, the critics of such seasonal protestors also have a democratic right to question the motive behind such occasional, seasonal  or selective  protests.

Both the sides have an equally justified right in questioning each other. Nobody has a final say.

It is an ongoing debate.

Only time will tell who is bad and who is worse.

If there are people in society who want to endorse or turn a blind eye towards many other forms of intolerance and want to single out only one, either real or imaginary, then their critics will become vociferous and quite justifiably so.  In other words, in order to prove one’s impartiality and objectivity, it is essential that one ought to call spade a spade and not be hand in glove with any group or faction.

Otherwise, one risks becoming a laughing stock and butt of jokes.

So, dear seasonal protestors, it is in your own enlightened self-interest as well as the larger interest of reasoned debate to be fair, objective and bold enough to squarely criticise wrong-doings of all and roundly condemn the intolerance emanating from all quarters.

Selective amnesia is not at all a panacea.

It can only offer short-term publicity to few but undermine the long-term goal of peace and progress of human civilisation.

Thus, “choice is yours”, Lord Krishna had used these wise words in his message to Arjun.

So, it is up to you whether you want to go down in history as reasonably objective persons or unabashedly and unashamedly subjective ones. Best wishes to you in making your own choice.

Paris Terrorist Attacks: Business as Usual?

By : Dr Kishore Dere

(Supreme Court Advocate and Visiting Professor of International Law and International Relations)

As France prepares to play host to the UN Climate Change Summit at the end of this month,  just few days ahead of that,  there have been deadly terrorist attacks in Paris.  On 13 November 2015,  the night of violence unfolded soon after 21:00 (GMT 20:00) ) as people were enjoying a Friday night out in the French capital.  International news media is awash with this coverage.  BBC, CNN and AFP reports,  among others,  available on their respective websites are being extensively used for writing this piece.

The latest terrorist attacks at multiple locations in French capital have resulted in the killing of at least 130 innocent lives and injuring over 180 people,  80 of whom are in a critical condition.  This is the deadliest peacetime attack in France and the worst in Europe since the 2004 Madrid bombings.

As usual,  the debate has begun over who might be the perpetrators of such heinous attacks and what might be their motive behind carrying out such ghastly attacks?

Before jumping to the conclusion,  this question may be answered by looking at the pattern of violence and targets which included bars, restaurants,  a concert and aa high-profile football match between France and Germany where President François Hollande himself was a spectator.

At least one gunman opened fire on Le Carillon bar in the rue Alibert, not far from the place de la Republique, before heading across the road to Le Petit Cambodge (Little Cambodia), killing at least 12 people.

A few streets away, another gunman then opened fire on dinners sitting on the terrace of La Casa Nostra pizzeria in rue de la Fontaine au Roi, with the loss of at least five lives. At around the same time, on the southern outskirts of Paris,  80, 000 people who had gathered to watch France play Germany at the Stade de France heard three explosions outside the stadium about half an hour after kick-off.

President Hollande was among the spectators and was whisked to safety after the first explosion.

It later emerged three suicide bombers blew themselves up at fast food outlets and a brasserie near the stadium.

The attack on the 15, 00-seat Bataclan concert hall was by far the deadliest of Friday night’s attacks.  Gunmen opened fire on people watching US rock group Eagles of Death Metal. The event had been sold out.

The gunmen took 20 hostages,  and told their captives: ” It’s the fault of Hollande,  it’s the fault of your president,  he should not have intervened in Syria. ”

Within an hour,  security forces had stormed the concert hall and all four attackers there were dead. Three had blown themselves up and a fourth was short dead by police. Police believe all of the gunmen are dead – seven killed themselves with explosive vests and one was shot dead by the security forces – but it is unclear if any accomplices are still on the run.

Thus by now the finger of suspicion is bound to be raised towards the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS or IS) group. And in fact,  the latest reports say, ISIS has already released a statement on Saturday saying “eight brothers wearing explosive belts and carrying assault rifles had carried out the attacks on “carefully chosen” targets, and were a response to France’s involvement in the air strikes on IS militants in Syria and Iraq”. That is to say,  the IS has claimed responsibility the attacks.

