Apart from the implications of the Bihar election results for what could happen in the Assembly elections of Assam next year, it may be more significant to look at what the results portend for the future of the BJP in India. While there is no denying that the grand alliance in Bihar of the RJD, the JD(U) and the Congress gave the electors a viable choice in addition to giving them the satisfaction of encouraging so-called secular forces against “commul” political parties, the fact remains that the fantastic electoral success of the grand alliance is largely due also to the poor performance of the BJP at the Centre. We are not convinced that the so-called secular altertive is any more secular in the real sense of the term than the BJP. The two important things that counted were the image of Nitish Kumar as a competent and clean Chief Minister and the failure of the BJP to deliver on its pre-election promises even a year-and-a-half after the last Lok Sabha elections. The pre-election agreement that Nitish Kumar would be the Chief Minister made a world of difference to the complexion of the grand alliance in a State that had high regard for his probity and competence and one that did not wish to have Lalu Prasad Yadav back as Chief Minister under any circumstances. So even though Lalu Yadav’s RJD won 80 seats to JD(U)’s 71, Nitish Kumar will still be the Chief Minister of the State. In striking contrast to Nitish Kumar’s track record, there is the none-too-impressive track record of Prime Minister rendra Modi who has not maged to deliver on his pre-election speeches even a year-and-a-half after he became Prime Minister. Perhaps the most visible aspect of rendra Modi’s rule is that he has spent more time on election campaigning and foreign travel than on getting down to the nitty-gritty of day-to-day administration and the fulfilment of promises made before the Lok Sabha elections of 2014. One of the legitimate questions raised is how the Prime Minister of the country can find the time to address even block level election meetings in Bihar when he ought to have far more important things on his hands as Prime Minister of the country. There are questions raised also about the time and the public money that he has spent on ‘goodwill’ trips abroad when he should have spent much more time in New Delhi attending to the fulfilment of his promises. Most Indians have not taken kindly to the crores of rupees that have been spent on the Prime Minister’s travels in less than two years. There are legitimate questions also about what the Prime Minister has maged to achieve by way of combating corruption. One of these relates to his handling of union ministers and chief ministers of States involved in corrupt practices or questioble deals. There are many in the country who would like to know why Exterl Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was not removed in spite of her questioble action in respect of Lalit Modi or why Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Zubin Irani was allowed to continue in office despite questioble evidence adduced relating to her educatiol qualifications. Any government claiming to be cleaner than the UPA government led by the Congress should have rejected modes of action that are either unethical or undemocratic. For instance, the present NDA government has two important Cabinet ministers who lost in the Lok Sabha elections of 2014. Since they were inducted as Union ministers despite their defeats at the Lok Sabha elections, they should have been made to win bye-elections or been nomited to the Rajya Sabha to regularize their selections as Cabinet ministers. This has not been done even today. How then is the NDA government any better than the UPA government that retained Man Mohan Singh without his getting elected but by having him nomited for years to the Rajya Sabha or Council of States from a State he did not belong to? But above all, the NDA government has failed the people by failing to perform and by failing to realize that mere promises are not enough and that people judge a government by its performance. In terms of performance, the NDA government cannot claim to be any better than the UPA government. This is why BJP is likely to find further rejection by the people wherever it has to contest elections. rendra Modi needs to introspect on the many different ways in which the BJP has been no different from the Congress in terms of performance. He must also begin to ask himself whether the bubble of the rendra Modi magic burst before he had time to show some real performance.
Promises and Performance