There is a dictatorship of the bureaucracy in Bihar. Officials in Bihar have become
autocratic. Corruption is rampant. To curb corruption, no serious steps have been taken. The achievements of the last tenure are also losing their impact. The condition of electricity supple, roads, water, education is miserable. The credibility of the Government is at stake. People consider officers as the main villains. Nitish Kumar is a mass leader. Many people see him as the future Prime Minister and people expect much more than what he is delivering.
There is an R-Block gate near Chanakya Hotel in Patna. Three to four protests take place here every week. For Bihar’s staff or the common people, it is the last stage to protest against the Government. They cannot go any further. The gate is closed. There are arrangements here for a large number of policemen, along with water cannons. If the demonstrators resort to violence, this area turns into Kurukshetra. Then what — it is the bodies of the demonstrators and the batons of the police that are in play. Incidents of lathi charge (cane charge) are common. The people of Patna say protesters are forcibly stopped from going near the Chief Minister’s Residence because the police do not want Nitish Kumar to listen to the voice of the people.
Bihar’s political environment is changing. People’s difficulties are not getting less and people are getting frustrated with the Nitish Government. There are many reasons to despair. People are upset with ‘official’ corruption. The Nitish Government had won the hearts of the people by building roads, but now they too are in a state of disrepair. There is a water problem. There is no solution yet to the problem of power. People had hoped for a lot from Nitish Kumar. That hope now seems to be turning into despair. People are beginning to organise themselves against the Government. Perhaps Nitish Kumar also understands the mood of the people, so he said that we have policy of zero tolerance against corruption in Bihar. But it is only a statement. The people of Bihar are poor but politically mature and fully understand the importance of the statements.
Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal United (JD –U) legislator is most upset with the Government. They cannot even meet their CM directly. The Chief Minister knows this too. The fact is that 52 legislators have not yet met the Chief Minister. Not many people have seen him face to face. It is also a fact that the Chief Minister does not know his legislators. If any MLA meets the CM, he or she returns disappointed. Because of party discipline and political compulsions, no one dare to open his or her mouth. The truth is that Bihar MLA feels powerless. The police and the administration have stopped listening to the words of legislators and they in turn have been humiliated in front of their voters and officers.
The distance between Nitish Kumar, party leaders and the people is getting wider day by day. People supported him a lot and gave him a historical mandate but the recent Adhikar Rally at Patna showed a different picture. One JD-U MLA says despite spending so much money, only 1.5 lakh people gathered at Gandhi Maidan. It certainly raises some questions on the popularity of Nitish Kumar. It was said that just one MLA had arranged one lakh people for the rally. Munna Shukla, Anant Singh, Kaushal Yadav, Sunil Pandey and Dhoomal Singh were the main leaders who arranged for people to come to Patna for this rally. Obviously, this rally was not of the common people, the ‘aam aadmi’ — it was a ‘managed’ rally.
The Nitish Government had won the hearts of the people by building roads, but now the roads too are in a state of disrepair. There is a water problem. There is no solution yet to the problem of power. People had hoped for a lot from Nitish Kumar. That hope now seems to be turning into despair.
The presence of Sanjay Jha in Nitish Kumar’s party has become an issue of discontent for various leaders in the Janta Dal United. People ask questions, but not have dared to take these questions before Nitish Kumar. It is said that Sanjay Jha has become more powerful. His status has become the same as Lalan Singh’s was once. Everyone knows that Sanjay Jha earlier worked in the office of Arun Jaitley. The BJP sent him to Bihar to oversee the performance of the States BJP. But he left the BJP and joined JD-U. JD-U leaders are worried because of this. What is his base? The discontent of leaders, legislators and Members of Parliament has not become public yet, but for how long ?
Nitish Kumar is now drawing far away from the public. Nitish Kumar’s Janta Durbar is now no more than just a pretence. No action is
taken on the complaints of the people, and instead the people are hassled. When one officer came to know that a particular person has complained against him, he starts to take action against the complainant. Therefore, people do not want to go to the Janta Darbar.
If the party workers begin bashing their own party, a party MP is not allowed to have opinions, party MLAs have to wait months to meet their own Chief, then it should be accepted that the party’s future is far from golden. One television channel conducted a survey in Bihar in which a question was asked : who do they want to see as Prime Minister? 55 per cent people want to see Narendra Modi as Prime Minister , only 35 per cent people favoured Nitish Kumar. Nitish Kumar is a mature leader, he is aware of ground realities. Earlier, Nitish dominated BJP, he was aggressive in his stance towards it. This can be guessed by the fact that whenever any leader from the JD-U gives a statement against the BJP or against Narendra Modi, he/she will be rebuked by the party. JD-U has imposed a ban on making any comment against Modi or the BJP without prior permission of the Chief Minister or the party President. A ban was also imposed on party speakers for doing so. The foremost example of this ban is Bihar’s Rural Work Minister Bhim Singh. When he gave the statement that Nitish will be the Prime Minister, Nitish Kumar called him and rebuked him. Nitish Kumar asked him to resign or apologise for the statement. After that meeting, Bhim Singh called a press conference and retracted his statement. He said ‘ Mere bayan se Mukhyamantri ko aaghat pahucha hai. Woh dukhi hain, isliye mere bayan ki aaise ki taise’ (if he is hurt by my statement, I am taking it back).
