Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Bihar Legislative Assembly Elections 2015

The legislative assembly of Bihar is scheduled to expire in November 2015. The state witnessed a big political crisis right since the start of the year as the former chief minister Nitish Kumar asked the ruling CM Jitan Ram Manjhi to step down but the latter refused and was subsequently expelled from the primary membership of JD-U. Though, Manjhi quit days later, hours before he was to go through a confidence motion in the assembly.

The elections to the legislative assembly will be held in the 243 assembly constituencies of Bihar before 29 November 2015. In the previous elections held in 2010, the JD-U won 115 seats out of 147 seats it had contested. The BJP bagged 91 seats out of 102 contested. If the results of 2014 General Elections in Bihar are an indication to follow, then the BJP can be termed as the favourite to win. In the general elections, BJP won in 22 of the 40 parliamentary constituencies, while the LJP and RJD settled for 6 and 4 seats respectively.

In 2015 the BJP’s Bihar unit has to not just expose the nefarious designs of both the JDU and RJD but also demonstrate that it can win the confidence of all sections of Bihar. Delhi poll results also got a great impact on the 2015 Bihar assembly election results and by congratulating Aam Admi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal for the staggering victory, JD(U) said the people of Delhi “have rejected Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP” and the results will have “far reaching effect” on the entire country, including Bihar. However, the recent State Legislative council election results in Bihar (touted by many as semi final) has upset the Nitish-Lalu-Congress agenda. In fact the BJP lead team could manage to win 14 out of 24 seats and thus gave a big blow to ‘Janta Parivar’. In fact a detailed study of the legislative council results reveal that Lalu yadav lead RJD is in upsurge and the biggest looser is Nitish Kumar.

BJP leaders are trying to take advantage of the infighting within the ruling JDU. BJP leaders feel that if CM Nitish Kumar maintains his autocratic approach, then the merger of RJD and JDU will be deferred. A senior leader feels that there is a positive effect of Jharkhand elections on Bihar. In Jharkhand, a non-tribal CM has taken command and it has been received positively in Bihar. Apart from this, they feel that the Narendra Modi wave still persists and hence this is the ideal time for elections.

Many leaders have the feeling that the elections will be fought on caste-based equations. The BJP is also trying to set its equation right. Equation of OBC-Muslims and Mahadalits will be the main strength of JDU-RJD. That is the reason why BJP leaders want to stop the merger of JDU and RJD, and an early election. So, the BJP is supporting Manjhi, and Sushil Modi has said that the party is ready to back him completely. There is likelihood of BJP + Manjhi + LJP + Kushwaha. In addition the BJP has created a big hole in the Yadav bastion of Lalu Yadav by siding with Pappu Yadav and the entire Kosi belt will have an impact positively in favour of BJP at the cost of Nitish-Lalu combine.

For the last few months, leaders of BJP have been setting various targets. In the Lok Sabha Elections, Modi had fixed a target of 272+ and achieved it. After that, the party started setting targets for every State. For Bihar, the mission is 185+ seats. Though the BJP could not achieve its target in Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Jammu and Kashmir, the enthusiasm of party workers and leaders has not gone down.

Now, one of the bigwigs of the party has set a target for 2019. Forest and Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar says by 2019, 19 States will have BJP CMs. This is a point to worry for the Congress and other regional parties. In 1997-98, the Congress was in power in very few States. The party was ruling in only two big States, Madhya Pradesh and Kerala. But then big States like Bihar, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh were being ruled by regional parties. At present, there are seven CMs of the BJP, and in two States, CMs are from its alliance partners. However, some of the leaders think 19 BJP CMs is a tall order.

Established Political Parties will have to spend extra time dealing with sabotage and infighting. Infighting is at its peak in all the political parties be it Congress, BJP, RJD, JDU or AAP.

After the results of Lok Sabha and Assembly Elections in four States, Rahul Gandhi has kept his experiments aside. That is why in Delhi there was no primary for ticket distribution. But it is being speculated that Rahul is back on that track and wants his formulae to be implemented to strengthen the organisation. Sources say he might hold elections for some posts of the organisation. Rahul might also hold elections to fill 12 posts of CWC, the apex policy-making body of the Congress.

According to the party Constitution, elections must be held to choose 12 members of CWC, and almost the same number of members should be nominated. But no such elections have been held during Sonia Gandhi’s regime, and all members have been nominated. During Sonia’s regime, even the number of special invited and permanent invited members increased. However, Rahul wants CWC members to be elected. Though some leaders say this can be challenging for his leadership, sources are of the view that there will always be apprehensions about Rahul’s leadership, and the elected leaders can also pose challenges for him.

With elections just a few months away, the political scenario appears to be in a fluid state. Perhaps this election may be fought purely on the alignment of political forces as none of the political icons is in a position to create a fresh wave in his favour; rather, some of them may be fighting for their political survival. What is certain is that it will be the voters who will have a tough time choosing their candidate and party.

This above was written many months back.

With Election round the corner and with 3rd Front and Owaisi in the field the things may get little difficult for Grand Alliance of Nitish-Lalu-Sonia. The Third front of Pappu Yadav-Mulayam Singh Yadav-Sharad Pawar (Tariq Anwar) etc has potential to damage Nitish Kumar lead alliance in Kosi belt and on the other hand Owaisi will effect the grand alliance in Border areas or what is called Simanchal. However, it is not going to be easy for NDA, though they have an edge over Grad Alliance of Nitish as on date. However, with Lalu yadav raking his pet subject of Caste based Reservation, the things may turn overnight.    

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

RESERVATION: Win -Win Situation

Reservation is in news, I should say again and as most of the times, not for positive reasons. A very touchy issue to say the least. The issue has a potential and it has created emotional turmoil over the years. Why reservation? What for reservation? Why somebody gets reservation? Why somebody is denied reservation? What is the problem? What is the solution? What to do? How to go ahead? A lot of issues co-related with each other that need to be tackled. Before analysing with the likely solution to the problem, let us try to understand the genesis of the reservation system in India.
The reservation system in India is an outcome of the thought of the founding fathers of the Constitution of India whereby they thought of providing reservation to economically and socially backward set of people. Thus, in India this identification of backward set of people was made, rather corelated, with the caste system, as traditional people allegedly Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribe had been the backward set of people economically and socially and that is why reservation was provided to Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribe. It is important to note that class and caste was thought to be co-terminus and accordingly the founding fathers of the Constitution of Modern India decided and accordingly, the traditionally backward set of people were identified as belonging to a particular caste and thus a class in themselces. It seems that this is where the solution started and this is where the problem began. The idea of identifying class and caste over the years has created problem and disharmony in the other caste people especially since in India the caste system is well drenched in the society since centuries altogether. This initial reservation was provided only to Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribe people and it was made on experimental basis only for a period of 10 years. However, once the system got into place, nobody thought of doing away with it and with the appointment of Mandal Commission by Congress Government and implementation of its Report by V.P.Singh Government included within its wings the other backward cast people under the set up of reservation whereby people were being identified on the basis of their caste and included in the category of Other Backward Class and were provided reservation.
We all know what is reservation system. In simple term, it is a system whereby a particular set of people are given reservation in various places like from educational to employment to promotion and in which the said category of people get benefit compared to other category people or other caste people. The issue of Mandal Commission and the implementation of Mandal Commision divided India practically into two horizons, i.e. those in support of Mandal Committee and those against the Mandal Committee. However, finally the issue was decided when the Hon’ble Apex Court provided a guideline whereby it held that reservation cannot go beyond 50% of the total number of seats. But in reality the issue was never over and it created a set of people who based their thought and ideology on dislike for another group of people. Alas the syestem was only adding fuel to fire. Instead of doing away with caste system, it was only adding strength to it. The society was getting further fragmented.

It is seen for the last many years that people from various castes are trying to creep in through particular caste in the category of OBC. This is more relevant because OBC, as a term or as a society, is not well recognized in Indian Hindu system where the Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribe were more clearly defined. Thus, we find that people belonging to various castes try to get into the category of OBC so that they can reap the benefit of reservation. This episode of Patel demanding inclusion of their community in the OBC category which shook the entire Gujarat and moved the attention of entire India to the issue of reservation needs to be seen from that perspective.
Thus, what is the solution to this? It is seen that issue of reservation has created a scenario whereby people those who are really in need and deserving are not given the benefit. It is also seen that with the inclusion of dominant caste in the OBC category, the really needy does not get the benefit. Traditionally Patels had been affluent and dominant caste in Gujarat. However, the same Patels had not been dominant in Bihar and in Bihar they are treated as OBC. Thus, it is important that we streamline this issue of reservation and ultimately put an end to the system in the manner of win-win situation to one and all.

What is required is that the benefit of reservation should go only to deserving people and when I say deserving people, they are those who are socially and economically at the bottom level. Now acting from this perspective, there are two aspects which we need to streamline. 1st is the need to identify People within the OBC, SC and ST category who are not economically and socially at the bottom of pyramid and therefore, it is necessary that such people should not get the benefit of reservation because such people get the benefit at the cost of really deserving SC and ST and OBC set of people. I also take this opportunity to put on record the way Creamy Layer has been implemented. Creamy Layer has not been implemented properly and further Creamy Layer is applicable only to OBC and not to Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribe. 2nd it is important to uplift economically backward set of people who may not belong to obc or sc or st. This also brings the question of economically backward people belonging to other castes and religions. Further all Indians are not Hindus. Nearly 20% of the population is Non-Hindus and this cannot be ignored.
Thus, the solutions to entire reservation problem and which I see are as follows:-
1. Let the reservation be there for next 25 years and gradually do away with the system of reservation In the next 20 to 25 years and accordingly, it is necessary we keep planning for the same from today.
2. Reservation should be denied to anybody whose family member had ever been benefitted by any reservation and those in Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribe and/or OBC person if his/her family was benefitted by reservation once in any category, then the same family is not eligible for benefit arising out of reservation.
3. Concept of Creamy Layer needs to be implemented thoroughly and properly and it should include within its wings people from Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribe and also OBC.
4. All the members of Parliament, Legislative Assembly, Legislative Council, Local Corporators, Bureaucrats (All India Services or State Services), Professionals like Doctors, Lawyers, Chartered Accountants, all such people who in spite of being OBC, Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribe are or have been in any of what is stated above, then they and their family should be barred from getting facility of reservation.
5. There should be a reservation of 5% for other category people if they fit in the category of Non-Creamy Layer as applicable to OBC which is purely based on economic standing of the person.
If the above measures are taken in proper perspective, the rightful and needy set of people will be benefitted out of it and the non-deserving people will be wiped out and finally with the passage of time, reservation will become redundant and then in that scenario, there will be no need for any reservation in India. I think that this is a long procedure which we all should try rather than fighting for including particular caste in the category so as to reap the benefits. It is worth trying. Identification based on caste will gradually go away because of modern identify which will be beyond caste and which can go a long way in making every Indian an Indian rather than belonging to caste, creed or religion.