Bihar Youth Seeks Jobs

‘Jobs Promises Made in Poll Season Are Forgotten During Rule’

Md Shamsh Tabrez, who has been in the teaching profession for the last ten years, says Bihar youth has hit the streets to remind the Govt of its employment promises

The employment rate in Bihar is very low. For years, we have been witnessing brain drain from the state. The brilliant minds from this state are migrating to other states and helping the host states build and flourish. However, in the whole process, Bihar has been losing in the race of development.

However, a lot has changed in the past few years. People are now expecting from the government to generate job opportunities both in the private and government sectors. We have recently seen people coming out on streets and vociferously demanding jobs.

However, the saddest part is that these job aspirants are being lathi-charged for asking what their right is. Last month, we saw how the Bihar Police lathi-charged and used water cannons on protesters in Patna, which included several teaching job aspirants.

A video of an official repeatedly assaulting a demonstrator holding the national flag while lying on the road surfaced as well, drawing condemnation from all sides of the political spectrum.

The new government has assured that there will be the next phase of vacancies soon in different departments of the state government. Since the Rashtriya Janata Dal has joined the newly formed coalition government, the job demand has risen again as people are reminding Tejashwi Yadav to fulfil his promise of providing 10 lakhs jobs.

ALSO READ: ‘Nitish Has Played His Last Card, JD(U) Will Soon Dissolve’

In the 2020 assembly elections in the state, Tejashwi Yadav from the RJD had promised to create 10 lakh jobs. This also worked to some extent for the RJD as the party emerged as the single-largest party in Bihar with 75 seats.

After the new alliance with the RJD, Nitish Kumar, on the 75th Independence Day, said that the new JD(U) and RJD alliance will soon work out a plan to create 10 lakh new jobs in the government sector. Another 10 lakh employment opportunities will be created in additional sectors.

Though we all are preparing for writing state exams, in my view, there is a very little chance of providing as many jobs as promised by Tejashwi Yadav and Nitish Kumar both. I think the announcements have been made in respect to the coming general elections of 2024.

Political parties are preparing hard for the general elections. We have seen in the past and will see many new announcements made, especially related to jobs. But it’s very difficult to accept that all promises will be fulfilled when the election is over. We need to take the job promises of the government with a pinch of salt.

As told to Md Tausif Alam

Nitish Kumar

Every Angle Should Be Probed: Nitish on Begusarai Firing

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Wednesday said that a probe should examine all angles in the firing incidents that took place in Begusarai yesterday claiming the life of one person while leaving nine injured.

“We have called a meeting and held a detailed discussion on this incident. A probe should be done from every angle into this incident. A few days ago, I conducted a meeting to review law and order in the state,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Kumar said that he had instructed the officers to remain vigilant.

One person died while nine others sustained injuries in separate firing incidents at different locations on Tuesday in Bihar’s Begusarai. Following the incidents, Bihar Police on Wednesday suspended seven police officials.

Addressing media persons, Additional Director General of Police (HQ) Jitendra Singh Gangwar said, “Prima facie, our patrolling party was on the streets. Still, they either could not stop the criminals or could not do the checking. In this connection, seven police officials have been suspended with immediate effect.”

Asked about the attackers, ADG Gangwar said CCTV footage captured the assailants and police are verifying their identities. He said some people have been detained and police are questioning them.

Meanwhile, hitting out at the state government, former Union minister and BJP national spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said, “I was trying to set up industries in Begusarai but now bullets are being fired like terrorists in Punjab and Kashmir. So many people have been shot and injured. This is a big incident in Bihar. The morale of criminals is increasing in Bihar and people will not forgive those who boost the morale of criminals.”

The BJP leader said these kinds of incidents will defame the image of the state and asked the Bihar government which direction the state has been going.

“What will be the image of Bihar in the country? Nitish Kumar needs to check this situation,” Hussain said.

