[dropcap]B[/dropcap]ihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is caught in an inexpedient web of a self-centred alliance and is weighed down by bureaucratic enervation. He is, in fact, under pressure to deliver the “mangal raj” (auspicious rule) that he had promised in response to Prime Minister Narendra Modi jibe on the Mahagathbandhan with RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav whose regime is often referred to as a “jungle raj”.
Modi had Stated that Yadav’s RJD was ‘Rojana Jungle-raj ka Darr’ (fearing lawlessness everyday) instead of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD). The rise of the RJD supremo saw an enormous, simultaneous rise in criminal activities in Bihar: kidnapping, murders, rangdari tax (extortion by goons), riots etc were daily occurrences in the period 1995-2010, which also saw intermittent imposition of President’s Rule and rule by proxy in the form of Chief Minister Rabri Devi.
It was barely 2 months ago that Nitish Kumar was sworn in again as Chief Minister of Bihar. Already the Mahagathbandhan is under pressure to deliver what it had promised, as it is getting increasingly clear that Lalu Prasad Yadav has emerged as an unconstitutional power centre in Bihar in a scenario where Lalu himself is under stress.
Nitish Kumar was recently caught on a shaky ground when he refused to watch the presentation of a team of IPS officers on governance solutions. Turning them back, the chief minister asked them to do what they were “expected to do” for the welfare of the people of Bihar. No doubt, Nitish is known for his penchant for hard work and is considered the face behind a Bihar that is relatively better off than what it was under Lalu. Striking a balance between his “mangal” and Lalu’s “jungle” is a challenge for him.
Alas, Nitish is failing the test. In the last few weeks, Bihar has seen a trailer of the jungle raj, especially after the killing of engineers in Darbhanga and regular cases of extortion. At a horrifying frequency, an engineer, a grain trader and a supervisor with the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) were murdered last month. After engineers Mukesh Singh and Brajesh Kumar Singh were killed in the Baheri police station area of the Darbhanga district, Ankit Kumar Jha, working with a private IT firm, was found murdered in the Kashipur village under the Rajapakar police station.
In the State’s capital Patna, Ravikant, owner of the shop Sonali Jewellery near Rajapul, was gunned down after he opened his shop around 10.30 am. The criminals had opened fire on the shopkeeper before fleeing the place. In the meantime in Purnea, Awadhesh Mandal, husband of JD(U) MLA and former minister Bima Bharti, escaped from the Maranga police station lock up in the night of 18 January when Bharti and JD(U) MP Santosh Kushwaha were present in the police station. Mandal had been arrested for threatening a witness in a case of murder. Elsewhere, Sarfaraz Alam, son of RJD MP Mohammad Taslimuddin and third-term JD(U) MLA from Jokihat of the Araria district, abused a couple on board the Guwahati-Delhi Rajdhani Express the same night. An FIR has been lodged against him at the local GRP station. Rival political gangs are at work, too; an RJD worker has been shot dead in Samastipur while an ASI was murdered in the Vaishali district.
Overall, 578 murders have been reported in Bihar in the last 2 months for which Nitish’s government is in place in the State.
The chief minister is now under pressure to stabilise the law and order situation; he has directed all his bureaucrats that, at the end of the day, he wants results and not statistical boasting to cover up their acts of dereliction of duty. At the same time, he is playing the proverbial ostrich by denying Bihar has a law-and-order problem while his senior partner says that the same group of people who had held the State to ransom during his regime are at it again (as if they were not his henchmen!).
Impressed by Kumar’s work, people had given him the epithet of “Sushasan Babu” once upon a time. He had even excluded himself from the list of VIPs allowed to use a beacon in a convoy. Nitish is seized of the possibility that he could emerge as one of the best alternatives for every anti-BJP gathbandhan (alliance) and his “good governance” model despite all odds can add to its cosmic advantage. However, as of now, he is battling with the ineffective babus. Several bureaucrats, believed to be close to the RJD supremo, have created fresh trouble for Nitish, as they have ensured Lalu’s greater interference and say in departments headed by them. The grand alliance that Nitish formed with the RJD and Congress is being tested barely 6 weeks after Sushasan Babu was sworn in as chief minister.
The recent Bihar elections proved to be a game changer in mainstream politics as, on the one hand, Nitish emerged as a kingpin around which the anti-Modi politics will revolve and, on the other, it could be a different tenure of Sushasan Babu with Lalu Yadav as an alliance partner who has, in fact, emerged as an unconstitutional power in Bihar. Well, Nitish Kumar’s throne is full of thorns. People have a lot of expectations from him. For the sake of Bihar, he must not fail.
Featured image: Awadhesh Mandal, husband of JD(U) MLA Bima Bharti, who fled from a police lock-up with his wife's help.