How Accurate Are The Allegations Of ‘Jungle-Raj’ In Bihar By The Opposition?

Posted on February 23, 2016 in Politics

By Saurabh Verma:

Bihar's chief minister and leader of Janata Dal United party Nitish Kumar gestures during an interview with Reuters in the eastern Indian city of Patna January 8, 2012. When India launched reforms to open up its state-stifled economy 20 years ago, many states surged ahead, leaving behind the 3.5 percent "Hindu rate of growth" that had plagued the decades after the country's independence from Britain in 1947, and with it Bihar. Picture taken January 8, 2012. To match Insight INDIA-BIHAR/ REUTERS/Adnan Abidi (INDIA - Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS HEADSHOT) - RTR2X3NS
Image Credit: Reuters/Adnan Abidi.

As Nitish Kumar assumed the Chief Minister’s role for the third term in November last year, he clearly said that he would not tolerate deterioration in law and order at any cost. But the murder of Bihar state Bhartiya Janata Party Vice-President Vishweshwar Ojha and an engineer and a contractor in Darbhanga last December put Nitish Kumar in a tight corner. The BJP has been crying for Governor’s rule in Bihar as the situation deteriorates day by day and two of its leaders have been shot dead.

The BJP had already predicted, before the elections results for Bihar were announced, that if the Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance) were to win, the law and order situation of the state would worsen. They claimed that the situation would become worse with the coming of Lalu Prasad Yadav into power. Although Lalu, an accused in the Fodder Scam, has been debarred from contesting elections, his influence can be seen everywhere. His style of conducting rallies remains the USP for the Mahagathbandhan. Wherever he goes, crowds show up in large numbers. But his opposition has always criticised him for encouraging bad elements. Despite that, Lalu remains a key factor in the alliance and his importance in the government can’t be overlooked.

Several months have passed since the Mahagathbandhan came to power. Bihar Police has come out with the crime records till December 2015. The numbers, however, tell a different story from what the opposition is claiming is the case. Excepting theft and burglary, all other crimes have decreased, if only to some extent. Cases like rape, murder and riots have shown a marginal decrement. At the same time, however, an increase in burglaries, kidnapping and robbery can also be seen.

Then, why the ruckus over a law and order ‘crisis’ in Bihar? Is it a planned strategy of the opposition to malign the CM Nitish Kumar and his government for their ‘jungle-raj’?

MLAs (Members of Legislative Assembly) of the Mahagathbandhan themselves seem to go out of control—such as JD(U) MLA Sarfaraz Alam who has been booked for misbehaving with a couple while travelling in a train; an RJD legislator Raj Ballabh Yadav has been accused of raping a minor. While they have been suspended from their respective parties, nearly 60 percent of the total MLAs of Bihar are currently facing criminal charges.

Though the crime graph of November-December doesn’t show any major rise, the reality is that there has been little improvement in the law and order situation. There have been many incidents in the past few months which have tarnished the government’s reputation. The main culprits of the murder of the two engineers in Darbhanga appear to have escaped, a number of major robberies have taken place in the state capital etc.

Nitish Kumar has been projected as the ‘sushashan babu‘ (good administrator) in Bihar. But people doubt Lalu Yadav’s credentials to take action against anti-social elements. So, ‘sushashan babu’ needs to take firm steps to bring the crime graph down and take Bihar to new heights. It was what he was voted into power for.