Jeetu Paswan, one of the injured told ANI that he was selling ice cream at Malhipur Chowk when the assailants came and shot at him. He said another person who was near him was also shot at.

As per police, two bike-borne assailants are behind the firing incidents in which several people are reported to be injured.

“Two persons with bullet injuries have been brought to the hospital,” said the doctor in the Government hospital in Teghra. Further investigation into the matter is underway. (ANI)

Begusarai Firing: Morale Of Criminals Increasing In Bihar, Says Shahnawaz

After two bike-borne miscreants shot at nine people, killing one in Bihar’s Begusarai, former Union minister and BJP national spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain slammed Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s government for the law and order situation in the state.

On Tuesday night, the BJP leader visited the injured at Sadar Hospital.
Shahnawaz Hussain strongly attacked the Bihar government and said, “I was trying to set up industries in Begusarai but now bullets are being fired like terrorists in Punjab and Kashmir. So many people have been shot and injured. This is a big incident in Bihar. The morale of criminals is increasing in Bihar and people will not forgive those who boost the morale of criminals.”

The BJP leader said these kinds of incidents will defame the image of the state and asked the Bihar government which direction the state has been going.

“What will be the image of Bihar in the country? Nitish Kumar needs to check this situation,” Hussain said.

Jeetu Paswan, one of the injured told ANI that he was selling ice cream at Malhipur Chowk when the assailants came and shot at him. He said another person who was near him was also shot at.

He said a tanker driver who was going to buy tea near Godhna village was also shot by bike-borne assailants.

Meanwhile, Bihar Police on Wednesday suspended seven police officials a day after a person was killed and nine others sustained injuries in separate firing incidents in Begusarai district.

Addressing media persons, Additional Director General of Police (HQ) Jitendra Singh Gangwar said, “Prima facie, our patrolling party was on the streets. Still, they either could not stop the criminals or could not do the checking. In this connection, seven police officials have been suspended with immediate effect.”

Asked about the attackers, ADG Gangwar said CCTV footage captured the assailants and police are verifying their identities. He said some people have been detained and police are questioning them.

“Checking was done all through the night. Neighbouring districts were alerted. A separate investigation team has collected CCTV footage. The criminals can be seen on them. We are verifying. A few people have been detained and they are being questioned,” added the officials.

One person died while nine others sustained injuries in separate firing incidents at different locations on Tuesday in Bihar’s Begusarai, according to a police official.

Superintendent of Police, Yogendra Kumar said that the police are checking the CCTV footage to ascertain the perpetrators.

As per police, two bike-borne assailants are behind the firing incidents in which several people are reported to be injured.

“Two persons with bullet injuries have been brought to the hospital,” said the doctor in the Government hospital in Teghra. Further investigation into the matter is underway. (ANI)


Will Be Successful If All Oppstn Parties Unite: Tejashwi

After Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s meeting with Opposition leaders, his deputy and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav on Friday said that if all the Opposition parties unite then they will be successful in defeating the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the 2024 general elections.

“It is a good thing. It has been clearly said that if all of us are united, we will be successful (in defeating BJP)” Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav told media persons here when asked about CM Nitish Kumar’s recent meetings with Opposition leaders in Delhi.
Pertinent to mention, Nitish Kumar recently was on a visit to Delhi. During his Delhi visit, the Bihar CM met leaders of several parties in the country.

Nitish Kumar met Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday and then met Samajwadi Party leaders Mulayam Singh Yadav and Akhilesh Yadav, Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Sitaram Yechury and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

He also met Indian National Lok Dal leader Om Prakash Chautala. He also met with Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Sharad Yadav in Delhi, who said, “It is necessary that the opposition parties come together. There is no better face (of Opposition) than Nitish Kumar.”

This came days after Nitish Kumar broke the alliance with the BJP in August and formed the government with RJD in Bihar.

Earlier Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao had also visited Bihar and met Nitish Kumar, and RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav as part of efforts towards forging opposition unity.

