The Indian Political System – As I See it

This is purely based on my analysis and I might be wrong in my interpretations – so feel free to criticize me and have a healthy discussion, I anyway love making mistakes , learning and then evolving from there on. And before I start , this is Quite Serious and Insightful unlike my other posts.

” This Politician Doesn’t Deserve My Vote ”
” All politician suck big time. – (PJ) What ? ”
” All are corrupt , inefficient and India will always remain this way – Lets Shift to America , UK etc. ”

During the past few years I have met many people who are part of the system (MPs , MLAs , Corporators etc.) and also people who have been constantly challenging the system like Ramesh Ramnathan ( Janagraha) , Arvind Kejriwal ( RTI ) , Capt. Gopinath etc. and my opinion about this whole system and setup has undergone a sea change. I was always of opinion that the best way to solve India’s problems is to make all the politician stand in a line and then shoot some of them, so that the rest of them start working properly. Though I still feel that it could be one of the solutions but I have also realized that leaders are nothing but a true reflection of the people they represent (Majority obviously) or as they say in Hindi , Jaisi Praja – Waisa Raja.

Let me explain better with the real life experiences I had. I am sure most of you would have seen SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE and might have been angered and disgusted at the way Mr. Danny Boyle had portrayed the slums. But trust me its much more worse than that. The last time I happened to travel through an internal road of a slum, atleast half of it was filled with filth, consisting faeces and god knows what else (Just the thought of that moment , makes me uneasy) and then there are people sitting on their charpais , on the same road and cutting vegetables , making chotis , eating food, etc. like any of us would normally do in our balconies. Politicians visit such places, NGOs visit , I and U might visit(only if its unavoidable) but do you think anyone would want to clean that filth ??? None !!!! Instead we would try to teach children, give them money, clothes, etc. because we know that they live there and its them who got to make sure things are clean and neat. Even if someone takes the initiative and cleans it up, they would make sure that it again goes back to its old condition within no time because that is their system; that is how they have been living , that is a part of their habits and lifestyle.

The same applies to us in India too, when we people are so used to filth around us, why would a handful of us at the Helm of Power be responsible for cleaning it?

Now let me familiarize you with the election process in India.

Over 90% of the people do not get basic food and money to survive.

Over 90% do not understand government policies, fiscal policies, infrastructure expenditure, industrialization and other similar things.

What really matters to them is the food that they can get and its all about those 2 rupees per kilo rice, money that is spent, those bottles of Beer that are splurged,etc. which make a party win and come back to power again.

With the so-called educated population who can understand macro factors and differentiate between good and bad being just 10%, out of which only around 70% do not vote.

And to reach out to billions through people employed as “party workers”, requiring a daily expenditure of approximately Rs.1000 per person per day, it basically means that just to merely contest an election and have any chances of winning, you need a minimum of a whopping Rs. 25 Crores for  the level of a MP, 8 Crores for an MLA and around just a crore for a corporator.

And when someone is spending so much, along with other party expenses, marketing expenses, etc., with no system of Political Donation unlike America wherein people are educated, literate, self-sufficient (to the scale of 90%), what else can one expect???

Trust me, from my experience, over 30% Politicians want to work genuinely for the Public but its the system, bureaucracy and other Politicians which literally handicap them. So how do you solve the problem?? Get smarter, educated people and make them understand and form a higher, smarter vote bank with over 70% from current 10% and trust me Indian Political System will be much much better than America’s.
I will try to put up one effective solution to all the problems keeping all the problems in mind. Do check that out too.

Just imagine that you have full access to RBI with Billions of Dollars, No police, No Parents, No teachers to bother you, literally no one to ask you any questions or hold you accountable. What would you do???

Do you keep the cash for a billion People whom you don’t even know, or have sex, deposit the cash in Swiss Account, buy properties and live life king size?

Its simple. There are only a handful who have skills to play through the system and climb to positions where they get access, with hardly a handful to question, then what do you expect ??

Lastly, the other day one of my friend, during a long discussion was complaining about how the politicians have ruined this country: “They are supposed to do this and that, but all they do is nothing. Its all about criminals and muscle power”.

Later, we saw a woman who had parked her vehicle at the wrong place. I told him that i will go and tell her its wrong. That is what i am supposed to do. Whether she listens to me or not is a different story altogether, but let me do what i am supposed to do. And he said “NO NO, its her wish, let her do what she wants. How does it bother you and what difference does it make to you?”.

