Winds Of Change Sweeping Bihar (?)

Posted on September 29, 2010 in Politics

By Pratik Goyal:

A politician thinks of next election but a statesman thinks of next generation. A saying quite apt (if you ask a common man from Bihar) for the current CM of Bihar, Nitish Kumar who is up for re-elections coming October. Will JD(U) be sail through to a second term as Lalu Prasad Yadav and Ram Vilas Paswan who are the planning their election campaigns based on caste loyalties. Only the time will tell.

Setting our clocks two decades back when Lalu Yadav became the CM of Bihar for the first time, when Janata Dal came into power on back of an anti corruption drive. Lalu was popular among the masses and was considered a charismatic leader enjoying their support. But he failed as an agent of change and instead became the face of demagoguery in the state. When the corruption charges severed, Rabri Devi, his wife was made CM and Lalu enjoyed the proxy leadership.

After 15 years of RJD Regime in Bihar the conditions had become so adverse that World Bank believed that issues faced by the state were “enormous” because of “persistent poverty, complex social stratification, unsatisfactory infrastructure and weak governance“. A statement representing epitome of the Lalu led administration in Bihar.

And in 2005 when the dissatisfaction reached the pinnacle of tolerance among masses – RJD was voted out of power and a coalition led by Nitish Kumar came to power. The new rule in 15 years started the revival process of Bihar by bringing the derailed wagon of development back to the track. A state that was usually in the news for the wrong reasons, Bihar has stunned the country by turning in a storming growth performance, averaging around 11% annual growth over the five year period starting 20004-05.

Developmental processes started rolling in with huge investments for improvements of the basic infrastructure facilities. This is evident from the fact that construction grew at 35% per annum in Nitish tenure in comparison to 8% per annum in Lalu tenure. Another initiative of the Nitish led government is high encouragement of entrepreneurs to establish their industry in the state. Law and order of the state has improved drastically and services have also grown at higher rates. Higher education has been streamlined and many development initiatives have been undertaken by this government. People are feeling safer and have started investing in the state facilities. Inclusive growth has been the motto of this government and they have tried so bring all around development.

Overall Nitish government led the people to tastes the fruit of development, though the sustainability of this development is subjected to questions. Government recognizes the fact that the achievements so far are good but mark just the beginning of development and will take longer time to consolidate.

Now as far as the elections are considered Nitish is clearly the favorite among the electorate with his and his cabinet’s clean and scam free image. Nitish is also likely to be preferred by the electorate due to the fact that his rivals are not seen as ‘performing’ leaders. While a willful negligence of good governance and development has been the hallmark of the Lalu-Rabri regime, Paswan is hardly taken as any different from his ally. Lalu’s promises of changes in Bihar like his makeover of railways does not have many takers and his baggage of the past will make the task more challenging against a government that has successfully managed to sweep winds of change through Bihar.

[Popular rumours suggest that the Nitish led government has had numerous flaws such as caste politics in the name of development, illicit use of power, etc. It would be interesting to see how these issues emerge in the Bihar state elections.]