Dushyant Chautala and Tejashwi Yadav are the rising stars of two political families in Haryana and Bihar. The politics of both the families have benefitted from the strong appeals to their respective caste groups. But that is where the similarity ends. Unlike Chautala, Tejashwi Yadav of the RJD will never partner with the BJP. Dushyant Chautala-led Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) aggressively fought the recent assembly election in Haryana on a high pitched anti-BJP, anti-Manohar Lal Khattar plank.
Dushyant Chautala and Tejashwi Yadav are the rising stars of two political families in Haryana and Bihar. The politics of both the families have benefitted from the strong appeals to their respective caste groups. But that is where the similarity ends. Unlike Chautala, Tejashwi Yadav of the RJD will never partner with the BJP.
Dushyant Chautala-led Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) aggressively fought the recent assembly election in Haryana on a high pitched anti-BJP, anti-Manohar Lal Khattar plank. This was natural for a party leader whose father and grandfather are serving a prison sentence after being convicted in a case, which he believes is politically motivated.
Dushyant Chautala is the scion of a political family, which ruled or remained relevant in Haryana politics for decades. Chaudhary Devi Lal and later his son Om Prakash Chautala, grandfather of Dushyant, were undisputed kings of Haryana's Jat politics. The JJP broke away from the parent party, the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), after a feud in the family. The BJP rose to power in Haryana by sidelining the Jats. And Dushyant's JJP fought the Haryana election on the promise that it would help regain the glory of the old days.
But the election results in Haryana altered the political structure. The JJP finally decided to be a partner in the BJP-led government in Haryana and Dushyant became the deputy CM of the state. Dushyant Chautala aligning with the BJP coincided with the release of his father Ajay Chautala on furlough from Tihar Jail. We don't know whether there is quid pro quo here, but the coincidence cannot be missed.
In this article, I will try to analyse why Tejashwi Yadav, former deputy CM of Bihar and son of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Lalu Prasad, has chosen a different course and why it will not be possible for a Yadav leader in Bihar to repeat what a Jat leader in Haryana has done - surrender to the might of the BJP. There are at least three reasons why the RJD cannot be coaxed into or coerced to ally or hobnob with the BJP or with any other Hindutva-driven party that uses communal polarisation as an electoral plank.Also read: Devi Lal's family on top of Haryana politics again, with fourth-gen dynast Dushyant Chautala
Different political histories
Be it the JJP or the INLD, the Chautala clan has no history of anti-BJPism or, for that matter, practising anti-communal politics. Rather, the INLD has a history of aligning with the BJP in the state as well as nationally.
For the JJP, having secular credentials is not a matter of principle. The Chautalas have done it before and going with the BJP is not a new thing for them.
Now, this cannot be said for Lalu Prasad Yadav or Tejashwi Yadav of the RJD. This party belongs to a rare breed of Indian political class, which has strong secular credentials with no history of aligning with the BJP. Lalu Prasad is known for stopping the Ram Rath Yatra and arresting L.K. Advani in Samastipur, Bihar. Lalu and Tejashwi Yadav stopped the Modi wave in Bihar during the 2015 assembly election. So, Tejashwi and Dushyant have very different trajectories and political DNAs as far as secular politics is concerned.
Tejashwi Yadav is heading a party, which currently has the largest number of MLAs in the Bihar assembly; he can realistically aim to rule Bihar again. With less-than-a-dozen MLAs in Haryana assembly, Dushyant has a long way to go - in the meantime, he has decided to be in power, although only as the BJP's junior partner.Also read: Tejashwi Yadav's style of politics is isolating him and driving away RJD faithful
Difference in demography
There is a sizeable Muslim population (nearly 16.9 per cent) in Bihar and it's important for any political party to factor them in while doing electoral politics. The BJP is building on an anti-Muslim sentiment, whereas the RJD and other secular parties project their politics as being antithetical to that of the BJP's.
Being secular or communal has its own political pros and cons in Bihar. The political course of history has placed the RJD firmly in the secular sphere and it just cannot come out of it, even if it wants to.
In Haryana, the Muslim population is far less (a little over 7 per cent) and plays very little role in politics. Barring three assembly segments in the Mewat region of south Haryana, Muslims are nowhere a deciding factor electorally. So, in Haryana, secularism is hardly considered a virtue or a vice, at least when it comes to political arithmetic. It doesn't have the same political currency that it enjoys in Bihar. So, Dushyant Chautala can afford to do what Tejashwi cannot.
Anti-Yadavism drives BJP's Bihar politics
If we reverse the looking glass and see the political matrix through the perspective of the BJP, we can see one more aspect. The BJP has worked on two binaries in Bihar. Muslim vs non-Muslims, its universal plank, is one. The second binary is the Yadav vs non-Yadavs.
In politics, this has paid the BJP good dividend. By playing on the anti-Yadav sentiment, it has galvanised the support of the upper castes and other OBC castes. This has helped the BJP forge a socio-political alliance of all those groups that are afraid of the so-called ascent or domination of the Yadavs in politics and other spheres of life. As Bihar is the hotbed of OBC politics - OBCs are numerally strong to determine election outcomes - the BJP had to find a fault-line in this social category. It found one - anti-Yadavism.
Even if Tejashwi wants to be in the cosy company of the BJP and surrenders before Modi and Shah, and wishes to get furlough for his ailing father, the BJP will not allow this to happen. The BJP needs a punching bag in Bihar. The BJP needs Lalu Yadav, but in the opposition.
So, in all probability, Tejashwi Yadav cannot become Dushyant Chautala, even if he wishes to.Also read: Nitish Kumar's JD(U) needs to make space for BJP to rule Bihar alone The author is an adjunct professor, Dept of Mass Communications at Makhanlal Chaturvedi National University of Journalism and Communication (MCNUJC), Bhopal. He is the former managing editor of India Today Hindi Magazine, and has authored books on media and sociology. Views are personal.
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