By Soroor Ahmed,
A few days before the September 30 verdict of the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court the entire Minority Cell of Lok Janshakti Party, the junior alliance partner of Rashtriya Janata Dal in Bihar, merged with the ruling Janata Dal (United) of chief minister Nitish Kumar. Though Lok Janshakti Party of Ram Vilas Paswan is not as strong as Lalu YadavÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s outfit nor were the Muslim leaders of much reckoning yet it was quite an embarrassment for both the leaders.
That is ancient history now. Five days after September 30 verdict on Ayodhya the Minority Cell president of the ruling Janata Dal (United), Abu Talib Rahmani, almost with all the Muslim leaders, joined the Rashtriya Janata Dal. Sensing that the entire JD(U) Minority Cell will merge with the RJD the Janata Dal (United) state president, Vijay Chaudhary, dissolved the organization. So it was back to square minus one for the ruling party in Bihar as those who joined its Minority Cell recently were left high and dry.
Abu Talib Rahmani, though new to politics, was much promoted by the chief minister Nitish Kumar, who badly needed a Muslim face. Some of the Muslim LJP leaders joined the Janata Dal (United) before September 30 because Izhar Ahmed, the sitting MLA of the party, was denied ticket on the plea that he had neglected his assembly constituency. As Izhar himself quit the LJP and engineered a coup of a sort by taking away the Minority Cell of his party the Janata Dal (United) was quick to give ticket to him.
But the case of Rahmani is rather different. By the time he quit the Janata Dal (United) and with all his supporters joined the RJD the ticket distribution work was almost over. So it was not just lure of ticket which forced the cross over as in the case of the LJP Minority Cell. It was the sudden change of situation at the grass-roots level and pressure from below that these Muslim politicians, who care more for their own political ambition rather than anything else, were forced to switch sides.
The situation has changed to such a level that now the chief minister Nitish Kumar is reluctant to share dais with none else but the former deputy Prime Minister, Lal Krishna Advani and partyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s chief spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad, lawyer of Sri Ram Lalla Virajman in the Ayodhya case. Though Nitish has a very good personal relation with both these leaders, the revival of old Babri Masjid memories is coming in the way of sharing platform with them publicly. The by-product of the verdict is that it opened the old wounds and demolished the media-created moderate image of Advani. So Nitish now wants to maintain distance with him.
Secondly Ravi ShankarÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s address to the media at Lucknow just after the court verdict has embarrassed the Janata Dal (United) no end. That television shot is no less damaging to Janata Dal (United) than the June 12 advertisement showing Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar clasping each otherÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hand.
So while Ravi Shankar was felicitated elsewhere in the country in Bihar the BJP people are not rejoicing over the court verdict because of the pressure from Janata Dal (United). This notwithstanding the fact that Ravi Shankar belongs to Bihar and hails from the family of Sangh Parivar.
As Nitish had one leg each on two boats sailing in opposite direction the crisis was bound to crop up sooner or later. Unfortunately for him this happened just on the eve of the Assembly election, one of the greatest political challenges of his life.
While the Congress too is trying to win over the heart of Muslims the problem with the party is that it has no leader in Bihar. Besides, the verdict also revived the CongressÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ suspicious track record on the issue. So none else but the RJD-LJP alliance is likely to reap the benefit. For all his faults Muslims still trust Lalu Yadav so far secular commitment is concerned. He is a time-tested leader known for his tough stand against the communal forces. Nitish lacks that quality. His silence on Gujarat when he was the railway minister is being discussed openly in the Muslim society now.
True Nitish did try to win some support of Muslims but being a partner of BJP he had repeatedly succumbed to the pressure of the partner. For example he often claims that he had opened some of the old cases of Bhagalpur riots and constituted N N Singh Commission in this regard yet the appointment of K S Dwivedi as the IG (Operation) some months back is being openly discussed in the Muslim society now. This notwithstanding the fact that none of the Muslim leaders or Urdu media dared to raise the issue earlier. Dwivedi was the SP of Bhagalpur during the infamous 1989 riots and was indicted by the Bhagalpur Riots Inquiry Commission way back in 1995. The Report held him Ã¢â‚¬Ëœwholly responsibleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ for that anti-Muslim pogrom.
Though Lalu Yadav too did not take any action against him yet during his and his wifeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s regime Dwivedi was at least denied promotion and dumped in the police hierarchy. Nobody heard of him during the rule of husband and wife.
Political situation often changes when the battle line is drawn and not when the society is in dormant stage. So the election campaign provides an opportunity for many pressure groups to operate in favour or against some political party.
As the Ayodhya verdict came just before the assembly election in Bihar where Lal Krishan Advani was arrested on October 23, 1990 by the order of none else but Lalu Yadav history is bound to haunt. A week after the verdict those Muslims who deserted the RJD, LJP and Congress to join the Janata Dal (United) are suddenly finding themselves in no manÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s land.
A senior doctor who has a house in a Muslim dominated locality of Delhi has an interesting story to tell. He said that a day before the Ayodhya court verdict the son-in-law of one of the leading lights of the Babri Masjid movement rang him up asking him that he wants to shift to his house for a couple of days as he is not feeling very comfortable and secured in that posh-locality of the National Capital Region.
As the said son-in-law of the leading light of the Babri movement is a very good friend of the doctor, who narrated the story to this correspondent, the latter said that you are most welcomed. What is surprising is that his wifeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s elder sister is now contesting assembly election in Bihar from the Janata Dal (United).