Foundation of unity of Opposition shaken
Signs had started appearing long back that the distance between Nitish Kumar and Narendra Modi is reducing and the bonhomie with the NDA is growing. The whole country was realising this situation, but those who have the responsibility of building the edifice of opposition unity, remained indifferent and did not notice it. They did not understand that Nitish is particular about his image and power. He is also called a big weathercock of politics. In such a situation, he was not comfortable with the alliance of power with Lalu Prasad Yadav. There were clear indications that he could leave the boat anytime. The opposition stalwarts seemed to have felt that the issues like communalism and being the strongest candidate for the prime minister’s post would be able to keep Nitish deterred, but Nitish had realised that the opposition at the moment could only dream of capturing power at the centre.
Well, there is an old history of Nitish that he does not tolerate corruption. In 2005, he had shown his education minister Jitan Ram Manjhi the door a few hours after taking an oath, because Manjhi’s name had come up in the education scam. When he was in power with the BJP, he had sought resignation from his own party leaders Ramanand Singh and Awadhesh Kushwaha.
Nitish knows that caste equation in Bihar politics is not at all in his favour. He comes from Kurmi community, which is only 4 per cent of the population in Bihar. He gets support of other classes because he is known for good governance and clean image. Had he remained with the Lalu family, he would have had to bear losses. Though he had entered into an alliance with Lalu for capturing power in Bihar and stopping the BJP in 2015 elections, the arithmetic of Bihar election results must certainly have churned his mind. In the Bihar Assembly elections of 2015, the Bharatiya Janata Party got 24.4 per cent votes, while RJD got 18.4 per cent and Janata Dal (United) got 16.8 per cent votes. Clearly, this arithmetic must have compelled him to think that it is wise to go with the BJP. His calculation was simple: There is no hope of Prime Minister’s chair coming his way, but if his image suffers by being in company of Lalu in Bihar, the future will be dark.
Nitish is the veteran politician and with one stone he has killed two birds. The Lalu family is weak and after the latest allegations of corruption, their troubles have only increased. Who can exploit Lalu’s weakness better than Nitish! Nitish, who was with the BJP since 1996, had made ‘Gundaraj’ his weapon in the fight against corruption during Lalu’s tenure, and in 2005 he had joined hands with the BJP to oust Lalu and Rabri from power. Back with the BJP once again, Nitish will not leave any chance to further weaken Lalu now! Nitish’s another goal is to maintain his chair in the next election. Though the Bihar Assembly elections are three years away, even the BJP will not be able to become a party of backward classes during this period. Therefore, Nitish will fill the void because BJP’s image in Bihar is that of a party of upper castes.
The opposition parties which tried to unite against the BJP and Narendra Modi actually did not understand Nitish. Lalu Yadav’s ego was also a big reason behind this. Lalu himself was not in power but he was not leaving any chance to prove that the biggest party in Bihar was his. He started making internal manoeuvers to ensure that Bihar’s next chief minister would be his son Tejashwi Yadav. So in Bihar, it was a matter of direct internal competition between Lalu and Nitish. The need was that the leaders of all opposition parties should have stayed united and tried to reconcile between Lalu and Nitish so that Nitish could have got along well with the opposition parties. In the initiative of unity, certainly Lalu and the Congress could have played a major role. Nitish had also met the Congress high command, but the Congress did not understand the need to tell Lalu that Tejashwi should resign. So why should one not believe that the Congress too is responsible for this political storm to a large extent. In fact, the country is hoping that Congress will behave like a responsible national party as before, but such behaviour is not witnessed anywhere. The Congress is seen as a scared, frightened party. The Congress will have to understand that just opposing ‘Indu Sarkar’ will not work. It will have to take to the streets to open a front against the Modi government. Does the Congress have the guts today? The reality is that Congress is fast losing the opportunities.
As far as the other opposition parties are concerned, the way in which top leaders of the opposition parties across the country had gathered during Nitish’s previous swearing-in ceremony, it had raised hopes that Nitish would become the foundation of opposition unity. There were some expectations from Akhilesh Yadav too, but the BJP defeated him in his fortress. The reason for this is that most parties are being run like a private limited company. Their policies are being framed as per personal ambitions. Some parties are like a family clan. In such a situation, how can people trust the opposition?
Here, the duo of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah is playing the game of victory. In politics, their every move is unique and unmatched. It seems as if a continuous churning is going on in their mind about every corner of the country. Contrary to this, there is no such churning in any opposition party. Modiji and Amit Shah’s pair decides so fast that their opponents are left gaping. Why does the opposition not show similar alacrity in deciding? Time is important in politics. It seems that the time is running out for the opposition parties, and for this opposition parties themselves are responsible.
Before I conclude
Even if Pakistan is in the grips of anarchy, even if the law and order there has gone haywire, even if there is an army intervention in politics, but the judiciary of Pakistan has proved itself powerful at every stage. By showing courage to indict Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for corruption, the judiciary has maintained the hope of justice in the minds of the citizens of that country. This has also proved that the judiciary of Pakistan is not under any pressure.
One more thing
Last week, I had written about Kovindji that he will not prove to be a rubber stamp under any circumstance. I expect this to happen today, but I am surprised by the fact that he did not mention any of the great patriots, freedom fighters, the country’s first prime minister and architect of modern India Jawaharlal Nehru in his address after the swearing-in ceremony. Your Majesty, you should have mentioned Nehruji!
Nobody gains anything from war!
