Negativism again to Nitish rescue
NDA losing the shine in Bihar
Negativism has come to occupy pivotal place in Bihar politics, nay in our democratic system. This negative factor had helped Nitish Kumar climb the Chief ministerial gaddi some seven years ago. And this ‘elixir’ is, once again, active in ‘arresting’ his falling image in the people’s eyes.Anti-Lalu-Rabri factor had catapulted Nitish Kumar-led NDA into power in Bihar. Now Lalu Prasad is once again trying to ‘re-set his foot’ in the state politics as the 2014 Lok Sabha elections knocking at the doors. Moreover, the exit of Trinmul Congress from the UPA has made the Manmohan Singh government somewhat ‘shaky’. This Lalu factor seems to be making general people think afresh on distancing themselves from Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
The Nitish popularity has been receiving beating to the extent that people have started showing him black flags and throwing chappals at him during his ‘Adhikaar Yatra’ visits for garnering support for the main rally at Patna in November. Even the ‘steel-frame’ security seems be failing to bar people from venting their anger. Mounting corruption, over bureaucratisation, escalating crime graph, especially rape and killing of young girls and women, black marketing in fertiliser and other farm inputs and other factors have made big dents into the popularity of NDA government. The recent heavy rains had made Patna as hellish as it was in the Lalu-Rabri era. The promise to make Patna Parish of the country has fallen apart.Nitish Kumar and his alliance BJP leaders should realise that only rosy dreams and tall promises cannot keep people satisfied for long. The sand of time is running fast. Not a single paisa has been invested by big industrial houses, deshi or bideshi, despite all hullabaloos and tall claims. The tag of Patna being ranked 21st fastest growing city in the world and 5th fastest growing city in India by City Mayors Foundation cannot hold for long. The progress has to be seen on ground.
A Rediff.com survey has found Patna as the fourth most hated Indian city. It said “the Nitish Kumar magic doesn’t seem to be working with readers. Despite the chief minister being lauded for his all-round efforts for maintaining law and order 37 per cent voted Patna as the number one city they hate for prevalence of goondaism and crime; 23 per cent hate the city because of corruption, 15 per cent for ugly and untidy appearance and ten per cent for its offensive people”.
Bihar ranks second on corruption in the rural areas. According to corruption survey conducted by Centre for Media Studies, New Delhi, the overall percentage of rural households which paid bribe for any public service during the last one year has come down from 56 per cent to 28 per cent. The top four corrupt states are Chhattisgarh (55 per cent), Bihar (52 per cent), Kerala (46 per cent) and Maharashtra (40 per cent). On the other hand, Union minister of social justice and empowerment Mukul Wasnik has claimed that the number of cases related to such atrocities against schedule castes has gone up significantly in Bihar since 2002, He said 3,730 cases were reported in 2011 as against 1,494 in 2002. On the contrary the conviction rate has declined from 31.82 per cent in 2005 to 10.90 per cent in 2011, the minister added.
Over bureaucratisation seems to be making the NDA’s ‘sushan task’ difficult. Nitish Kumar, however, is aware of anti-Lalu feelings among the masses. And he is playing this card wisely to soothe the hurt feelings. The Chief Minister made fun of Lalu Prasad’s move to provide buses to some schools and colleges in his parliamentary constituency Chapra for the students to counter state government’s ongoing scheme of providing bicycles to high school boys and girls across the state. “Only providing buses will not do. He should also make arrangement for the fuel, driver, cleaner and maintenance otherwise what use of this facility, Nitish quipped.
The RJD chief, who has not spent his MPLAD fund since his re-election from Chapra in 2009, has now intimated the administration his plan to purchase buses for some selected schools and colleges for ferrying the students. The former CM has apparently planned to counter the huge success of Nitish’s bicycle scheme which he started in 2008 with girls. Later this scheme was extended to boys also. The Chief Minister earned huge political mileage and registered historic victories in both 2009 Lok Sabha and 2010 Vidhan Sabha election.
In the 2010 election, Lalu had attempted to counter bicycle with bike. Initially, he had announced to give students motorcycles but the scheme was pooh-poohed by his rivals. Nitish had sarcastically remarked that the motorcycles would minor school going children lead them to police station and not schools. The plan was abandoned. Now he is again trying to rake up the issue by providing buses for students in some educational institutions in his Lok Sabha constituency. Nitish said: “The bicycle gave girls a sense of empowerment. Their number in high schools has gone up from 1.5 lakh to 6.5 lakh largely because of bicycles which ignited among them a sense of flying high and making big leaps”.
Undaunted Lalu Prasad, however, is going ahead with bus gifting programme. He gifted 57 buses to schools and colleges in Chapra Lok Sabha constituency. The total cost of the bus comes to Rs 15 crore. The RJD is planning similar offers in Vaishali and Buxar Lok Sabha constituencies represented by party leaders Raghuvansh Prasad Singh and Jagdanand Singh in Lok Sabha. Lalu Prasad has said: “that is the least I can do for my people, who are bored of Nitish Kumar’s bicycle”. Sunshine or moonshine, the general people should be the gainers in the battle for Bihar gaddi between the erstwhile Chanakya and Chandragupta.