[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]N[/dropcap]ow that the passion and euphoria of a great electoral victory are behind, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar stares at the foremost challenge: To deal with the apprehension of the return of ‘jungle raj’.
Jungle raj was synonymous with the 15-year rule of RJD chief Lalu Prasad and his wife Rabri Devi when, under the slogan of empowerment of the ‘oppressed’ classes, Lalu’s clan unleashed a region of terror that people still shudder when they think of it. Doctors and engineers were abducted by the hundreds for ransom and businessmen fled the state in hordes to escape the gun-wielding extortionists. The state also witnessed unprecedented cast clashes and Central Bihar acquired the nickname of ‘killing fields’.
The crime and killing flourished under the state patronage. Yadav led the attack on law and order with immunity. The police shuddered to registered case against Yadav and Lalu turned a blind eye to their misdeeds. Bihar became a subject of joke and concern, and the state economy and administration collapsed completely when Lalu got embroiled in the Rs 900 cr ($136 million) fodder scam in 1996. In 2004, the people of the state rose as one and ousted Rabri Devi’s “puppet” regime with thumping majority, bringing the curtain down on what was a veritable ‘jungle raj’.
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]T[/dropcap]en years down the line, voters of Bihar have once again empowered Lalu Prasad in a battle of caste and communalism, hoping that someone like Nitish Kumar as Chief minister will not allow Bihar to slide back to the days of anarchy and chaos of the nineties even if Lalu Prasad were the bigger partner of the ruling Grand Alliance…
As a welcome change, Lalu’s supporters did not take to the streets after such a landslide victory.
Talk to any doctor, professional, trader or businessman in Patna, and it becomes clear that a section of the relatively affluent people, as well as urban middle class, are apprehensive of the return of the kidnapper gangs and roadside thugs and Romeos. Women are scared that their school-going children may be waylaid and shopkeepers are dreading the raid of the gun-wielding criminals.
“We are living in fear. We hope and pray that both Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad will work in tandem to ensure that criminals and kidnappers don’t get a free hand in the state again,” said a timber merchant.
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]T[/dropcap]he BJP, which projected the return of the jungle raj as its pet election slogan, is already talking about signs that the state is again returning back to those dark days. Senior BJP leader Sushil Modi has issued a statement, enlisting a series of crimes that took place in the last few days, and said there are tell-tale signs that the `Jungle raj’ is already back.
While Modi’s comments can be seen as the frustration of a man thoroughly defeated in the electoral battle, there is an atmosphere of unease among people and they will judge Nitish Kumar harshly if he does not pass the test on law and order front.
However, Lalu seemed to be aware that the entire country is watching him. If Bihar’s law and order deteriorates, Lalu Prasad would have wasted his last opportunity to reinvent himself. The assembly elections have shown that voters can punish hard if you let them down. Lalu has already issued a stern statement asking his supporters not take law and order in their hands and also told his legislators not to do anything that could bring disrepute to the party.
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]A[/dropcap]s a welcome change, Lalu’s supporters did not take to the streets after such a landslide victory. There have not been any post-poll violence as well, and so far there are no evidence to suggest that police machinery or state administration is under any pressure.
Sources said that Nitish Kumar will convene a meeting of senior police officials within a week of his swearing-in on November 20 and direct them not to show any leniency in dealing with criminals irrespective of their political or caste affiliations.
“Nitish Kumar will never compromise on his image. People who are raising the bogey of the return of the jungle raj are not able to digest their defeat”, said JD(U) spokesman Sanjay Singh.
For Nitish to succeed as Chief Minister, Lalu prasad must rein in his flock. On that alone will depend on the future of Bihar!
1. The conversion rate used in this article is 1 US Dollar = 66.20 Rupees.
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