This is the case with most of us. We complain and expect everyone else to do what they are supposed to do without doing what we are supposed to do. :)

And frankly, most of the times we are clueless and handicapped and don’t even know what we can do. Slums are too far, NGOs are run by government officials to make money.

I cannot commit, i have no time, am not good at this – I will try to address all of these issues along with a solution – watch out for my next post.

Hopefully this can initiate a debate and action or not, I hope people will be forced to think. In case you have liked it and feel it makes sense , then please do SHARE it with your friends, family & contacts.

Rohit Begwani
rohitbegwani@gmail.com

Kargil Martyr’s family still waiting for fulfillment of Government’s promise

A DECADE ago, Indian Armed Forces fought one of the toughest battles in Kargil against Pakistani soldiers and terrorists. The enemy was uprooted and it became an embarrassment for the enemy who declined to accept the bodies of its nationals.

How many of you remember the name Saurabh Kalia today? If you don’t, then for your reference, he was one of the first casualties in the Kargil war. Saurabh Kalia of 4 Jat Regiment, was the first army officer to report incursion by the Pakistani army on Indian soil had along with five soldiers – Sepoys Arjun Ram, Bhanwar Lal Bagaria, Bhika Ram, Moola Ram and Naresh Singh had gone for a routine patrol of the Bajrang Post in the Kaksar sector when they were taken captive by the Pakistani troops on May 15, 1999.

They were brutally tortured for weeks before their mutilated bodies were handed over to Indian authorities on June 9, 1999. Saurabh Kalia was posted in Kargil as his first posting after passing out from the Indian Military Academy and did not even live long enough to receive his first pay packet as an officer. The supreme sacrifice made by Saurabh and his team has faded away from our memory.

Then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee assured the nation that he will take the issue of barbaric treatment of the Prisoners of War (POWs) by Pakistan on international stage. But ten years down the line, this has ended as just another promise made by our government.

NK Kalia, father of Captain Kalia said in an interview, “Of course, his supreme sacrifice has made us proud but what has exhausted, disappointed and dejected us is that the nation, for which he has sacrificed his life least bothered to highlight the plight of war crimes at the international fora.” The family is running from one office to another to ensure that no other POW meets the same fate as the six heroes did. But the history of Indian government has been such that they forget these heroes as soon as they are in a safe zone. They did it after 1971 war and repeated it in 1999. “Is this the way the government treats its heroes?” If the same thing would have happened in America and Israel, culprits would have been brought to justice.

But this is India. Like always, we remember Armed Forces and other Security Agencies when we are in trouble but have rarely stood up for our soldiers. A soldier performs his duty and never expects to get recognition for the same. But as a grateful citizen, we must stand up for him. Don’t forget that we are sleeping happily with our family because few men are awake at the borders, toiling and battling for us. Hope that government will take some action and do something for POW at international level.

Congress MP denigrates success of Operation Vijay

THE APATHY and shamelessness of our politicians is yet again highlighted by the comments made by Rashid Alvi, a Congress member of Parliament. In an interview to correspondent of Headlines Today, he said “Kargil isn’t a thing to be celebrated. The war was fought within our territory. We didn’t even come to know when the Pakistani army crossed over and built bunkers inside our territory. It’s only the NDA, which may celebrate.”Union Coal Minister, Sri Prakash Jaiswal asked, “When is Vijay Divas celebrated?” to the same channel.

 

Later, live on the channel, he was remorseless even when accused; by father of Kargil martyr Vijayant Thapar, of politicising the war.

I must tell this fellow that Kargil was due to the failure of intelligence and other reasons. The enemy occupied the nation’s territory and it was imperative to dislodge the enemy. The battle, which was fought saw the supreme sacrifice made by our soldiers. Let us not politicise the war for personal gains. You must acknowledge the bravery, commitment and patriotism of the soldiers.

This so-called MP must understand that every day, there are so many patriots dying to save the nation. Let’s not use the soldier of this country as a punching bag. Every year, since Kargil at least 400 security personnel have died in action across India. We are fighting a war within the territory and on borders. Is their martyrdom less significant?

It might be for you, Rashid Alvi but not for majority of population in India. You cannot hurt the sentiments of a billion people. Please refrain from politicising the issue. Alvi, while putting a question to Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit, last year referred to Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK) as ”Azad Kashmir,” little knowing that India’s policy is to call it PoK. This is what he knows about India and her geography.
 