Meanwhile, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at the Trinamool Congress (TMC) meeting on Thursday announced that Nitish Kumar, Hemant Soren, and herself with other leaders will come together for the 2024 general election.

“Politics is not an easy thing to do, I remember working hard and fighting for winning the elections. People who were not present there will not understand how difficult it was”, said Banerjee. (ANI)

Old Days Of Lalu’s Regime Are Back: Sushil Modi

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Rajya Sabha MP Sushil Modi on Friday took a dig at the Nitish Kumar-led Mahagathbandhan government and stated that the “old days of Lalu Yadav’s regime are back” over the recent murders in Patna.

While addressing the media persons in Patna, Bihar, Modi said, “Recently, incidents of murder took place in Patna. It seems like the old days of Lalu Yadav’s regime are back, but he’s (Bihar CM) silent & went to Delhi. After returning, he met Lalu Yadav, the symbol of crime and corruption. They can’t handle law and order.”
Earlier on Wednesday, two youths were shot dead by unidentified persons in Bihar’s capital.

While on August 17, a vegetable vendor’s daughter was shot in the Indrapuri locality of the Sipara area of Beur PS in Patna.

In less than two years’ time, Nitish Kumar flipped his choices and in a surprise move went on to stitch an alliance with RJD and Congress to form a ‘Grand Alliance’ government in Bihar. (ANI)

‘BJP Wants To Eat Up All Regional Parties, Including Allies’

Tanveer Khurshid, a seasoned educator in Bihar, spells out the reasons behind Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s decision to jump the NDA ship

Nitish Kumar is the biggest politician in this country, bigger than Narendra Modi. This sounds exaggerated or seems like a diehard fan talking. Far from it. I am no fan of Mr. Kumar. I am making this statement based on facts.

There was this joke about the late politician from a regional party from Bihar: No matter who forms the government, he will become the minister. The same thing can be said about Mr. Kumar. No matter who has the majority seats, Nitish ji will remain the chief minister of Bihar. He has been there since 2005 – 17 long years.

It’s not that his party is garnering so many seats that nobody has been able to outstrip him. Since 2015, his party has been continuously going downhill. In 2015 assembly elections, his party was on second rung with 71 seats, preceded by RJD with 80 seats. Fast forward five years, in 2020, JDU tally slipped to 45.

Despite failing to get the mandate of the people, Nitish ji is still the chief minister of Bihar. There’s no other leader in the country who can pull out a similar feat. Nobody knows what card he has up in his sleeve.

Nevertheless, his image is completely tarnished in the eyes of people. Everybody knows now that he has no principles. To save his chair, he can easily switch sides. His ideology flip-flops are based on his personal agenda. If yesterday, he called himself the biggest secular leader, today he might do an alliance with the BJP. Tomorrow, he can shake hands with the RJD or other secular parties. This is the problem. It’s become very difficult to trust him as a leader.

ALSO READ: ‘Nitish Has Played His Last Card, JDU Will Soon Collapse’

I am not sure as a voter whether I would vote for him even though he is in alliance with the party which I support. Now that his party has broken the alliance with the BJP, there will be some repercussions for this misadventure. The top leadership of the BJP will not let it go so easily. We all know that the ED, the CBI and other central bodies are going to land up in Bihar soon. There will be raids on different leaders of the JD(U) and the RJD alike. I think Nitish Kumar must have prepared himself and his party leaders for this, which is going to happen sooner or later.

In all this the JD(U) has suffered a major setback. There’s a dearth of leadership in the party. There’s no leader who can lead the party after him. After the death of Ram Vilas Paswan, his party completely disintegrated. It couldn’t win even a single seat in the assembly election. If this happens to the JD(U), it will be very bad for the state.

The BJP wants to devour all the regional parties which, people say, was the reason for the break-up between the JD(U) and the BJP. If this is the case, Nitish Kumar did the right thing. For a healthy democratic set up, it’s very important for regional parties to flourish.

