Rule of criminals in Bihar

Arun Srivastava

In Nitish Kumar’s Bihar it is the rule of criminals and goons that prevails, with the lives of the common people, especially women, who are supposed to be his trusted vote bank, being decided by them: certainly not sushasan as claimed by the chief minister and his supporters.
Leaving aside the first five years of his NDA government, Nitish has not succeeded in providing a good governance in the state, despite tall claims of Bihar having the most fair and good governance. But the fact remains that the state suffered administrative epilepsy and paralysis. Nitish has been using police as the mainstay of his rule, but the force often behaved indifferently.
The latest example of police acting as sympathisers of criminals has come in the case of 40 girls in Supaul being thrashed for opposing sexual harassment. The incident provides an insight into the social and moral decline in the state. The situation has degenerated to such an extent that the people do not have the courage to challenge them. In Supaul they instead joined the assault.
At least 40 resident female students were beaten by goons for protesting against eve teasing and lewd comments. But they were beaten up mercilessly, leading to severe injuries for some of them, who were then admitted to the Referral Hospital Triveniganj.
On Sunday when the girls found a boy writing lewd remarks on the school wall once again, they objected and scolded him. However, after a few minutes more than 150 people gathered at the school armed with lathis and sticks and attacked them. The girls were thrashed brutally, many suffering internal injuries.
Local MP Ranjana Ranjan charged that girls were unsafe in Bihar and the local administration was trying to cover up the case. She claimed that an FIR was registered in the case only after she intervened. She demanded that the government act on erring district officials. Reports said that the girl students of Kasturba Gandhi School in Daparkha village of Trivenigan were playing when the goons attacked them.
The men barged into the school and thrashed the girls. In fact, the girls had earlier objected to their activities and complained to the police. But no action was taken. Incidentally this has happened at a time when #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and assault is catching on.
It is ironical that Nitish has been maintaining a stoic silence on the incident, which has occurred when his government is already facing criticism over the recent shelter home rape case where over 34 women were raped and sexually harassed. One thing is absolutely clear that Nitish has been losing political ground as well as moral authority.
His political authority has further eroded in view of the latest attack on Bihari labourers in Gujarat. The average Bihari is seething with anger at this event. Though they charge the Gujarat government and political parties for creating the despicable situation, they also accuse Nitish of not cautioning his people against criminal activities.
It would be naive for Nitish to think that even after these disgusting incidents people will forgive him and vote for him. Whichever alliance he may head, it is unlikely to work. The condition has further worsened with upper caste Bhumihar leaders turning against him. Only three days back senior BJP leader CP Thakur, an upper caste Bhumihar, announced his decision to go on hunger strike against Nitish Kumar’s indifferent attitude towards them. The upper caste leaders are aggrieved over Nitish paying more attention to the backwards. The upper caste BJP leaders have also petitioned their national leaders not to succumb to the demands of Nitish for more seats. This would alienate them and they could even switch over to Congress.
The grand alliance is also facing a lot of problems. The RJD family feud and strained relations between the two sons, Tejpratap and Tejashvi, would adversely affect the grand alliance candidates. The Yadavs are already split but hopes are being expressed that Lalu Yadav at the eleventh hour would step in and salvage the situation. Meanwhile, efforts are being made to coax Tejpratap to think rationally. A non-BJP government would provide a new lease of life to Lalu. Some RJD are of the view that some BJP leaders having close relations in RJD are working on this plan.
The role of the left leaders, especially of the CPI(M) is most astonishing. Though the party Congress endorsed Yechury’s line, the leaders are not making any serious effort to evolve a strong alliance and a triangular fight seems to be in the offing. (IPA)

Tuesday, 23 October, 2018