The MP’s like him are a danger for this nation.

It is a humble request to Alvi that he must render apoplogy to this nation and realise his mistake.

We need to learn to honour our brave soldiers.

Jai Hind

Mayawati: Vision of Development and Handbag!

MAYAWATI’S STATUE-BUILDING spree has been termed as a demonstration of her narcissism. Remember that Uttar Pradesh  is one of the most underdeveloped states in the country. In the last assembly elections, the people of Uttar Pradesh had given their Behenji an entire term to rule them. They believed in her “Sarv Jan Hitay Sarv Jan Sukhay” slogan and delivered their mandate. I have “serious objections” to those who are raising the point that Behenji is wasting our money. We must understand that every politician has his/her own vision.

Maywati's Statue
Maywati's Statue

Mayawati seriously believes that development can be achieved through building statues. So that is what she is doing. There might be a power crisis in the state but the people should not worry because the electricity that will “light the statues” will also give their homes some light. Something is better than nothing. She might not be doing anything to bring investments to the state, but her decision to erect statues has generated employment for hundreds.
This was the precisely the reason why Ambedkar Park was razed and a new monument was erected in Lucknow in memory of Manyawar Kanshi Ram. Nawab Siraj-ud-Daula had the same objective in mind when he ordered the building of the Imambara after his people were unable to make ends meet after a bad drought. What’s wrong with it? Elephant statues await you in Lucknow. The elephant is a symbol of power. Mayawati is powerful and so is the state of Uttar Pradesh. The state has a population that exceeds even that of neighbouring Pakistan.

To ensure that we remain powerful, we pay no heed towards the population problem and it ensures that the  state plays a big role in the country’s politics. This is the precise reason that we have a “developed” state and why it is scaling new heights. The power and water crisis, lack of infrastructure, investments, and law and order, are just the words used by politicos. But by now, we have “adapted” to it. So who cares for these “words”. Do remember to contribute towards the fund of Behenji’s birthday. You could end up risking your life.

The state might not have any jobs for its students but it has ensured that the state becomes an old age home with children moving to other states for employment. This must be a way to control the population of the state. The new parks and statues will attract more tourists and will increase the wealth in the “Sarkari Khajana” for more “such developmental schemes”. The curriculum of the state board may see some changes as well. We need some reforms in education and it will be great to have a dedicated lesson on “Mayawati and her development vision for Uttar Pradesh.”

Twenty years down the line, I will walk on the lanes of Lucknow with my kids. They will gawk at the statue of the lady with a handbag. I will tell them that it was our Behenji who made this state developed and  prosperous. The parks that we enjoy, were built under her regime. 

But that bag which you see carries MY MONEY.

Nervous China may attack India by 2012: Expert

A leading defence expert has projected that China will attack India by 2012 to divert the attention of its own people from “unprecedented” internal dissent, growing unemployment and financial problems that are threatening the hold of Communists in that country.

“China will launch an attack on India before 2012. There are multiple reasons for a desperate Beijing to teach India the final lesson, thereby ensuring Chinese supremacy in Asia in this century,” Bharat Verma, Editor of the Indian Defence Review, has said.

Verma said the recession has “shut the Chinese exports shop”, creating an “unprecedented internal social unrest” which in turn, was severely threatening the grip of the Communists over the society.

Among other reasons for this assessment were rising unemployment, flight of capital worth billions of dollars, depletion of its foreign exchange reserves and growing internal dissent, Verma said in an editorial in the forthcoming issue of the premier defence journal. In addition to this, “The growing irrelevance of Pakistan, their right hand that operates against India on their behest, is increasing the Chinese nervousness,” he said, adding that US President Barak Obama’s Af-Pak policy was primarily Pak-Af policy that has “intelligently set the thief to catch the thief”.

Verma said Beijing was “already rattled, with its proxy Pakistan now literally embroiled in a civil war, losing its sheen against India.” “Above all, it is worried over the growing alliance of India with the US and the West, because the alliance has the potential to create a technologically superior counterpoise.

“All these three concerns of Chinese Communists are best addressed by waging a war against pacifist India to achieve multiple strategic objectives,” he said.

While China “covertly allowed” North Korea to test underground nuclear explosion and carry out missile trials, it was also “increasing its naval presence in South China Sea to coerce into submission those opposing its claim on the Sprately Islands,” the defence expert said. He said it would be “unwise” at this point of time for a recession-hit China to move against the Western interests, including Japan.