People have hopes from Nitish Kumar. When Nitish became the Chief Minister, people thought he will bring change to Bihar. During his first tenure, change was seen and after that the hopes of the people increased. The people of Bihar voted for Nitish with an open heart. But now the situation has changed, it is a time of despair and disappointment in Bihar. Nitish Kumar is not facing any challenges from the Opposition. He has to be thankful to Lalu Prasad Yadav, because even today people get scared when recalling his regime. The law and order situation is better today. No looting is carried out in broad day light. There is no ‘Goondaraj’ anywhere. But it is not true that everything is all right. People are fed up. The policies of the Government of Bihar have no impact. Large scale corruption is also prevalent in Centrally sponsored schemes. All the Departments, including Health and Education, are riddled with major irregularities. No investment is coming to Bihar. No new industries have been set up so far. The situation of the Power sector is very poor. The number of Naxal affected districts has increased from 10 to 23 during Nitish’s regime. The Bihar Government does not have any plan for handling this crisis. The situation of cities is getting worse day by day. No employment is available for youth and no opportunity is likely to come in the near future. People do not have any options. People consider their plight to be destiny.
And yet, people consider Nitish Kumar’s regime far better than Lalu’s regime. Fulfilling the aspirations of the people is Nitish Kumar’s duty. It is a matter of regret that he is not measuring up to the mark in this regard. After the landslide victory and a historic mandate for his second term, people had placed huge expectations on him. They hoped he would became a successful and extraordinary Chief Minister and would lead the country later. Not just in Bihar, but people all over the country want to see him leading the country. But the current situation in Bihar shows that he has remained limited to the periphery of being an ordinary Chief Minister. He has made his journey from Patna to Delhi not only difficult but impossible too.
Is there undeclared censorship in Bihar?
Justice Markendey Katju, the Chairman of the Press Council of India, has stirred up a new controversy after setting up a Committee. He believes that undeclared censorship has been imposed in Bihar. The media is facing many types of bans, with the result that it is not able to function independently. What Justice Katju is talking about today, Chauthi Duniya had already published in 2009 with the By line ‘ Mere khilaf likhna mana hai’ ( writing against me is not allowed). When this article was published it had created quite a stir in Bihar. Taking up the censorship issue highlighted in Chauthi Duniya, the Opposition raised questions in the Legislative Assembly. Lalu Prasad Yadav and Ram Vilas Paswan also took up this issue and held a press conference. Justice Katju is the Chairman of the Press Council and fighting for the rights of the press is his duty. But he also has to understand that the Nitish Kumar Government is not entirely responsible for censorship. Because if the media itself foregoes journalism and starts indulging in sycophancy, how can you blame any Government ? Chauthi duniya always dares to publish the truth and is still doing so. We have published irregularities in Bihar without any fear. If there had been Emergency, restrictions would have been placed on us as well. The Government would have troubled us, but this has never happened. The Nitish Government has never done anything against us nor did it try to hold out any ‘temptation’ to us. Even today we are writing and pointing out the irregularities in Nitish Kumar’s Government and will continue to do so in the future too.
At the time of the last election, Chauthi Duniya had gone to the extent of publishing that “Nitish Anhankari ho gaye hain”( Nitish has become Egotiistical). This article dealt with Nitish Kumar’s way of working. Nitish was angered by this article and even changed his Personal Secretary. Yes, in his first press conference after winning the elections, Nitish Kumar had pointed out that Chauthi Duniya was the only news paper he read because it is the only newspaper which sees bad things in Bihar.
Nitish Kumar’s Government has a lot of drawbacks which should be point out by every newspaper. If a newspaper stoops in the greed for advertisements, then whose fault is it ? The issue of freedom of the press arises when news channel and newspapers want to be independent themselves. That’s why the Press Council of India (PCI) should investigate which news papers are flattering Nitish Kumar and the UPA Government at the Centre and the reasons behind it. The PCI should take action against those editors who sell the freedom of press to obtain benefits from State and Central Governments. It is a big challenge for Justice Katju. The very credibility of journalism is at stake. The list of journalists and Editors who works as agents for the State and Central Government is too long. That’s why people are losing faith in the media. Justice Katju should take action against those journalists too who, instead of practising pro people journalism work as public relations officers for the Government.