As told to Md Tausif Alam

Patna Paradigm: Why Allies Are Jumping The BJP Ship

The same old, boring Paltu Ram and Aya Ram-Gaya Ram jokes are back, and predictably so, with Nitish Kumar as the chief protagonist in the current public spectacle being played out in Bihar, one of the key states in the Hindi heartland. Along with UP, as is the irony, it shapes the future of the high power stakes at the Centre in Delhi, even while states like Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal, Telengana, Rajasthan, Punjab, even Maharashtra and Delhi, have consistently blocked the roller-coaster ride of the BJP in recent years.

In the shifting quagmire of Indian politics, with the secular society and its jobless economy in dire straits, with ordinary people and the poor struggling to make two ends meet, while the corporate multi-billionaires seem to be flourishing with obscenely unprecedented profits, the paradigm shift in Patna, obviously, stretches beyond the clichéd laws of morality and immorality. Clearly, it is democracy at stake in contemporary India, and, Patna, like Bengal earlier, and Punjab recently, might just show the way. Indeed, will it?

There are transparent pointers of optimism which emerges from this fast-unfolding scenario even as a stunned BJP and its well-oiled party machine with deep pockets, seems, at once, flummoxed and dazed. For one, it proves that even if everything is in your favour, institutions, money, muscle, agencies, much of mainstream media – you might still lose the game; that you just might not get away with over-confidence or arrogance, while the ground is shifting under your feet.

Indeed, despite its Congress-mukt rhetoric, which is often interpreted as ‘opposition-mukt’ discourse – surely, not a good sign in a pluralist democracy – the BJP might be feeling suddenly lonely after a long, long time. Barring the faction led by Eknath Shinde, and with the defeated faction of the AIADMK floundering in the dark, it does not really have any strong political or electoral ally in the entire country! In the North-east, barring Assam, where loyalties are forever shifting as per the power game in Delhi, its role is minimalist in the coalition governments. Even in Jammu and Kashmir, despite the clampdown and the abrogation of Article 170, there seem to be little political gain – it stands virtually alone, even while there is a wave of restlessness stalking its supporters in Jammu.

In Bihar, it used an immature Chirag Paswan to cut into the votes of JD(U) in the last assembly polls, which was resented silently by Nitish Kumar, who was then hanging by a slender thread, with the dominant BJP as his scaffolding. Ask any old supporter of Ram Vilas Paswan in Hajipur/Vaishali, his erstwhile base, and they would unanimously say that Chirag made one mistake after another. He should have simply accepted the offer of Tejeshwi Yadav and made a ‘youth alliance’ — which he did not. Hence, his downfall, partly of his own making, and, as his late father’s supporters openly contend, has been mainly manufactured by the machinations of the BJP.

Meanwhile, apart from the other contentious issues like the caste census, upping the ante on Kashmir, poking into the fragile and effective alliance of the backwards and minorities which Nitish Kumar had stitched up with meticulous social engineering, among other issues, the BJP seemed to be playing the Eknath Shinde card in Patna as well, using a particular JD(U) leader. This is part of a pattern, and is reflective of all dominant parties which become kind of blind, dazzled by the sheer luminance of their power and their formidable electoral machinery. Even Congress or the CPM did not shy away from displaying such brazen violations of democracy during their heydays in Delhi and Kolkata. Now, they know so well, how ephemeral it all can be!

That is why, Tejeshwi Yadav is on the dot when he says: “You see the BJP’s old allies now, from Punjab to Maharashtra to Bihar. They tried to finish their allies at all these places. Now the BJP has no allies in the entire Hindi heartland. The BJP had been trying to subsume the JD(U) too. But, we are socialists. Nitish Kumar is our ancestor, and we alone should hold on to his legacy,” the RJD leader.

