Elections in India: Biharis crave to have one of theirs as India’s PM

Elections in India: Biharis crave to have one of theirs as India’s PM

While the General elections 2019 in India is nearing the end this month, some intellectuals in Bihar have started thinking seriously on how and when one of theirs—a Bihari– would be the Prime Minister of the country.

Dr Pankaj Sudhanshu, a Journalist working for Hindustan and posted in Ara, writes:

“The land of Ara, in the State of Bihar, has always given new direction for this country. For the present election, for instance, it is giving all-out support to the BJP and to PM Narendra Modi, who is not from this state. However, Bihar has never had the priviledge to have a PM from one of its constituencies though it is the second largest State after Uttar Pradesh for Lok Sabha elections.

“So far, Biharis have occupied several high political posts at the national level: Deputy Prime Minister, Railway Minister, Lok Sabha Speaker, among others, but never the post of PM.

“Shri Jagjivan Ram, a resident of Sasaran, in Ara, served the country as Deputy Prime Minister. He was also the leader of Dalit politics in India, and has had the distinction of becoming the first Dalit Deputy Prime Minister of the country. But the Biharis are still waiting for a Bihar Prime Minister.

“ No doubt, we pride in giving this country its first President, Dr Rajendra Prasad. We also had Meira Kumar, daughter of Shri Jagjivan Ram, as the first woman speaker of the Lok Sabha but never a PM. When will it be Bihar’s turn to have a Prime Minister? We hope after Modiji, in the next election, it will be one of ours at the helm of the country. That’s what we want and we will work towards it for the next general election, five years from now on.

“ One may recall, in the Lok Sabha elections held in 1977, after the Emergency, the Janata Party government was formed. In the race for the post of PM, there were mainly three contestants, Morarji Desai, Jagjivan Ram and Chaudhary Charan Singh. The name of Jagjivan Ram appeared to be the favourite for the post. Jan Sangh had decided to support Jagjivan Ram but Charan Singh’s group was against it. At the same time, Charan Singh could not muster enough support. There was a deadlock. Finally, Jai Prakash Narayan and Acharya Kripalani were given the responsibility to select the PM. Both of them finally chose the 80-year-old Morarji Desai to be the PM and Jagjivan Ram lost the opportunity to be the PM; so also Bihar lost its chance to have one of its son as PM.

“Chandra Shekhar, a resident of Ballia, near Bhojpur border, got an opportunity to become prime minister for about seven months. However, when the Vishwanath Pratap Singh (VP Singh) wave was blowing across the whole of North India in the 1989 Lok Sabha elections, the Young Turk from Balia, Chandrasekhar who happened to be member of the parliament several times, was feeling very uncomfortable in contesting the election from Balia. After a lot of thoughts, he decided to join the electoral battle from Balia and also from Maharajganj in Bihar. He was successful in winning both the seats but eventually kept the Ballia seat. During the tenure of the same Lok Sabha, after BJP’s separation from VP Singh’s government, Chandrashekhar became the Prime Minister with the support of Congress. However, since he had resigned after winning the elections from the Maharajganj parliamentary constituency of Bihar, Chandrashekhar missed the chance being called a Bihari PM.

On the other hand, RJD supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav has kept repeating that he would become a Prime Minister one day but he never even got a chance. After being convicted in a fodder scam, he has been disqualified by the court to contest elections. In 1996, when the Janta Dal government came to choose a PM, Lalu Prasad himself did not make a claim and played the role of Kingmaker, and alternately HD Deve Gowda and Inder Kumar Gujral were elected Prime Minister.

If one looks at the list of prime ministers, in this case, Bihar’s neighboring state, Uttar Pradesh, has had nine PMs. They include the first PM, Jawaharlal Nehru to the current Prime Minister Narendra Modi. During the intervening period, MP Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi, Chaudhary Charan Singh, Rajiv Gandhi, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Vishwanath Pratap Singh and Chandrasekhar were also prime ministers. Of these, the original state of Vajpayee and Modi may have been separated from the U.P. but both of them assumed the leadership of the PM while representing the parliamentary constituency of UP.

Isn’t it time to have a PM who hails either from Bihar or a constituency of Bihar?

Elections in India: Biharis crave to have one of theirs as India’s PM