Yesterday was an ironic day. The Left alliance won the JNU Students' Union (JNUSU) elections and RJD leader Shahabuddin — the killer of a former JNUSU president and All India Students' Association (AISA) leader, Chandu — was released on bail in Bihar.
Chandrashekhar Prasad or Chandu was one of the tallest leaders of the AISA who established the CPI (ML) student cadre. He was assassinated in broad daylight by Shahabuddin’s goons on March 31, 1997. After pursuing higher studies from JNU, Chandu chose to go back to Siwan in Bihar, his birthplace, to serve as a party full timer. The young leader was shot in cold blood by Shahabuddin's goons while addressing a meeting in his hometown.
|Maybe AISA chose to douse Chandu’s legacy in the political acid of opportunism. Photo credit: PTI|
While celebratory messages erupted on social media over the victory of the purported Left alliance in JNU, Shahabuddin’s release made a serious dent in their success. Chandu had single-handedly given the AISA the contours and influence it has today. In DU, during my student days, I grew up listening to the AISA friends speak about the brave deeds and indomitable spirit of Chandu.
It is ironic that the comrades conveniently forgot about Chandu yesterday. Or maybe they chose to douse Chandu’s legacy in the political acid of opportunism, much like Shahabuddin’s notorious acid attacks and murders of the sons of Siwan businessman, Chandrakeshwar. Perhaps, as Chandu’s mother, Kaushlya says, they forgot Chandu because he is irrelevant today in an ideology-bereft, alliance-centric political coalition and cabal.
Shahabuddin’s release was marked by his calling Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar a "politician of circumstances". It is telling and prophetic for an RJD goon, just released from prison, to talk such about a chief minister, whose good-governance principle was the driving force behind Shahabuddin’s arrest. Do we read something behind this proclamation in a context where Lalu chooses to call Shahabuddin his "younger brother" and Shahabuddin chooses to call Lalu his"master"?
It must be remembered that despite the-high pitched campaign battle in Bihar for Mr. Nitish Kumar, JDU managed to get a mere 71 and RJD 80 out of the 101 seats each they contested. In the current Assembly, a speculative RJD-INC alliance alone makes up for neat 107 seats.
This is a mere 15 seats short of forming an alliance to rule. Political wisdom and electoral calculations must alarm Nitish Kumar before a situation prevails where some independents are bought, some regional party support sought and merged, as Bihar slips away from his hands.
On the one hand, Kanhaiya Kumar touches the feet of leaders like Lalu Yadav and on the other, the Left celebrates the victorious day when Shahabuddin walks free. It is prophetic because "circumstances" in politics have made strange bedfellows in the past and fidelity changes with the heat of the opportune moment.
Nitish Kumar was primarily chosen for his image – a clean, sober, calm and controlled politician whose words had weight. Unlike the new political dispensation that rode on people’s hopes only to crush them, Nitish Kumar’s ascendency to power has been marked by the full-throttled support of the other 50 per cent of Bihar – its women - irrespective of which party its patriarchs voted for.
This is a vote bank that Nitish Kumar will lose with murderers and hardened criminals like Shahabuddin walking free. One wonders, in these times, what is left of the Left?