As for the question of Nitish Kumar being ‘socialist’, or following the ethical principles of socialism in his daily life or in his political conduct, as a follower of JP, Acharya Narendra Dev and Ram Manohar Lohia, the verdict is out there in the open — in his slippery and opportunist past. For instance, in February 2002, during the tragic Godhra incident when Coach S-6 of the Sabarmati Express was set on fire by unknown miscreants, he happened to be the Union Railway Minister in the Atal Behari Vajpayee government in Delhi. Either way, he did not move an inch.

Even while this gruesome incident and the death of passengers in the train was openly used in the organized genocide which followed in Ahmedabad and other parts of Gujarat, leading to mass murders, gang-rapes, burning and hacking of innocent people, especially and mostly Muslims, with the state government looking the other way, he chose to be largely mum.

And, most crucially, even as Laloo Yadav, like the Congress or the Left, never aligned with the BJP or RSS-backed organizations, he has had no such ideological qualms of the conscience. Like another alleged ‘socialist’, Ram Vilas Paswan, who also had the uncanny knack of sensing which way the wind was blowing, and, thereby, was almost always sitting cosy in cushy power positions in Delhi under various regimes, from that led by VP Singh to UPA and NDA, etc — ideology can go get damned.

After the dynamic shift in Bihar, whereby 60 per cent of the electoral arithmetic now seems to be pitched against the BJP, there is another new theory being built up by Nitish-loyalists yet again – that he is a potential PM candidate in 2024 leading a mythical opposition alliance. It is also being widely assumed that the current, restless coalition stitched up in Maharashtra by the BJP might eventually fall like a pack of cards, even as the original Shiv Sena, led by Uddhav Thackeray, and the NCP-Congress-Sena coalition, will continue to have the high moral ground, while not facing any anti-incumbency factor.

Combine this factor with the fact that the Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh governments led by the BJP have been formed by breaking the Congress, using the same time-tested tactics as in Maharashtra recently, and that in UP it is not all that strong as it seems so, especially with farmers in Western UP vehemently opposed to the BJP, 2024 might not be a dream-come-true for the ruling party.

Besides, the ED raids seemed to have galvanized a slumbering Congress party, still struggling to find the wood from the trees. Its recent, rather aggressive agitation in Delhi, facing lathis and jail, with Priyanka Gandhi breaking the barricades and being  pinned down forcibly by women cops, and its proposed Bharat Jodo campaign starting from Kanyakumari across the nation in commemoration of the Quit India movement against the British empire, seems to have inspired the party cadre.

The simmering unrest, angst and anger over back-breaking price rise, GST, Agnipath and mass unemployment, is a bitter reality which no PR-campaign or communal polarization can eliminate. Given the circumstances, with Mandal politics finding its roots yet again in Bihar as a winning coalition against Hindutva, the opposition has reasons to be upbeat.

The only catch, however, with Nitish is, that no one knows when he will sink the boat he is sailing, and jump on to another!As a chief minister he has done it umpteen times, comfortably aligning with Rightwing and communal forces. And, if he is indeed chosen as a PM candidate — highly unlikely as of now — who knows what brand of ‘socialism’ he would follow while at the helm?

Millions of Livelihoods at Stake Amid Covid-19

‘CAA, Riots, Love Jihad… Where Will The Hounding Stop?’

Farheen Zaidi, 22, a student of Fine Arts in Delhi, says with millions of livelihoods at stake amid Covid-19, our leaders should redefine their priorities, and not constantly target one community

Where do I even begin? I don’t understand what is going on in our country for the past few years. First, the stalemate over Citizenship Amendment Act- and NRC, then the communal violence in Northeast Delhi and now a law against so called ‘love jihad’, which I do not even think, exists…

Where will this concerted and coordinated effort to target Muslims stop? Till a few years ago, the Hindu-Muslim rivalry was a one-off thing and people used to take extreme steps in the heat of the moment. But now it’s like this rivalry recurring periodically. There’s a constant undercurrent of hatred running in India these days.

Even the November 11 High Court order that UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath Ji had cited to justify ‘love jihad’ law earlier, has now been overturned. The HC now says that it was ‘bad law’ and two consenting adults have the freedom to choose the way they want to conduct their lives. Love is a matter of the heart, how can it be governed by law?