“Therefore, the most attractive option is to attack a soft target like India and forcibly occupy its territory in the Northeast,” Verma said. But India is “least prepared” on ground to face the Chinese threat, he says and asks a series of questions on how will India respond to repulse the Chinese game plan or whether Indian leadership would be able to “take the heat of war”.

“Is Indian military equipped to face the two-front wars by Beijing and Islamabad? Is the Indian civil administration geared to meet the internal security challenges that the external actors will sponsor simultaneously through their doctrine of unrestricted warfare? “The answers are an unequivocal ‘no’. Pacifist India is not ready by a long shot either on the internal or the external front,” the defence journal editor says. In view of the “imminent threat” posed by China, “the quickest way to swing out of pacifism to a state of assertion is by injecting military thinking in the civil administration to build the sinews. That will enormously increase the deliverables on ground – from Lalgarh to Tawang,” he says.

Source: Times of India dated 12th July 2009

Kasab: A National Hero????????

FOR SOMETIME now, I am really wondering that when wills this case of Ajmal Kasab will end. I don’t see it ending in near future. I was always of a view that we should try him at court and not to hang him without a trial. But the snail pace of judiciary is making mockery of the trial. Seven months have passed and we haven’t been able to bring a terrorist caught on camera killing innocent men/women/children to justice.

What a shame?

The media has gone a long way in making a hero out of Kasab. The number of reports on him in last seven months has made him a well known figure of world. His photograph has been flashed on television and print media umpteen number of times. By now most Indians know where Kasab was born and what his parents did. What made him run away from home and how did he come contact with the LeT. We also know Kasab’s love for mutton and chicken dishes and his sole wish to meet Amitabh Bachchan.

We have up to date information on how Kasab is reacting in court or whether he is repenting his crime or not. Why the hell we need this information? This reporting can be termed as callous behaviour of media towards the one who suffered in the 26/11 attacks.

Imagine what pinch they must be feeling when the news channels show over extended coverage of the culprit. I was just reading the story of Captain Amitendra Kumar Singh, who was part of NSG team carrying operations in Oberoi hotel. Hearing about captured terrorist Ajmal Kasab, the 28-year-old braveheart admits, makes his blood boil. “He has become a bigger hero than us.

They should have stoned him to death at some crossroads in Mumbai that time itself.” How true he is when he says that Kasab has become a hero. He is so popular that the producers of reality shows might consider him as a contestant. When Monica Bedi and Rahul Mahajan can become celebrity then so can Kasab!

The money that is being spent on his security and trial could have been efficiently utilised in updating the security infrastructure and helping the kin of the deceased. He must be executed at the earliest. The case should get over now.

This is the apathy and irony that the so called ‘concerned citizens’, who came out in lakhs on December 3, 2008 at Gateway of India forgot the date of election. They preferred spending vacation than doing their duties. The same set of people were crying and shouting on politicians after the attacks. The numerous groups that were formed after the attacks have lost the steam and MA Naqvi’s comments of ‘lipstick wearing socialites’ stands true. The soldiers who risked and laid down their life for us have faded from our memory and media has found a bigger hero in Kasab…

What does the readers of targetgenx think??????

26/11 Mumbai Attack: Scam in procuring Bullet Proof Jackets for Police?

The bullet proof jackets procured for Mumbai Police were of low quality.
This allegation has been levied by the opposition and media on Government of Maharshtra post 26/11 attack on the financial capital of India, Mumbai.

A reply given by Mumbai police to an RTI application seeking the information on bullet proof jackets used by Mumbai Police has raised some sort of suspicion. The reply shockingly stated, “Since the file relating to bulletproof jackets cannot be found, the queries cannot be answered.”

CNN IBN claims that sources in Mumbai Police that the file was not lost, but was being protected from public scrutiny to possibly avoid controversial details from coming out in the open. If this is the truth then it is certainly a matter of great concern. The news channel also says that these jackets were sent for testing and they failed. Every single bullet went through the jackets even though the rounds were fired from a distance. The trial was followed by an enquiry into the spurious jackets but the results of which were shrouded in mystery and now as the police has been claiming, lost along with the file. Sources have claimed that the quality of cloth and special wire mesh used in the jackets was inferior and the vital steel plates were usually corroded.

