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Modi Vs Nitish: Will Bihar citizenry filter out the truth or get stuck in the political jumla?

Friend or foe?

By Sreyashi Mazumdar

“By the skilful and sustained use of propaganda, one can make the people see even heaven as hell or an extremely wretched life as a paradise”– Adolf Hitler

Attuning to a similar fervor explicated by the aforesaid quote, Prime Minister Narendra Modi mesmerised the teeming crowd, hurling words or rather fleshing out his ammos directly targeting the new found Kumar-Yadav duo at the Parivartan Rally in Gaya.
With 4000 security personnel at guard and prominent BJP stalwarts flanking the political juggernaut, the rally in Gaya gave flashes of Modi’s efficient oratory and his penchant for words. His tweaked words and phrases, in an attempt at maligning the present chief minister Nitish Kumar gave the media a platter of toothsome acronyms like JDU: Janta ka Daman aur Utpeedan (The oppression and persecution of the people), RJD: Rozana ke jungleraj ka dar.(Fear of the jungle raj)
Amid Modi’s quite plausible and rational plans for the state’s development, there was a flurry of quips that weren’t sagacious enough to expound the truth. Amongst them is the following: Don’t give the people who have ruined Bihar in the last 25 years a second chance.
Poring over the statements sounded out by Modi, one would beg to differ from the maverick considering the developmental activities doled out by the Bihar government under the chief ministership of Nitish Kumar.
Decoding the contention
According to a report released by the ASSOCHAM on Bihar in the year 2013, the state has upped its status considerably despite its “huge disadvantage of the past baggage of laggard development“. The statistical record given by the organization pegged the compounded average growth rate at 20 per cent in terms of public investment between March 2003 – March 2013, while Gujarat lagged behind at 14.1 percent.
Further, the report also threw light upon the positive changes pulled in the state owing to the amount of public investment garnered by the state over the period of time. “It is the public investment which is ushering in the growth trajectory in Bihar, where the BJP is the junior partner to its NDA ally with the JD(U) in coalition that rules Bihar,” posted the report.
Moreover, economist Swaminathan Aiyar’s accreditation of the economic turnaround in Bihar owing to the sound law and order situation under Nitish Kumar in a report in the Mint clearly refutes Narendra Modi’s imagery of a destructed Bihar.
Bihar is a BIMARU state
Amid the lackluster states of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Orissa etc, Modi’s hawk eyes are on a trail to register the anomalies prevalent in Bihar. Lashing out at the chief minister of the state, he said that both Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh under the leadership of Vasundhara Raje and Shivraj Singh Chauhan respectively have succeeded in fending off their BIMARU status.
“Bihar has hit the road on its way to economic recovery and among the BIMARU states comprising Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, it has attained the top position in terms of growth rate with an annual GSDP OF 9.3 percent in the year 2013,” said ASSOCHAM Secretary General D S Rawat.
Taking a step ahead, Economist Jean Dreaze conceded to the improving circumstances in Bihar. He dilated his stand stating that Bihar has considerably cut leakages from the PDS (Public Distribution System) which came down from 90 per cent during 2000’s to less than 75 percent in 2011-2012.
“A combination of political will, empowerment on the ground and institutional reforms like issuing coupons to the beneficiaries which made embezzlement difficult for ration sellers have all helped”, said Reetika Khera, assistant professor of economics at IIT Delhi (an excerpt from the Mint).
Khera’s take on Nitish Kumar’s dedication and his relentless efforts on curbing the malpractices prevalent in the state confirms the veracity of the JD(U) leader’s potential as the harbinger of development.
Mr. Prime Minister seemed overly concerned over Bihar’s depreciating status but did he ever wonder why poor Nitish Kumar has been harping on a special status to be rendered to the state?
“Considering the fact that 53.3 per cent of Bihar population’s is below the poverty line, further, the state’s manufacturing growth being a meagre 0.4 percent as compared to higher numbers for Himachal Pradesh, Assam, Jammu and Kashmir, owing to the lack of private investments in the state, it becomes all the more important for the same to bear a special status”, reported the Economic Times report.
A special status would render an enhanced flow of funds into the state along with other brownie points such as freight equalization and increased availability of resources.
With Modi’s ostentatious promises reverberating the rally in Gaya, one might have overlooked the fact that it was NDA led central government which had denied a special status to the state like the former governments.
JDU means Janata Ka Daman and Utpeedan and RJD means Rozana Jungle Raj ka Darr 
Though, at the very first look, the acronyms might seem quite attractive and bewitching but the suppression and the jungle Raj which Modi is talking of might turn out to be an effective card in solving the electoral riddle. With the amount of support that RJD might garner from its Yadav counterparts and the acumen and deftness wielded by Nitish Kumar, the political union might end up bringing forth favourable changes in the state.
“No party wins elections only on development and Lalu’s track record in governance can be compensated if there is an authentic alliance which helps Nitish with Lalu’s large social base,” said Shaibal Gupta, renowned economist and member secretary of the Asian Development Research Institute based in Patna.
Gupta’s take on the political jointure gives an inkling of a balanced concoction wherein majority support with a chunk of prudent developmental policies might end up fetching Bihar the favourable status it has been looking for.
“He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby becomes a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you”- Friedrich Nietzsche
Politics is quite similar to what Friedrich had to say on people fighting monsters. In an attempt at obliterating bad, we often get enchanted by the bad. Similarly, politicians in their efforts at fixing things rights end up taking to vicious practices.
The tussle between the political adversaries will inevitably encapsulate ceaseless episodes of mud slinging, with media houses nibbling on the jargons used by them in the electoral rallies yet to take place. However, the onus lies on the mango man.
Will the citizenry of Bihar filter out the truth or get stuck in the political Jumla (rhetoric) that lies ahead?
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Come April, government will be more comfortable in Rajya Sabha