First the story of Iraq..! Just three years ago, a man from the Islamic State Abu Bakar al-Baghdadi declared himself the Khalifah of the world from Mosul city of Iraq. Earlier, he occupied a large part of Iraq and Syria, and the Iraqi army did not have the strength to drive Baghdadi to Mosul. Baghdadi has turned the area under his occupation into slaughterhouse. Nobody knows how many people have been killed by him, but it is feared that lakhs of people were killed. That reign of terror is now being revealed from the discovery of mass graves. Baghdadi’s monsters raped thousands of women and dismembered them. Earlier we used to hear about the evil deeds of Idi Amin but I think that if Idi Amin were alive today, he too would have been shaken by the wickedness of the deeds.
Last year, the Iraqi army and Kurdish fighters attacked the Islamic State in collaboration with the US military. After nearly 9 months of fierce fighting, the Iraqi army achieved the victory over Mosul but nothing was left in that city. Since Mosul was a densely populated city, a large number of people were killed and lakhs of people were displaced in the battle between the army and the Islamic State. There flies the Iraqi army’s flag instead of the Islamic State over the ruined city, but who celebrates the victory? Millions of people have been displaced from Mosul and are living in camps or have gone to other countries seeking shelter.
Now the story of Syria..! A civil war is going on in Syria. There is a government of Bashar al-Assad. The rebellion against Assad began around 6 years back. Gradually, it became the battleground of the great powers. The US wants to dethrone Assad. Russia wants Assad to remain in the saddle. Just these two contrasting positions have ruined Syria. The US is supporting all the rebels who want to dislodge the Assad. They include Islamic State which has played an important role in destroying Iraq. Russia is bombing areas which is a stronghold of rebels supported by the US. In a way, there is an indirect war between Russia and the US. In these 6 years, Syria has been almost devastated. Aleppo, an important Syrian city captured by the rebels, was freed by the government forces, but there was nothing left there. The city has fallen into ruin!
International institutions believe that at least 1 crore 10 lakh people out of Syria’s 2 crore 30 lakh people have left Syria and mostly have been sheltered in different countries of Europe as refugees. Around 2.5 lakh refugees arrived in Europe in 2014 alone. In the subsequent years, this number continued to increase. Think how hard it is to leave your homeland and the tragic thing is how difficult it is to settle in another country as a refugee. You will be surprised to know that many people could not even become refugees. They became slaves. Many people lost their lives trying to reach Europe via the sea. Of those who decided to go to Italy via Libya, many of them were enslaved by Libyan rebel groups i.e. terrorists. Efforts are still being made to find out how many of them are there and where they are.
Many people tried to go to Austria, Sweden and Germany via Hungary, but Hungary blocked the route. As a result, people decided to go via Croatia route, but on that path mines were laid in the 680 km range. These mines were laid during the Balkan War in 1990. Thousands of people died due to mine explosion! There is neither any discussion of these deaths anywhere nor is it being discussed whether the international community will make any effort to make the displaced people ever return to their place of origin. Statistics show that more than 6.5 crore people are living the life of refugees worldwide. A decade back, the number was only 3 crore. After the war in the Middle East, the number is gradually mounting. I would like to refer to the second aspect of this crisis. So many refugees are reaching Europe that there is the real danger of the entire demographic picture undergoing a drastic change. Some countries may lose their civilization and may become Muslim-dominant. There is one more aspect that after the inflow of refugees the crime rate has increased. The incidents of robbery, especially the snatching of bags of tourists have grown. Many of those close to me have become victims. During my visit to Europe, my friends there alerted me that I should take special care of my baggage while travelling. Actually, the refugees have no means of livelihood and therefore, the people are indulging in these types of incidents.
To make life easier for these refugees, United Nations has offered some help and the efforts are continuing, but the question is how can the pain of losing their own homeland be alleviated? As the things stand in the Middle East, there is no likelihood that these refugees will ever return to their homeland. The worst case is that of the children who have been the victims of this war. Their childhood is lost and their future is also bleak. Bana al-Abed, a child born in Aleppo city of Syria and now living in Turkey, described the children’s pain in front of the world through her Twitter account. People from around the world were distressed by her story but nobody could save Aleppo. al-Abed was fortunate enough to find a place where she has continued her studies but just think of the children who have no place called school. What will be the future of those children? Just think of the children who have lost their families in the war and are now staying as orphans in camps or have been adopted by unknown families! I would like to refer to the recent visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Israel where he especially met the boy Moshe who had lost his parents during the terror attack in Mumbai. This gesture of Modiji is very praiseworthy because this is the culture and civilization of India. We give priority to human values but other countries of the world are not that fortunate as to make humanity part of their culture.
As far as the war is concerned, it is not confined to the Middle East alone. There is warlike situation in many smaller African countries as well. Boko Haram in Nigeria has destroyed the entire country. For reference, I would like to tell you that Boko Haram means book is prohibited. If this is the thinking of the organisation, just imagine the condition of the people under it? Some years ago, Boko Haram kidnapped more than 300 schoolgirls and handed them over to the terrorists. The world kept watching! The girls’ parents were left in deep agony!
The truth is that the wars spread all over the world have ruined everyone. Childhood has been destroyed. The life of youth has been turned into hell. All this is happening in the name of caste and religion. Fanaticism and cruelty have harmed religion most. Religion stands condemned and defamed. In this era of science and technology, humanity is on the wane. I am reminded of an old song... “Dekh tere sansaar ki haalat kya ho gayi bhagwan... kitna badal gaya Insaan”. The world has to understand that only devastation comes out of war; nothing good is ever achieved! War only spreads hatred and thirst for blood.
Before I conclude
In Japan there is an island called Okinoshima. There is a temple of Goddess of the sea there, but it is surprising that women are not allowed to go there. That means the regressive thoughts are not just here in our country! In scientifically advanced countries such as Japan too, there are such regressive thoughts. It is imperative to ask the question that when the temple is of Goddess why women are being prevented from going there? But where is the space for scientific questions in the realm of blind faith?