No­body’s Al­liance to Save

The Economic Times - - The Edit Page - Mo­ham­mad Sa­j­jad

Much is be­ing writ­ten on Nitish Kumar’s ‘self-preser­va­tion’ and his hav­ing ‘turned turn­coat’. It is be­ing said that al­lies of all ide­o­log­i­cal per­sua­sions love to ‘ro­mance with him’, and even­tu­ally cry foul over his fre­quent flip-flops. A quick look back into Kumar’s po­lit­i­cal deal­ings sug­gests that more of­ten than not, with each such flip-flop, the Bi­har chief min­is­ter has grown stronger.

Early ground re­ports from Bi­har would sug­gest that apart from Mus­lims and Ya­davs, no other so­cial group is re­ally an­gry with Kumar wreck­ing the ma­ha­gath­band­han (grand al­liance), but an­other ground re­al­ity has it that even the Ya­davs are not feel­ing as dev­as­tated as one might want to be­lieve.

Mus­lims have been of­fer­ing more un­flinch­ing sup­port to Lalu Prasad Ya­dav than the Ya­davs. As Cen­tre for the Study of De­vel­op­ing So­ci­eties (CSDS) data show, elec­toral re­sults have been most ad­verse for Lalu Ya­dav: 24-40% of Ya­davs de­sert­ing the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), com­pared to less than 20% Mus­lims de­sert­ing the party in any given elec­tion.

No other so­cial group in Bi­har has ever re­posed as much of trust in Lalu Ya­dav as the Mus­lims. So much so that when Nitish Kumar quit the NDA in June 2013, it was per­ceived as a move only to win Ya­dav’s Mus­lim sup­port­ers back to the Kumar fold. The un­flinch­ing sup­port of Mus­lims to Ya­dav be­came ob­vi­ous in the 2014 Lok Sabha elec­tions when the RJD leader’s vote share of 29% was al­most the same as the de­mo­graphic pro­por­tion of Mus­limYa­dav (M-Y) vot­ers. Every time Kumar went alone, his elec­toral per­for­mance has been mis­er­able.

So what did Bi­har’s Mus­lims and th- eir mes­siah Lalu Ya­dav do to pre­vent the wreck­age of the ma­ha­gath­band­han, es­pe­cially with the BJP in the as­cen­dant in the state? Cracks in the JD(U)-RJD-Congress al­liance be­came vis­i­ble the day for­mer par­lia­men­tar­ian from Si­wan and crim­i­nal Mo­ham­mad Sha­habud­din got bail.

While com­ing out of Bha­galpur Cen­tral Jail on Septem­ber11, 2016, he stated his deep mis­trust in the lead­er­ship of Nitish Kumar, adding that his leader was Lalu Ya­dav and that only cer­tain sit­u­a­tions had made the M-Y so­cial base ac­cept Kumar as the chief min­is­ter.

Sha­habud­din’s state­ment — and sub­se­quent ‘shobha ya­tra’ from Bha­galpur to Si­wan — was ‘ap­proved by si­lence’ by large seg­ments of the Mus­lim lead­er­ship, in­tel­li­gentsia and clergy. The role that show of sup­port for a gang­ster played in mak­ing the ma­ha­gath­band­han un­ten­able, and firm­ing up the NDA’s po­si­tion in Bi­har, should not be un­der­es­ti­mated.

In any case, ob­servers of Bi­har’s pol­i­tics be­lieved that Lalu Ya­dav was try­ing to marginalise Kumar and push his son Te­jashwi all the while. But if Mus­lims felt so ‘scared’ of an im­pend­ing BJP-in­cluded NDA rule in Bi­har, what did they do all those months when the ma­ha­gath­band­han in­creas­ingly be­came un­sta­ble?

Ab­dul Bari Sid­diqui, RJD’s se­nior­most leader, kept mum. For­mer RJD MP from Darb­hanga, Mo­ham­mad Ali Ashraf Fatmi, bar­gained an as­sem­bly ticket for his son, Faraz Fatmi, and also kept quiet. So was the case with for­mer Congress MP from Mad­hubani, Sha­keel Ah­mad.