This is yet another case of rampant corruption in political circles. After Bofors and coffin scam this is yet another instance where the politicians have insulted the saviors of the city and nation. This is perhaps the saddest part of the whole issue. It is directly related to the organization which has to ensure that law and order situation is maintained in the city which is always under the threat. If we cannot provide best equipments to our soldiers and police then that is really very pity. The brave officers laid down their life for the people but it saddens me that have they given better jackets many of the officers might have been saved. It seems that the life of a patriotic soldier has no value for the politicos.

CM of Maharashtra, Ashok Chavan has his own sets of arguments. But whatever be the case both government and opposition must ensure that truth does comes out. If the opposition is so concerned then they must provide the proofs of their allegation and government who is “so determined” to tackle terror must also not try to cover up the whole issue.

We as a citizen have shown in the recently concluded Parliamentary elections have shown our concern for the city by “coming out in large numbers to vote”. Hopefully we will show greater concern this time and ensure that we get the satisfying reply. The families of slain police officers have already demanded an enquiry on the entire issue. We must also pressurize our politicians to tell the truth. And if allegations found true; stern actions should be taken against the culprits.

But will it actually happen?

It all depends on us. If we are genuinely concerned about our safety and regard soldiers with the highest respect then we must act and act tough!!

Reference: CNNIBN

The Berlin Wall of India

It’s a show of greatness that a land of billion, with diversity stretching through the depths of cultures, traditions, languages, religions, thoughts, intellectuals, landscapes and conflicts has been successful not only in being strongly unified, but also in constantly refreshing the dignity of democracy. Today this land where poverty once scratched the streets in numbers almost entirely, has defied the notion of ‘failed state’ once inflicted on the rejuvenating wounds of its freedom fighters. India has come a long way, through many generations, with revived human spirit each of whom has added its touch of significance in the making of this ‘Brand India’.

But as paradoxical as it may seem, India still seems to be in a state of eternal bleeding. An era, when millions once walked together in attire as white as the thought of the person who led them, crushing the barriers of religion and untouchability has long been doomed by the curse embedded in our thought and actions by the new era politics. Its ripples have long been felt and destroyed the new rays of hope that seemed to appeal to the mass at large. India, for almost its entire existence as a sovereign republic, has dreaded the rise of conflicts formed largely as a catalyst of divisive politics. It has driven India on a path, led by the vigour of violence, into constant consolidation. What remains is the growth of the economy with the courage of its people in an environment unknown when to burst into the fires of ideological conflicts.

Today a new era of regional politics has sprouted in lands which once lay resistant to the forces of language based theories. The people, once respectful to the ways of others standards, have now gripped themselves into the trap which lay open to any unfortunate souls. These political parties, who juggled into the politics of ‘Indian Culture’, are the same breed going against the principles of this very culture, characterising on the basis of language and region. What’s harder to digest is the way people have accepted this stain to fit themselves into a frame, not first as citizens of this nation, but formerly as that of their communities. Rather than encouraging people to empower themselves with the skills required for survival in such competent surroundings, these so-called leaders rather prefer to enlighten their minds with their hate speeches, trying to provide them with skills just enough to get away with the policies of reservations.

The ‘Berlin Wall of India’ had been destroyed long back, but its brick by brick construction had also started soon after. The forces which were once made to sway away during the struggle suddenly got a highway soon after independence (mostly as a result of the partition). Today’s politicos have become the Brand (or rather Grand) ambassadors of the ‘divide and rule’ philosophy. The very basic principles of our struggle have been squashed by the greed of a few people desperate to make their mark in a world of coalition government. What remains to be seen is how the country manages to stay afloat with peace and harmony, avoiding the gimmicks posted by these politicians, encouraged by the TRP-centred media and let off too loosely by the judiciary.

India’s borders may not ever be stressed any further, but its people’s outlook, attitude, thoughts and actions have already been affected by the swift rise of the ‘Berlin Wall’ in their minds.

Chai, sutta, politics & the Marathi Manus

Tired of communal politics & mudslinging in Maharashtra?
Tired of debating endlessly on communal tension in Mumbai?
Have you started religiously hating someone because of him being a localite or vice versa?
Why do you think this is happening?

Around a week back, I was chilling in my balcony, sipping delicious masala chai, enjoying the 3 am breeze, before being rudely interrupted from my ‘half awake’ state by one of my roomies.

“I hate all of this communal bullshit in Mumbai” he proclaimed.