I wonder if the people who talk about ‘love jihad’ even understand the meaning of love. It takes so much for people to be able to find another person who understands them well and how can they be judged by people who don’t even know them? If conversion has been done forcibly, be they of any religion, then the government can step in, but one can’t assume that people will behave a certain way and take pre-emptive measures.

ALSO READ: ‘Love Jihad Law Kills Beti Bachao Spirit’

Shouldn’t the government be worrying about and working upon handling the pandemic, or soon there will be no people left to fall in love with each other or marry. So many people have lost their jobs and livelihood because of the pandemic, and I feel the government should really give its priorities a rethink.

Farheen believes addressing loss of livelihoods amid Covid-19 must be a priority for leaders

This is not the time for people to feel hatred for each other. We all need each other to see ourselves through the coronavirus crisis. Our faiths should help us become better people and help each other and we need to fight coronavirus together. I sometimes feel sad about how we have changed as a country. When I was in school a few years ago, we had many friends from other faiths, but now just a few years later when I am still in college, our social circle has shrunk considerably. There is this whole ‘Hindu-Muslim’ talk going on always.

Sometimes I feel if the matter of ‘love jihad’ is so serious why doesn’t Modiji talk about it in his ‘Man Ki Baat’? He could give us examples when cases of people marrying someone just for the sake of converting them has come to light and talk about those cases from all angles. That could be the beginning of a serious dialogue on the topic, but in my life I have personally seen no such incident and feel it is a just a bogeyman of an issue.

ALSO READ: ‘Love And Jihad Don’t Go Hand In Hand’

And if the law is brought in, the poor of the poorest will suffer; the rich will take to legal recourse. I hope better sense prevails and more thought is given to social harmony. When people are secure in their own faiths and identities they don’t even try to convert people to their ideas, forget changing their religion.

Whatever decision Yogi Ji and his counterpart in Bihar, Nitish Kumar Ji take in this matter will have far reaching implications for the rest of the country. I am waiting to see what Nitish Ji has to say in this matter as the Chief Minister of a state where there is a large Muslim population.

Political Milking Of Sushant’s Death

It is a month since Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput died by suicide but there is no let-up in the controversial and often unsubstantiated revelations which are continuously being aired by television networks on his untimely demise, particularly since the case acquired political overtones.

From an initial discussion on mental health of actors to nepotism in the Hindi film industry and discrimination against outsiders, 34-year-old Rajput’s death has degenerated into an all-out war between the Maharashtra and Bihar governments which are currently led by opposing political coalitions.

It is no coincidence that the Bihar government, led by National Democratic Alliance partners, Janata Dal (U) and the Bharatiya Janata Party, has upped the ante on this case as the state assembly elections are due in a few months. Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar’s popularity ratings have dipped in recent weeks as the state machinery is unable to cope with the rising cases of coronavirus.

Fighting with his back to the wall, the Rajput case has proved to be a handy diversion for Nitish Kumar who has successfully deflected public attention by decrying the Maharashtra government’s tardy investigation into the death of Bihar’s son Rajput. It helps that the Maharashtra government is headed by his coalition partner BJP’s bete noire Shiv Sena.

It suits the Janata Dal (U) and the BJP to build pressure on the Maharashtra government by keeping up the narrative on Rajput’s “mysterious death”. In Bihar, the two parties have an eye on the Rajput vote, a small but influential community which has been demanding justice for the actor.

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It is not just the JD(U) and the BJP which are eyeing the Rajput vote but opposition parties, including the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress, have also joined the race. The two parties joined the chorus for a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation when the issue figured in the state assembly when it met recently for a day to discuss the COVID-19 situation in the state.

