Tough times ahead for India, thanks to Nitish, Lalu and Modi
The mahagatbandhan has achieved a huge mandate. However, that doesn't necessarily mean it will ensure stability.
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi has suffered his biggest setback in the last two years. From 2012-'14 nothing could go wrong for him. He won his third Gujarat election. He was declared prime ministerial candidate. He won the 2013 Assembly elections in style.
Subsequently, the 2014 general election was a virtual landslide. This was followed by the icing on the cake in the form of Assembly election victories last year. At that stage Modi seemed invincible and it looked as if he would sail through any storm.
The tide turned in 2015. First, Modi got severe bad press over the church attacks and then Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) absolutely thrashed the BJP 67-3 in the Delhi Assembly elections. This proved to be a huge shot in the arm for all of Modi's opponents.
#LalitGate targeted Modi for weeks and then Congress president Sonia Gandhi derailed proceedings in Parliament. And while the Land Bill was scuttled, Modi could still find ways of getting around it.
The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill was a body blow and it now looks doubtful whether the BJP will be able to pass any Bill which requires two-thirds majority in the Rajya Sabha. Sonia, Nitish and the Left control 37 per cent of Rajya Sabha. This won't change with the Bihar results.
What followed was the entire #AwardWapsi campaign which occupied millions of TV bytes. Now the #AwardWapsiGang will claim a huge moral victory.
Every move of Modi will be questioned even more intensely. The Lutyens' club, mainstream media and civil society generally hate him and they will put every move under scrutiny - statements by hardline right-wing leaders, Modi's schemes, his refusal to hold press conferences and give regular interviews and so on.
All in all, Modi is in an extremely uncomfortable position. For the first time opposition unity has trumped the Modi wave. Now all anti-BJP parties will rally together and they will get together to scuttle key Bills and fight elections.
Parliament sessions will be stormy and forget a two-third majority, the BJP may even struggle to pass Bills which require a simple 50 per cent majority in the Rajya Sabha. Opposition parties found a glimmer of hope in the Delhi elections and they will put their foot in the door and prise it open following the Bihar election results.
In 1990, Lalu Prasad stopped LK Advani's rath yatra in its tracks. This time he has done the same to Modi's development yatra.
It is not just stormy Parliament sessions. Expect more campaigns like #AwardWapsi and more street agitations if and when things go wrong. It is not just Modi. Even India will be in for some turbulent times.
The Opposition will unite now itself with an eye to 2019.
Meanwhile, Bihar may have seen a clear mandate, but things will be far from smooth. Both Nitish and Lalu are eyeing the chief minister's chair. Nitish on one side and, Lalu and Sonia Gandhi on the other are both evenly matched.
If the Supreme Court clears Lalu, he may make a pitch for the chief minister's post. Even otherwise, he will push his daughter Misa Bharti for the same and settle for nothing less than the post of deputy chief minister.
The mahagatbandhan really had nothing in common and the leaders of the grand alliance came together only to counter Modi. Having done that, their internal contradictions will come to the fore. One can only guess how the Nitish-Misa team will play out.
Lalu wrecked the state in his 15 years of misrule. Nitish was brilliant in his first term but let things drift in his second term in a bid to counter Modi. A recovering Bihar received a huge setback.
One seriously doubts if the mahagathbandhan will be able to put development at the forefront. Will Lalu behave this time or will "jungle raj" return? That only time will tell.
Modi has received a crushing defeat.
The mahagatbandhan has achieved a huge mandate to rule Bihar.
However, that doesn't necessarily mean it will ensure any kind of stability.
Modi could stumble. India could falter. Bihar may return to the dark ages.
But that's for the future. Today Nitish, Lalu and Sonia will celebrate a fantastic victory and Team Modi will go in for a huge round of introspection.