By Aashu Anshuman:
I was born and bred in Patna, Bihar.
I am too young to remember the details but can recollect the news flashes from when the legendary “fodder Scam” was uncovered. What followed was a mockery of the Indian political system. Rabri Devi, a woman the people of the state had heard little about now and then but never seen, succeeded her husband as the Chief Minister.
Years rolled by. The condition went from being bad to worse. Bihar was the most backward state in the country. Jokes were made out of the state of governance in Bihar. Every year floods claimed whatever little the state had. Crime was the only thing the state topped in. Fear was a phenomenon which gripped the entire state. In 2005, a friend of mine was kidnapped and then I saw the dirty face of my home state in the eye. I can never forget the day my classmates and I tried meeting the RJD “supremo”, Laloo Prasad Yadav at the airport, while he was about to leave in his chopper. But an election rally couldn’t wait and after seeing him take off, I remember asking God to end my state’s suffering.
Ten months later, Bihar finally saw the change in power it so desperately needed. After the five years of darkness, utter darkness, the state finally saw some ray of hope. But the fear remained. The people had, by then, lost faith in their state and a mere change of the name plate outside 1, Aney Marg was not enough to restore it. But things did change, for real. It was no longer unsafe to venture out alone in the middle of the night, even for women. The government officers were toiling to meet the demands of the new CM, who liked to arrive at his office before time and stay until midnight. Corruption was taking a beating and the roads and streets of Patna were now livelier and fuller than they had ever been. The new government was not flawless, far from it. But the people of Bihar were doing all they could to make it work, to rebuild everything andÂ bring back what the state had lost in fifteen years. I, after having lost all hope, was seeiing some. I believed that although progress was slow, my prayer would eventually be answered. This was the story back home.
When I came to college, I saw that the damage the previous government had done to Bihar was not confined to being within the state. Being called a Bihari was an insult. Actually being one was synonymous with being an uneducated villager with Laloo’s accent. Some jokingly refused to believe that I was from the state (“but you speak English!!!”). But even here, things are very different now. People see Bihar in a different light.
My friends and I have been following the Bihar poll results with a keen eye all day. Now when I see Nitish Kumar winning again, this time with a mandate bigger than any I have seen in my lifetime, I am filled with joy. This article was not written as a political commentary or a discourse of any kind, but to precede the following lines.
I have never, amidst everything, been ashamed of my state. And today, as I see the historical victory of not a political alliance but a state which was wronged, plundered for fifteen very long years, I feel proud of the people of Bihar. Today I, as a Bihari, feel vindicated.