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Nitish Kumar's coalition swap is India's very own Game of Thrones

Nitish imposed the ideology we are in the process on embracing completely is sheer opportunism

Monobina Gupta | The Wire 

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. (Photo: PTI)

Contrary to what many have often argued – that we have entered an age of no ideology – there does seem to be a certain dominant ideology at work: an ideology against corruption. In campaigns against purported instances of corruption, the state is leveraging all its powerful agencies to bring political adversaries to their knees. Such seemingly militarised campaigns against ‘corrupt’ opposition leaders, executed with surgical precision, often appear to have a deeper political design. A design that is clearly visible in the scenario unfolding in Bihar revolving around Janata Dal (United) leader

Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Yadav’s possible guilt in illegally amassing massive wealth is no doubt a critical question. Whether Lalu’s son, – a member in Kumar’s cabinet until yesterday – has indulged in corruption is also a matter that warrants thorough investigation. But this messianic zeal to go after the corrupt – all of whom conveniently seem to belong to the opposition parties (particularly those challenging the present rulers in Delhi) – raises an important question: Are we in danger of forgetting some of the more critical and alarming aspects of our current political situation?

Announcing his decision to resign before the media, Kumar yesterday said that he was responding to the “call of his conscience”. Even before the full impact of his announcement had sunk in, the JD(U) leader had teamed up with the – the very same party he had severed his links with just four years ago. As Prime Minister validated Kumar’s decision, supporting him in his fight against corruption, Kumar thanked his admirer from the “bottom of his heart”. This morning, Kumar was sworn in again – with BJP’s Sushil Modi as his deputy.

Should we dare ask why Kumar’s conscience did not nudge him when the 2002 riots engulfed Gujarat during the prime minister’s tenure as chief minister? Why did he continue to be part of the BJP-led Democratic Alliance led by then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee? And why, today, does corruption trump a atmosphere of violence and fear?

Such cynical moves give lie to the idea that we have entered an age without or after ideology. On the contrary, it may be argued that we are in the process of imbibing – or perhaps have already embraced – an ideology of sheer opportunism. What sets this apart from earlier brands of political opportunism is that the implications today are perhaps more sinister than those we have witnessed before. The dominant ideology of the day appears to have scant regard for human life and the culture of fear that many vulnerable communities are today engulfed by.

We seem to be indifferent to the crucial fact that structures of corruption are not rooted in the sphere of finance alone. There is a tendency to use the term ‘cleansing the system’ in a limited sense – to refer only to monetary corruption. But this limitation defeats the very purpose of cleansing the system in the first place.

Let’s not retain any doubts about the deeper implications of corruption. Political corruption includes using state machinery to organise collective violence against one community or another; or staging fake encounters without bringing the suspects to trial. But this form of violence doesn’t enter our definition of corruption today. It is either overlooked or dealt with as leniently as possible.

In contrast, the ‘rule of law’ is vigorously applied against the allegedly corrupt opposition rulers. Whether it is Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee or Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal, the same state machinery which seems to be sluggish in acting against lynch mobs goes into overdrive when it comes to scoring points against political opponents.

In this context, we shouldn’t be naïve about what Kumar is doing or praise him for wanting to root out corruption. The fact is, he is allying with a corrupt regime in the name of overthrowing corruption. So, let’s not have any illusions about what is going on in Bihar – this is our version of

This story has been published by arrangement with

First Published: Thu, July 27 2017. 12:50 IST