As you travel 2-3 Km away from the Jayaprakash Narayan Airport, Patna, you will suddenly find huge white bungalows melting into densely populated coarse buildings sprouting from the ground, wide clean roads degrading into choked dusty roads, and green leaves getting replaced by political hoardings. Politics and political discussions enjoy a special space in Bihar, everywhere – in Pan Shops, in auto-rickshaws, in buses, universities, in shopping malls – everywhere.
With Bihar Legislative Assembly election, 2015 just around the corner, political activities have started gearing up. The naked reality of the state is hastily covered in posters, hoardings and banners. Political parties including Congress, BJP, JDU, newly formed HAM are putting all their efforts to harvest the maximum. Due to absence of any prominent faces in the opposition, the political battle – as of now – is expected to be fought between Nitish Kumar and others. Nitish Kumar clearly holds a strong upper edge.
Given the fact that the social-economic circumstances of Bihar are more deplorable than other states, the politics which is expected to shape in the next months will be quite different from politics in Delhi, Maharashtra or Haryana. On 17 March 2015, Jitan Ram Manjhi led Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) launched Gareeb Swabhiman Rally against Nitish Kumar in which Manjhi claimed that Nitish Kumar is wasting money on unnecessary projects and when he is questioned about salary enhancement of teachers, guards, police he cries for resource crunch. As expected, Manjhi focused his agenda around women, Dalits, minorities, farmers and poor.
Even before Bihar could catch the election fever and BJP could start getting actively involved in it, RJD chief Lalu Prasad confirmed that six parties – SP, RJD, JD(U), JD(S), INLD and SJP – have merged together as Janata Parivar to “drive out” the BJP from Bihar and the Centre. Amit Shah will be holding a rally in Gandhi Maidan, Patna tomorrow (14 April 2015). The rally will give an initial idea about how BJP will unfold its politics in coming days. Some other recent interesting political news include some unruly behaviour at a Congress rally.
While traveling along Ganga on the Patna University lane, I talked to a few random chaiwallas , rickshaw wallas, college students about Bihar; I also discussed present and future of Patna and Bihar with some of my relatives. Some of the perspectives were really interesting. One of my relatives said, “Nitis ke andar Bihar ka bahut Vikas hua hai” and then he explained how poor oldies and widows are getting cheap ration and monthly pension. When I asked him, “How will the government sustain this for long”, he replied, “Jaise abhi tak kia hai…waise aage bhi karenge”. One rickshawalla whom I enquired angrily said, “Inka bhi wahi haal hoga jo Lalu ji ka hua tha”
Beyond ideologies, promises and politics, conditions of the older part of Patna remain strikingly pathetic. Narrow adrift lanes of Mahendru, Mussalahpur and Patna Sahib are stingingly stuffed with garbage and flies. I saw a kid defecating in an open drain under a poster which read “Gareeb Swabhiman Rally.”
Words like Gareeb and Swabhiman have been floating in Bihar for long. Hope we find someone who can not only improve the condition of Patna, but also conditions of entire Bihar.