BJP legislator Neeraj Kumar Singh, the actor’s cousin, raised the demand first, drawing instant support from across the political spectrum. Leader of opposition Tejashwi Yadav of the RJD went a step further and proposed that the upcoming film city at Rajgir be named after Rajput while Congress leader Sadanand Singh suggested that the assembly adopt a resolution demanding an inquiry by the Central agency.

If tempers are running high in Bihar, it is no different in Maharashtra. Always on the lookout for issues on which it can discredit the Uddhav Thackeray government, the BJP feels the Rajput case is a potent weapon to mount an effective attack against the chief minister and his son Aditya Thackeray. Former Maharashtra chief minister Narayan Rane and his son Nilesh have been particularly vocal and even suggested that Rajput was murdered. They have demanded that Aditya Thackeray should step down as minister to facilitate a fair probe since his name has figured during the course of a hearing in the Supreme Court.

Finding himself under constant attack, Aditya Thackeray broke his silence to deny his involvement in the case while his Shiv Sena colleagues are putting up a stout defence in his favour. Senior party leader Sanjay Raut, who has been at the forefront in hitting out at the BJP, described its allegations as a “political conspiracy”, aimed at maligning the government because the opposition did not succeed in toppling it.

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Though the controversy regarding Rajput’s death had been simmering since he was found hanging in his Bandra apartment on July 14, it picked up pace after the Bihar police registered a case against the actor’s girlfriend Rhea Chakraborty and others on July 25 following a complaint filed by the dead artist’s father KK Singh. The charges ranged from cheating, abetment to suicide and wrongful confinement.

On cue, the Bihar government dispatched a team of police officers to Mumbai to investigate the case. Furious at this interference, the Maharashtra government retaliated by placing Vinay Tiwari, the leader of the Bihar police squad, under quarantine by citing existing guidelines for containing coronavirus. 

At the same time, the Maharashtra police made it clear that the Bihar police has no jurisdiction to investigate the matter in their state as the incident took place in Mumbai. Moreover, it said, it was already in the process of investigating Rajput’s death. The Bihar police charged that the Maharashtra police was deliberately going slow in this matter as it was protecting an important person (read chief minister Uddhav Thackeray’s son and minister Aditya Thackeray) whose name is said to have surfaced during the investigations.

This opened the floodgates further as charges and counter-charges have been flying thick and fast. Faced with an obdurate Maharashtra government and under all-round pressure from political parties in Bihar, an angry Nitish Kumar proposed that the case be handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation. It was not surprising that the request was accepted with alacrity by the BJP-led ruling alliance at the Centre. Normally a demand for a CBI probe is made by the state government where the crime has occurred. In this instance, rules were conveniently bypassed by the Centre which acceded to the Bihar government’s demand even though the incident took place in another state.

Meanwhile, the case gets murkier by the day. Besides the CBI, the Enforcement Directorate has been summoning the actor’s girlfriend and other associates for questioning. Rajput’s father has accused Chakravorty of siphoning off Rs. 15 crore from his son’s bank account, of overdosing him with drugs and creating a wedge between the actor and his family.

Needless to say, the media has had a field day reporting and “investigating” this case. It has essentially declared that Chakravorty is guilty. Breathless and excited reporters on television news channels have, with leaks from helpful sources, accessed details of Rajput’s holidays with his girlfriend and provided “breaking news” about the actor’s finances and mental health in back-to-back coverage. Chakravorty is predictably the villain of the piece.

With Bihar elections a few months away, it can be safely said that interested political parties will continue to work doubly hard to ensure that the Rajput case remains centrestage.

Is Hindutva Hanging By A Thread In Bengal?

Hindutva is no longer the rabble rouser vote bank as it was in the last national election. When the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party won an emphatic victory in the recent Delhi assembly election, opposition leaders were quick to point that the Bharatiya Janata Party will have to recalibrate its strategy of polarisation now that it had been roundly rejected by the electorate of yet another state.

However, it would be extremely difficult for the saffron party to abandon its majoritarian agenda in the forthcoming state elections. For the BJP, hardline Hindutva, strident nationalism and communal talk is an article of faith.

