Frontier, 9 January 1971
Bihar too has taken to the path of U.P. At this rate, as a Congress (O) leader put it, it would soon be a centre without circumference.
The downfall of the Daroga Rai Ministry was inevitable; it was the writing on the wall. The moment Mr Rai assumed office, ten months ago, on February 19, 1970, people started looking for the day when the Government would fall.
But in the speculation on timing all the political observers proved wrong.
Actually, it was a matter of surprise that Mr. Rai continued in his office for rather a long term; ten months actually is too much for any ministry in this age when the country is passing through a phase of political instability.
There is no doubt that Mr. Rai did not conduct himself creditably. Even his own partymen made grave allegations against him challenging his integrity and sincerity. He made too many promises which he did not and perhaps could not fulfil. Actually, the Ministry had made itself a laughing stock by indulging in mere gimmicks.
Corruption in high places had become the talk of the town and casteism was practised in its most naked form. These two evils became worse during the ten-month tenure of the Rai Government.
In postings and transfers of Government officials a lot of favouritism and unfairness was openly practised, further breaking the backbone of the already battered administration in the State.
Some of the Ministers behaved in a disgraceful manner which created public resentment. The Chief Minister was not able to control them.
Lenin of Bihar
The Ministry will be remembered for the venomous speeches of Mr Jagdeo Prasad of the Soshit Dal who took up the cause of backward castes on behalf of his party and gave an open call to attack and destroy the upper caste people. The “Lenin of Bihar” as he termed himself, said that what India needed was a caste war and not class struggle.
The poor Mr Dargoa Rai could do nothing and was either helplessly looking on or went on apologising in public for the behaviour of his Cabinet colleagues.
However, Mr Rai proved himself to be a cunning politician and managed to save his government by mean of various political gambles, which were an open secret.
He exploited the greed for ministerial posts among his Cabinet partners. But to satisfy every MLA was not possible and hence the astute politician adopted the strategy of piecemeal swearing in.
The fall of his Ministry did no come all of a sudden. It had been facing serious trouble for a couple of months with a section of Congressmen demanding change in the leadership.
As a matter of fact, the revolt against the Chief Minister in the Bihar Congress (R) Legislature Party had been simmering for some months. But the dissidents chose to bring it to a head at a crucial and psychological moment — on the eve of the Patna AICC session.
Caste politics was said to be behind the trouble. A former discredited Minister, Mr R. L. S. Yadav, has been regarded as the sole representative of the backward communities till now.
But his own caste man, Mr Daroga Rai, tried to establish himself as the champion of the backward. As caste support matter a lot in Bihar where practically every leader is a caste leader.
A big rivalry started between the two. A raid on Mr. Yadav’s house was conducted by the CBI as follow-up action on the Aiyer Commission report.
Mr Yadav’s friends feel that the raid was conducted at the instance of the Chief Minister to cut Mr. Yadav to size. Mr Yadav, an able organiser, has a sizable following in the State Congress. According to political observers, he took keen interest in the move to oust Mr Rai.
Instead of handling the situation with firmness, the High Command behaved as a frightened and demoralised group unwilling to face the realities. Nothing was done probably because the Congress President, Mr Jagjivan Rum, was against a change in leadership in Bihar.
Conscious of the weakness of Mr Daroga Rai, several small parties in the coalition — the Jharkhand, the Hul Jharkhand, the Soshit Dal, the parallel PSP and the BKD — which had been nursing their own grievances, formed a mini-front to put pressure on him.
Most of the grievances of these mini-front leaders were personal in nature, but with corruption flourishing all-round, Mr Rai hardly had the courage to expose them.
The role of the dissidents and the mini-front created several crises. The CPI and the PSP, which are still supporters of the Indira Congress, also created an air of uncertainly because both decided to boycott the meetings of the Co-ordination Committee of the ruling coalition.
Some assurances given by Mr. Rai assuaged the feelings of the CPI. The PSP also decided to continue its support to the Government. But the parallel PSP, the BKD and the Bagun Sumbrai faction of the Jharkhand Party withdrew their support at a crucial moment — just when a no confidence motion was admitted against the Government.
Now, it would be idle to blame the opposition parties for bringing about the fall of the Rai Government. It is the business of the opposition to run down, and, if possible, to oust the Government.
But it must be said that since the last session of Assembly, the opposition did not lift its little finger to do anything to topple it. The SVD, comprising the SSP, the Syndicate, the Jana Sangh and the Swatantra, had become moribund to an extent that it was believed to be dead.
It was Mr Rai himself who created a situation which even an opposition comprising simpletons could not fail to take advantage of.
The half-dead SVD became active with the support of the mini-front and dissident Congressmen and managed to bring down the coalition.
A significant feature of the toppling bid was that most of the small parties under the leadership of Rajputs betrayed Mr Daroga Rai. The key man behind the toppling drama was the Syndicate boss, Mr S. N. Singh, a Rajput.
The present SVD Ministry, headed by Mr Karpoori Thakur of the SSP is the first SSP-led SVD Government in the country.
It has been formed on the pattern of U.P. with the support of the SSP, Congress (O), Jana Sangh, Swatantra, Janta Party BKD, Soshit Dal, Jharkhand, parallel PSP, the Justice Richard faction of Hul Jharkhand and eight-member independent group, sides some independents and Congress (R) defectors.
The total strength of the SVD is claimed to be 169 in a 318-member house.
How much long can a government with a bare majority of nine-last when its coalition partners have already started threatening it?