The clergy, more promi­nently of the Imarat-e-Shariah, main­tained its in­ex­pli­ca­ble si­lence. If the BJP’s rise in Bi­har is seen as an ex­is­ten­tial threat to them, why did they not mount enough pres­sure on Lalu Ya­dav to do ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to keep the ma­ha­gath­band­han afloat? They did not dare ask the RJD leader to put sec­u­lar­ism be­fore dy­nasty.

But did Lalu Ya­dav re­ally want to sal­vage the al­liance? Or did he want to get rid of it, as with Kumar be­ing there, Te­jashwi was un­able to dole out favours to the Ya­davs, thereby los­ing his grip on the RJD’s core con­stituency? Sit­ting in op­po­si­tion was a bet­ter way of re­tain­ing his grip on Ya­davs, as favours wouldn’t be ex­pected from Te­jashwi out of power. JD(U) MLA from Sikta in West Cham­paran district, Firoz, a.k.a. Khur­shid Ahmed, had chanted ‘Jai Shri Ram’ last week out­side the Bi­har as­sem­bly in Patna. Bi­har’s Mus­lim clergy swiftly is­sued a fatwa against him. This self­de­struc­tive pol­i­tics of se­lec­tive si­lence and fatwa is some­thing Bi­har’s Mus­lim lead­er­ship needs to ex­am­ine.

Mere breast-beat­ing and the self-per­cep­tion as ‘vic­tims’ will not take them far in any di­rec­tion of em­pow­er­ment. Nor does it au­gur well for the health of the na­tional pol­i­tics where terms of par­tic­i­pa­tion in the democ­racy are re­ferred to in such cyn­i­cal ways.

Agree­ing to re­main slav­ishly hostage to Lalu Ya­dav, a politi­cian who has brought lit­tle progress and de­vel­op­ment to Bi­har’s Mus­lim com­mu­nity af­ter hav­ing ‘em­pow­ered’ them once decades ago, needs a relook. This as­pect is as much des­per­ately needed to re­trieve the sec­u­lar com­po­nent of In­dian democ­racy as keep­ing it safe from the ‘other kind of mob’. Global labour-pro­duc­tiv­ity growth in con­struc­tion has av­er­aged only 1% a year over the last two decades, com­pared with growth of 2.8% for the to­tal world econ­omy and 3.6% in man­u­fac­tur­ing.… Too of­ten, reg­u­la­tory com­plex­i­ties hin­der pro­duc­tiv­ity.

In­deed, non-tech­ni­cal risks, in­clud­ing po­lit­i­cal risks re­lated to reg­u­la­tion and trans­parency, are of­ten cited as prox­i­mate root causes be­hind poor out­comes, even more so than tech­ni­cal fac­tors.… Gov­ern­ments can help re­shape reg­u­la­tory environments by stream­lin­ing per­mit­ting and ap­provals pro­cesses, re­duc­ing in­for­mal­ity and cor­rup­tion, and en­cour­ag­ing trans­parency on cost and per­for­mance. Many gov­ern­ments al­lo­cate grants for in­no­va­tion and train­ing.

There is a ma­jor op­por­tu­nity to im­prove pro­duc­tiv­ity by in­sti­tu­tion­al­is­ing value engi­neer­ing into the de­sign process and push­ing for re­peat­able de­sign el­e­ments. In as­set classes such as deep­wa­ter oil and gas for which stan­dard­i­s­a­tion might not be the panacea, the op­por­tu­nity for pa­ram­e­ter spec­i­fi­ca­tion rather than in­di­vid­ual com­pany spec­i­fi­ca­tions is sig­nif­i­cant.…

Con­struc­tion lags other sec­tors in its use of dig­i­tal tools and is slow to adopt new ma­te­ri­als, meth­ods and tech­nol­ogy. Sig­nif­i­cant ad­vances be­ing de­ployed or pro­to­typed to­day can trans­form the ef­fec­tive­ness and ef­fi­ciency of con­struc­tion in three ar­eas: dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies, ad­vanced ma­te­ri­als and con­struc­tion au­to­ma­tion.

The writer is Pro­fes­sor, Cen­tre of Ad­vanced Study in His­tory, Ali­garh Mus­lim Univer­sity From “Im­prov­ing Con­struc­tion Pro­duc­tiv­ity”

The real gath­band­han

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.