Lalu could have taken on Narendra Modi,” was the headline an English broadsheet gave to a page one news story and attributed it to author Arundhati Roy as saying while addressing the CPML congress in Patna last week.
Lalu could have taken on Narendra Modi,” was the headline an English broadsheet gave to a page one news story and attributed it to author Arundhati Roy as saying while addressing the CPIML congress in Patna last week.
Many questions are whirling in my mind as to what was churning in hers when she made such a speech on the state of Opposition unity. Was it a aimed at enthuse the Grand Alliance or her regret over still seeing not any signs on the horizons of the anti-BJP parties coming together or her despair of any such alliance keeping in view the opposition parties pulling in different directions or her rejection of Rahul Gandhi and thereby the Congress claim to lead any such alliance, if possible or was it not a considered statement?
But one aspect of the speech is clear: she gives priority to individual prowess over an ideology to fight the BJP vision of politics. Otherwise she could not have allowed herself to make such a remark, being an author of repute.
It was also an un-marxist and a speculative observation. Marxism considers and analyzes only concrete facts, not ones which could be imagined in blank. It was more a politico’s statement to garner votes than studied opinion to wriggle the country out of the political morass which she feels it has fallen into.
Lalu Yadav appears as a different political personality to different people. He bears all the pros and cons of a hardcore politician who believes in victory irrespective of the means. Whether means should get priority or achieving aims should get precedence has been a point of debate for eons.
No doubt, Lalu Yadav achieved his aim with panache and turned the social relations upside down in Bihar. But he did nothing to upset the economic relations and proved a conservative on this point. He himself once famously said: though he could give swarg (heaven) to the poor but he gave them swar ( voice to speak out) against the social oppression (emphasis added).
But it is also a fact that his party was and is an outfit of overwhelmingly socially and economically dominant subaltern castes with the ranks and files belonging to the small backward castes savoring the crumbs of the cake.
It is this asymmetry that Nitish Kumar corrected by causing a split in the supposedly composite structure of the backward castes and sent him and his party to political wilderness. And now his son Tejaswi Yadav is playing second fiddle to him.
But undoubtedly, Lalu Yadav proved more or less a strong bulwark against the BJP brand of politics. And it is apparent that Ms. Roy reminisced his fight against communalism when she said that Lalu could have been a perfect match to Modi but could not because of his poor health.
But one should not forget that the great freedom fighter and socialist leader Jaiprakash Narayan had led the ’74 Students movement when he was not in the pink of health. Ultimately what matters in politics are the credentials of the leaders, not their skills to show dreams to the masses to dash it later and again come up with promises of another millenarianism.
Nirnimesh Kumar is a retired journalist. He worked in The Hindu for 25 years where he covered the legal beat. But his interest is prolific, including politics and history. He is a post graduate in history from Delhi University.