Of the 100 BJP-allies MPs, 24 are retiring. Which means, the government will be left with 76 MPs

Parliament of India is a source of interest for many people because of various reasons. Wikimedia Commons
Parliament of India is a source of interest for many people because of various reasons. Wikimedia Commons
  • In April, the opposition may lose its edge over BJP in Rajya Sabha
  • NDA led by Modi has faced many embarrassments in Rajya Sabha in past few years
  • This is expected to change soon

Come April, the opposition in the Rajya Sabha may lose its edge in the numbers game and the power to stall any government bill, as the ruling BJP-led NDA coalition is set to catch up with its rivals, though a clear majority will elude them for a while more.

BJP to soon get more comfortable in  Rajya Sabha. Wikimedia commons
BJP to soon get more comfortable in Rajya Sabha. Wikimedia Commons

As 58 MPs, including three Nominated and one Independent, are set to retire in April, the Rajya Sabha math is going to change. It is set to favour the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), and the trend may continue in the elections to the Upper House later too with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) having solid majorities in a number of state assemblies, especially the ones it won after the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

With this, while the Congress-led opposition’s numbers will come down to around 115 from the present 123, the numbers of the BJP, its allies and sympathisers together would climb to around 109 from the present 100-odd members.

And the gap, once wide enough to let the opposition invariably have its say, will keep narrowing further in the coming months.

Of the 55 retiring members (excluding those Nominated), 30 belong to the opposition camp while 24 belong to the BJP and allies. Of them, a large number of NDA candidates are set to return while the opposition will lose a chunk of its members.

As things stand now, the Congress-led opposition has 123 MPs (including 54 of the Congress) in a house of 233 elected members (apart from 12 Nominated), while the NDA has 83 members (including 58 of BJP) plus four Independents who support the BJP (these include MPs Rajeev Chandrashekhar, Subhash Chandra, Sanjay Dattatraya Kakade and Amar Singh).

Rajya Sabha or the Upper House can often be a game changer while passing of the bills is in process.
Rajya Sabha or the Upper House can often be a game changer while passing of the bills is in process.

Also, for all practical purposes, the All India Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), that has 13 members in the Rajya Sabha, is also with the NDA. This means the NDA’s effective strength in the upper house of Parliament is 100.

The gap was wider till just a few months ago. This meant that during any battle between the government and the opposition in the Upper House over bills and major issues, it was the opposition that invariably had its way. The recent example was the triple talaq legislation that the opposition stalled in the upper house, demanding that it be referred to a Select Committee.

For over less than four years, the Narendra Modi government had faced quite a few embarrassments in the Rajya Sabha thanks to the majority of the opposition, forcing it often to take the money bill route to avoid a clash in the house. Under the Constitution, a money bill needs to be passed only in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha cannot stall it.

Also Read: For Modi, Road To 2019 Will Be Steeper

However, after April, the NDA will be in a far better position.

Of the 100 BJP-allies MPs, 24 are retiring. Which means, the government will be left with 76 MPs (including AIADMK). But at least 30 from the NDA are set to get re-elected. So the number will rise to 106. Add three members that the government would nominate to the upper house and the final NDA tally will roughly be 109 MPs.

Further, there are fence-sitters such as the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS), the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and the YSR Congress, which are not virulently against the BJP and would not oppose the government unless for very compelling reasons.

Now, for the Congress and the rest of the opposition, they are set to lose 30 MPs (including one Independent, A.V. Swamy) through retirement and would be left with around 93 members. The Opposition may win roughly 22 seats, which means that its final tally after April is likely to be around 115 members.

Government can now expect some smooth sailing in the Rajya Sabha, coming this April.
Government can now expect some smooth sailing in the Rajya Sabha, coming this April.

The gap has clearly narrowed and the government may not be at the mercy of the opposition during crucial votes and can have its way in the Rajya Sabha if it musters its numbers by deftly wooing “floater” MPs.

The three newly-elected Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) members may remain equidistant from both the BJP and the Congress, though the party is friendly with some of the major opposition parties like the Trinamool Congress.

Also Read: BJP MP Seeks Amendment to the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Bill

In an interesting development recently, the AAP actively participated in the opposition’s walkout and the day-long boycott of the Rajya Sabha over long intra-day adjournments of the Upper House by Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu.

The AAP, which was not welcome at any opposition meetings earlier, particularly those held in Parliament House, was invited to speak at a joint opposition media interaction on the day. But nobody can be sure as to how long this bonding would last.

Partywise tally of those retiring in April-May from the opposition’s side include 13 from the Congress, six from the Samajwadi Party, three of the Trinamool Congress, two each of the Nationalist Congress Party and Biju Janata Dal and one each of the CPI-M, the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha.

NDA has to face many embarrassments in past few years in Rajya Sabha. Wikimedia Commons
NDA has to face many embarrassments in past few years in Rajya Sabha. Wikimedia Commons

From the ruling side, 17 MPs of the BJP, three of the Janata Dal United, one of the Shiv Sena and two of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) are retiring.

In terms of state-wise vacancies to be created in April, the highest number is from Uttar Prdaesh (9), followed by Maharashtra (6), Madhya Pradesh (5), Bihar (5), Gujarat (4), Karnataka (4), West Bengal (4), Rajasthan (3), Odisha (3), Andhra Pradesh (3), Telangana (2), Uttarakhand (1), Himachal Pradesh (1) and Chhattisgarh (1). IANS