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Nitish Kumar: Bihar’s ‘Mr Clean’ who humbled Narendra Modi

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Patna: He studied to be an engineer but ended up embracing politics. And in a state where many politicians are detested, Nitish Kumar – who took oath on Friday as Bihar’s chief minister – is widely recognized as a rare icon of simplicity and honesty.

Even critics of Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal-United (JD-U) grudgingly admire his many traits that enabled him to make up with his friend-turned-foe-turned-ally Lalu Prasad and deliver a huge blow to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his BJP in one of the most bitterly fought assembly elections.

Born in 1951 at Bakhtiyarpur in Patna district to an Ayurvedic physician and Congress leader, Nitish Kumar plunged into politics in the early 1970s at a time when Bihar was in ferment.

The numerous street protests in which he took part slowly turned the ‘Munna’ (child) — as he was known in the family — to a leader, getting elected to the Bihar assembly for the first time in 1985.

He became president of the Yuva Lok Dal in 1987 and secretary general of the then undivided Janata Dal two years later.

He entered the Lok Sabha in 1989 and went on to win five parliamentary elections from Bihar as his popularity soared. But as he grew and grew in stature, he kept his family away from politics.

A minister of state in the V.P. Singh government, he became railway minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government but resigned when a train disaster claimed the lives of about 250 commuters.

He returned to the cabinet as the minister for surface transport and agriculture.

Even as his former friend Lalu Prasad – a successful politician in his own right – earned notoriety for his brash conduct and corruption, Nitish Kumar came to be recognized for his moderate approach to everything.

He is a teetotaller who detests tobacco. Over time, he became an advocate of equitable development and good governance, which Bihar seemed to lack.

Nitish Kumar became the chief minister of Bihar for the first time in 2000, but his government was short lived. He had to resign within a week as he failed to prove his majority in the assembly.

By then, Nitish Kumar had come out of Lalu Prasad’s shadow and charted his own course.

In 2005, he teamed up with the BJP — a party he had opposed for years — to take power in the state again and end the 15 long years of reign by Lalu Prasad. He led the coalition to victory again in 2010.

The rise of Narendra Modi in the BJP, however, upset Nitish Kumar, who walked out of the 17-year-long alliance.

After the BJP led by an aggressive Modi swept the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Nitish Kumar made way for colleague Jitan Ram Manjhi, only to reclaim the post.

The JD-U stalwart is credited with re-laying roads that had virtually ceased to exist, building over 12,000 bridges and 66,000 roads, completing long-delayed infrastructure projects, appointing more than three lakh school teachers and ensuring that doctors attended health centres.

He also cracked down on criminals with strong links to politics. Speedy trials were ordered against 85,000 criminals, many of them politicians. All this was a veritable revolution in Bihar.

When the assembly elections were called this year, it became another prestige battle between Modi and Nitish Kumar. This time, having made up with Lalu Prasad, he humbled the prime minister in an election result which most pundits said would have national repercussions.

That much was evident when top leaders of non-BJP parties made it a point to attend his swearing-in on Tuesday.

His aides say Nitish Kumar is a firm believer in hard work and has a vision. In the decade he governed Bihar, the state made news for economic development. The law and order situation pointedly improved.

“It was the technocrat in him that reflected in his bid to develop Bihar. Nitish Kumar became a ‘vikas purush (man of development). Even his critics agree,” JD-U state president Vashisht Narain Singh, who has known Nitish Kumar since the 1990s, told IANS.

(Imran Khan, IANS)

 

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Greed For Power May Demolish The Democracy

Politicians compete with each other for power and this greed for power can demolish democracy

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Greed for power in politics may demolish democracy in India. Pixabay

By SALIL GEWALI

It is too disgusting that Shiv Sena is aiming for something which was nothing but an act of betrayal. Here the principles and ethos of the party are just sacrificed. The “chair” of Chief Minister is what the individual parties in Maharashtra are wanting so badly. And for this only Shiv Sena has severed its ties with its all-time ally BJP which emerged with the largest number of MLAs. Is it not the BJP with which Sena made the alliance before the election? Why so much bitter feelings after the poll result? Many past elections were fought on this mutual understanding. Sena had always taken pride and bragged about its power and clout as because the BJP was behind it. But now very contrary equation and chemistry are on display. NCP, Congress and Shiv Sena are sharing the ideas as opposed to the expectation of the whole electorate.

Democracy
Politics in India might lead to a sinking democracy.

One believes it’s Congress and its High common which Shiv Sena Supremo Late Bal Thackeray always disliked and ruthlessly held them up to ridicule. It was because they hold the opposing ideologies. But now his son Uddhav Thackeray kneeled down and sought the helping hand of those rival camps to walk the party through for the chair of Chief Minister. Going by the flood of comments on the social media, this party has ostensibly fallen from the grace. BJP is not a holy cow either. It is equally good at flexes its muscles for the power.

Also Read- Being Terrorized Comes With Job for Women in Politics

While Maharashtra is already under the president rule, the NCP and Congress now exploring all possible means to back Shiv Sena.   Uddhav Thackeray only wants to see his son Aditya Thackeray being the Chief Minister of one of the riches states in the country. The trend is not at all healthy. Here everything is utterly clear that the cherished values of democracy in India are fast eroding. Majority of the states in the country, only the “particularly families” are  always standing up to rule the roost. This is a bigger threat to the fundamental values of the country.The NATION is no more controlled by the government of the people, nor is it for the people. It is the government of the particular families which is formed for the fulfillment of the low greed and narrow aspiration of those particular families. Lastly, it is the common people who are always at the receiving end of the leaders’ whims and tantrums. Phew, the country is not at all in the safe hands.

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’. Twitter: @SGewali