In fact one should indeed have a long sigh of relief for this statement by the ISIS. This would prevent and pre-ampt one from being accused of being involved – in favor of or against any particular group.

The Paris attacks and the subsequent IS statement should not even leave even an iota of doubt in any sane person’s mind that the ISIS and its affiliates are bound to pursue their killing spree anywhere and everywhere in the days, months and years to come.

Various world leaders have rightly condemned the deadliest attacks.

Indian Prime Minister,  Narendra Modi, in his address to the British Members of Parliament on 12 November had rightly called for an early adoption of the Comprehensive Convention against International Terrorism by the United Nations.  This is indeed an emphatic reiteration of India’s several decade-long principled stand on the scourge of terrorism.

Let us wait and watch whether this ever happens or remains a mere pious wish as various members of international community jostle for power and settle scores with each other.

Lack of consensus among nations of the world on the definition of ‘terrorism’ is a major problem even today.

Any kind of dilly-dallying and wishy-wishy response of opportunistic and power-hungry nations and sponsors of terrorism may only embolden the resolve of terrorists who are committed to their ’cause’ of killing anybody and everybody whom they perceive or suspect to be an opponent.

Let us hope brute power-driven world politics does not subvert rationality-based and equity-oriented international law and the sublime cause to victims of terrorism around the world.

Bihar Legislative Assembly Election Results 2015 and Beyond

By : Dr Kishore Dere

(Supreme Court Advocate,  and Visiting Professor of International Relations and International Law)

Like any free, fair and transparent election, the recently concluded (October-November 2015) Bihar Legislative Assembly elections too have sprung up many a surprise.

First and foremost the self-styled and self – proclaimed as well as professional psychologists have been disappointed. Their methodological approaches and data sampling techniques used in pre-poll surveys and exit polls have been proven to be inadequate to say the least.

Secondly,  the overconfident and talkative members of the National Democratic Alliance have been stunned. (Blame game has already begun in the BJP amidst calls for introspection. ) One must,  however,  credit Prime Minister Narendra Modi for losing no time in congratulating the Bihar CM Nitish Kumar for his fourth successive electoral victory.

Despite the swift congratulatory message from the PM to the triumphant opponent,  and the victory of non-BJP/non-NDA alliance in the polls, the professed critics of BJP continue to aggressively assert that the BJP is progressively ‘Fascist’ and antithetical to democracy.

Thirdly,  it is indeed confounding to say whether economic development or caste-based reservations and extension of those benefits to Muslims and Christians in Bihar were determinants in casting votes by the voters.

Fourthly, just as in the Delhi Legislative Assembly elections of Jan-Feb 2015, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) led by Arvind Kejarival was given an over-whelming majority by the voters, the Rashtriya Janata Dal led by Right Honorable Lalu Prasad Yadav too has been given a pleasant surprise by the mature and shrewd voters of Bihar.

In other words caste,  religion, region and language were the dominant factors in deciding the electoral outcome.

This may seem to be appalling to the votaries of modernity and proponents of classless,  casteless, secular pan-Indian identity and pacifist nationalism.

But in the words of Lord Meghnad Desai, this is actually the ‘subaltern’ politics of India. In fact this can be corroborated by recalling the statement of the Honorable Chief Minister of Bihar Nitish Kumar himself who had ‘urged’ voters to prefer the Bihari (native Nitish Kumar) over the Bahari (outsider Narendra Modi).

The voters seem to have this advice seriously.  Otherwise this very leader has been in the forefront of criticizing ‘xenophobic’ politics taken recourse to by some of the political parties in Assam and Maharashtra.  Thus,  it is interesting to see the things coming full circle.

The ironies,  however, do not end here.  Now the leader of the RJD, however, wants to move out of Bihar,  and become a leader by waging a campaign to dislodge the union government led by PM Narendra Modi.

He has promised to initiate this process from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, the constituency represented by the PM in the current Lok Sabha.

As always future is pregnant with so many imponderables.  One has to wait and watch with bated breath.  In the meantime life continues to move and we grudgingly come to terms with reality.

%d bloggers like this: