Yogendra Yadav: Bihar coup that changed India’s political landscape

The history of India is essentially a history of Bihar”, announced ‘comrade’ Daleep Singh, my Gandhian-Socialist colleague, as soon as he heard about Nitish Kumar’s decision to dump Bharatiya Janata Party and join hands with Rashtriya Janata Dal to form a new government. Enjoying his kite flying, he continued: “Ever since the days of Buddha, every major upheaval in this country has started in Bihar. Today, Nitish has begun an upheaval that would result in the end of the Modi government.” I did not wish to quarrel with him. Hope is a scarce commodity in the secular camp these days. Besides, the gadfly that he is, comrade sahib does not expect you to believe in his grand theorisation. He wants to provoke you into thinking. He had succeeded.

Indeed, the political coup in Bihar has changed the national political landscape. Just when 2024 was perceived and presented as a “done deal”, just when the Opposition’s shoulders were drooping after the presidential and vice-presidential elections, Bihar has thrown the game wide open. Just as it showed the way in the 1970s with the Bihar movement, setting the stage for a new phase in India’s history culminating in the electoral revolution of 1977; just as Bihar inaugurated and led the Mandal era in Indian politics in the 1990s; Bihar appears to be showing the way once again. The slogan of the Bihar movement, “Andhakar me ek prakash—Jayaprakash, Jayaprakash”, now carries a new meaning with Bihar emerging as the silver lining in the dark clouds that engulf the Republic of India on the eve of its diamond jubilee..