I turned to find P, M & Patty engaged in a rather heated conversation involving Mumbai’s political scenario, complete with facts & figures thrown around, with swearing loud enough to make my rather docile gujju neighbors raise an alarm. Having a sizable number of Maharastrian & ‘non-Maharastrian’ friends, I’d been through this situation so many times! A wave of déjà vu hit me as I sat there silently thinking about all the hate & paranoia encompassing us.

As I sat there listening to P joking about declaring Mumbai as an independent country, my mind raced back in time. It brought back innumerable questions put forth to me by my Marathi friends. I’ve listed down a few which actually seemed justified to me.

  • How does a localite, with a family to feed, compete with low cost laborers from other states?
  • Mumbai is bursting at its seams! We’re at each others faces! What do we do?
  • Why don’t we get as many opportunities?

To make it very very simple, locals are unhappy. Why? Now that is `the` issue we need to address!

I see every minute and not-so-minute issue been taken up and blasted way out of proportion everyday by the media.
I see politicians with magnetic personalities give inflammatory speeches which drive people into a violent frenzy!!
Why glorify or hate people who misuse civil unrest?
Instead, why not address the core issue.

Till date, I have only seen hefty accusations & anger-invoking insults being flayed.

I hope this post does not invoke similar responses here. Rather, I would like to open up this forum so that people can talk about what’s bothering the ‘Marathi Manus’ and probably come up with some useable and feasible solutions for the same.

Bihar Transformed

On the morning of counting day, driving through rain and the blossoms of Laburnum and Gulmohar in Patna, I was surprised to find that the road outside Nitish’s residence deserted. For a moment I assumed the other news channels had decided to skip the early morning slightly pointless pre results dispatches, till I walked a few steps away to the next lane. Sure enough, the entire media cavalcade of cameras and broadcast vans was parked right there – outside the home of Rabri devi, Lalu’s wife and the proxy Leader of Opposition.
 
Why would the media ignore the bigger story – Nitish Kumar, the man being wooed by all political formations, praised by Rahul Gandhi, hand-grabbed by Narendra Modi, and generally seen as Bihar’s great hope – to chase the by now predictable story –  the decline of Lalu Prasad, the Railway minister who looked all set to go off track this election?
 
This could a matter of habit – after all, Lalu has been the centre of gravity in Bihar for two decades. Or it could a more calculated journalistic gambit, linked to the well known contrast between the two men – Impetuous Lalu might supply some drama even as a loser, while Punctilious Nitish would not allow the media in except at the
designated hour dutifully phoned and faxed to media offices. Nitish, as the consensus goes, does not believe in springing surprises.
 
And the initial leads came as no surprise. Both reporters and exit polls had picked up the astonishingly high level of Nitish’s personal popularity on which the NDA hoped to sweep Bihar. The only subject of speculation then – what would be the final tally?
 
Lalu’s elder son, a Krishna Bhakt and mildly notorious in Patna, drove in from a morning visit to the temple, flashing the victory sign, holding up both his hands. He is giving four seats to his party – quipped one journalist. Uncannily, that’s what the RJD ended the day with.
 
Ram Vilas Paswan, the LJP leader who completes the Bihar triumvirate, had all morning been enconsced in a five star hotel suite – the one that he occupies when he is in Patna, which is not too often, usually around election time. He has a reason, or excuse, to stay away – as part of every single government since 1996, his duties as Union Minister have kept him busy in Delhi. Except this election took that excuse away. Paswan lost from Hajipur – a seat he won seven times since 1977, losing just once in the Congress wave of 1984. This time, an 88 year old man, Ram Sunder Das defeated him. Das could be this Lok Sabha’s oldest candidate.
 
As far as age goes, many have claimed this election has upturned an old truth about the way Bihar polls. That it is no longer about Jaat or caste, the vote is for Vikaas or development. Hardly one to dispute the remarkable transformation underway in Bihar, led by Nitish, I would slightly modify that claim. The reality is more nuanced.
 
Nitish has revived Bihar’s comatose administration, kickstarted schools and hospitals, used the centre’s money well to build roads and infrastructure – public goods meant for all, they have indeed created a groundswell of support for him across the state and across communities. But what Nitish has also done is target benefits to specific communities, based on caste: the EBC’s or extremely backward castes, numerically larger among the backward castes but edged out by the more powerful Yadavs and Kurmis, have finally been given political space through reservations in panchayats; Mahadalits, dalits minus chamars and Paswans, for whom state largesse now ranges from subsidised homes to monthly supply of bathing soap; even among Muslims, Nitish has singled out the Pasmanda or backward and dalit muslims for special schemes like Talimi Markaj, a scheme aimed to bring Muslim children to school.
 