Hindutva seems to have worked for BJP in the last election. It probably sees the current run of defeats as aberrations. Besides the Hindutva strategy helps divert attention from bread and butter issues at a time when the economy is tottering. An election is the occasion for the BJP to propagate its ideology.

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In fact, the BJP’s high-decibel poll campaign in Delhi with its focus on the Shaheen Bagh protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act was meant not just to consolidate the Hindu vote in the Capital but also to send out a message across the country that this agitation is led by minorities and that the amended citizenship law actually enjoys popular support.

Among the opposition leaders, West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee appears most vulnerable in this regard. Determined to add West Bengal to its kitty, the BJP has opted for a brazenly communal narrative to dethrone Banerjee. Having met with remarkable success in the last Lok Sabha election when it surprised everyone by winning 18 seats and increased its vote share to 40 percent, the BJP has every reason to persist with this strategy. It remains undeterred by the fact that its attempts to focus on Article 370 and triple talaq did not cut much ice with the voters in Haryana, Jharkhand and Maharashtra.

It will not be surprising if the BJP’s polarising and divisive rhetoric gets more shrill as it begins preparations for next year’s assembly election in a state which has a 27 percent Muslim population.

The very fact that the BJP has re-elected Dilip Ghosh as president of the party’s West Bengal unit, is a clear message that the saffron party has no intention of going back on its communal agenda. Known for using vitriolic language, Ghosh is constantly stoking controversies with his inciting statements. Ghosh was in the eye of a storm recently when he described the anti-CAA protesters as “illiterate and uneducated” who are being fed biryani and “paid with foreign funds” to continue with their agitation. He constantly refers to the issue of infiltration in his speeches and has, on several occasions, thundered that all Bangladeshi Muslims in the state will be identified and chased out of India!

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Not only has the BJP campaign reopened the old wounds inflicted in the communal riots during the state’s partition of 1905, it has also been helped by the fact that Mamata Banerjee is seen to be appeasing the minorities. The Trinamool Congress chief who is personally leading the prolonged protests against the amended citizenship law as well as the National Register of Citizens and the National Population Register, has given the BJP enough fodder to push ahead with its communal agenda.

Undoubtedly the Delhi defeat came as a rude shock for the BJP but, at the same time, its leaders believe the party increased its tally from three to eight seats and improved its vote share from 32 to 38 percent because it made the anti-CAA protests as the centre piece of its campaign.

It’s still too early to say if the BJP’s strategy will succeed but, at present, Mamata Banerjee has the first mover advantage over her political rival. While the saffron party lacks a strong party organisation in West Bengal and has no credible chief ministerial candidate, the Trinamool Congress chief is already in election mode.

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Like Kejriwal, she has stopped taking personal potshots at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and is instead emphasising her governance record. She has also taken the lead in articulating the dangers of the amended citizenship law, the NPR and NRC. Mamata Banerjee is taking no chances as she realizes she can ill-afford to underestimate the BJP as she had done in the 2019 Lok Sabha election.

But before it goes for broke in West Bengal, the BJP will test the waters in Bihar which is headed for polls later this year. Not only does the state have a 17 percent Muslim population, the opposition (the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress) has staunchly opposed the CAA, reason enough for the saffron party to polarise the electorate on religious lines.

Besides, the BJP is banking on its alliance partner, Bihar chief minister and Janata Dal (U) president Nitish Kumar to act as a buffer against its strident campaign. Though Nitish Kumar has endorsed the CAA, he has not framed his support for the law on communal lines. Moreover, the Bihar chief minister measures his words carefully and is not known to use extreme language. This, the BJP feels, should help the alliance offset any possible adverse repercussions of the saffron party’s high-pitched tirade against those opposing the CAA.

However, if Mamata Benarjee can repeat AAP’s massive success in Bengal, voices in Bengal may start questioning Hindutva. Hindutva may be hanging by a thread.