This is social engineering, Nitish style. And it pays. It has created new votebanks. Numerically, the most significant is the EBC bloc, 100 odd castes that add up to around 30 % of Bihar’s vote. In 2004, not a single EBC candidate was voted to Parliament. In 2009, three will be sworn in as MPs, all three are from Nitish’s party.
 
Further proof of how caste realigned this election – Lalu’s outburst post defeat. Two months ago, on poll eve, he dismissed my questions on the impact of the potential consolidation of the EBC and Mahadalit vote. But as his own electoral defeat from Pataliputra flashed on TV screens, he turned to the group of journalists and ranted : ‘Everyone has united against Yadavs, there is hatred against Yadavs’. His other villains: the administration for rigging the polls, an upper caste media for biased reporting. Familiar targets from the nineties. Not suprising. But what was mildly stunning was Lalu’s dismissal of development as a factor. He said if Vikaas could win votes, he would have won hands down for the turnaround of the Railways. He was emphatic : development does not win votes. It was scary to see a man stuck in the nineties.
 
Nitish, as expected, called for a press conference and walking into 1, Anne Marg had a surprise in store : a mandatory security check, at sharp contrast from the mad chaotic unchecked stampede into Lalu’s home. The security guards, including women constables, were trained to frisk, but did not have the detectors. Another insight into how Bihar is changing – step by step.
 
The press conference took place under the mango tree, the sole unchanging landmark in a vastly different Chief Ministerial Residence. The briefing lasted twenty minutes and a beaming Nitish Kumar repeated several times, the word ‘Nakaraatmak’, translated best as ‘Negative’, but far more potent in its original meaning. Nitish said voters had rejected the ‘Nakaraatmak’ approach of his opponents. Nitish reiterated that this was a vote against ‘Nakaraatmak’ politics. At final count, Nitish had used the word 10 times.
 
Nitish may have choosen the negative adjective, but his work has been an affirmative one, both as the chief minister trying to bring governance back to Bihar, and as a politician schooled in the politics of social justice. The stream combines the socialist ideals of Jayaprakash Narayan, and the modified socialism of Karpoori Thakur – Bihar’s second backward caste chief minister and the first to introduce reservations for OBCs in North India, way back in 1978. Both Lalu and Nitish were claimants to this legacy. But while Lalu squandered it, Nitish is building on it – by deepening the reach of reservations and social targeting. It is Mandal Part Two. And like Mandal Part One, you could have a problem with it, if you oppose affirmative action based on caste. Except, by further refining reservations, Nitish has actually taken on what has been one of the prinicipal criticisms of Mandal – that it helped dominant caste groups like Yadavs and Kurmis become even more powerful, at the cost of the more backward and less powerful groups.
 
Lalu may have privately wished that Nitish’s agenda would lead to a backlash from the upper castes, Yadavs and Kurmis – but it didn’t. Possibly one explanation : even if the others are slightly resentful of reservations, the resentment is offset by the larger benefits of a functioning state that has finally begun to deliver.
 
No wonder, at his press conference, Nitish didnt look particularly crushed at the national picture of a UPA win, and an NDA defeat. Instead, he asked the new government at the centre to live up to the promise of special status for Bihar – just a day ago, every political party had shown a willingness to consider the demand when a hung verdict seemed likely and the support of Nitish seemed crucial.
 
Still beaming, Nitish wrapped up : Good that the elections are over, now lets all get back to work.
 
Post Script: Observations overheard that day: RJD has become Rajput Janta Dal. Apart from Laloo, the other three RJD candidates who won are Rajputs.
 
The election has ended the Raj of Gundas – Gundis. Gundas are dons turned politicians. Gundis are their wives, propped up as proxy candidates. All 10 of them lost. Including Munna Shukla on a JD U ticket.
 
A jubiliant Nitish had one reason to be upset. Digvijay Singh, his former party colleague turned rebel, won from Banka defeating Nitish’s candidate. This setback could be crucial – in keeping Nitish grounded. Bihar cannot afford another arrogant leader.

Source: NDTV Written by Supriya Sharma