The Bihar assembly election results are out. The ruling JD(U)-BJP alliance has returned to power with an overwhelming majority. Winning 206 out of 243 seats says a lot about the faith that people of Bihar have in this government. The reasons for this are not too difficult to fathom. The previous five years have given sufficient evidence that we can have hope.
I was in Patna during Diwali at the time of the 5th round of voting. Now being an occasional visitor, I saw for myself what people/media have been talking about. There are definite signs of development in and around Patna (I can’t say about other parts). Infrastructure is improving, the roads are better; there are flyovers everywhere in Patna. Even the cinema halls & markets have improved and seem a bit cleaner. Having had Ram Vilas Paswan, Nitish Kumar & Lalu Yadav as Union railway ministers has ensured that Bihar has the best rail connectivity in the country. Air connectivity has also improved tremendously. But the biggest change has been in the perception of the law & order situation in the Bihar. This has been the one area which the Nitish government can take full credit for. People can think of staying out longer. Overall lots of positive signs are there.
Now, for a list of requests that I have for the Nitish government. (A friend has already covered quite a few points here)
1. The Bihari Self-Respect
For all practical purposes, I have been a non-resident Bihari within the country for quite some years. "You don't sound a like a Bihari" is a statement people make thinking that its a complement when actually it feels like a slap in the face. People talk about Bihar as the byword for everything associated with lawlessness & backwardness. For the first time in many years people are referring to Bihar with a positive note. It’s no longer just another running joke for the country. And yes, it does feel nice to be associated with a state where words like development, education, growth are mentioned rather than poverty, kidnappings and lawlessness. We have a habit of living in the past. We refer to our glorious history when Pataliputra was the cultural, political capital of India. But those days are long gone. And we need to build from the present. Please ensure that the Bihari self-respect is no longer attacked.
2. Alternate Urban Centres
It is good to know that new educational institutions are being opened, industries are being setup, investors are coming to the state. I have a request. Please do not open these in Patna. The city’s infrastructure cannot sustain so much growth. In fact it is more likely to hamper the growth. Alternate urban centers will definitely prove a good idea. Rajgir can be a good starting point, though I am no judge in these matters. A state cannot develop in patches.
3. Traffic & Public Transport in Patna
The number of vehicles has increased while the existing roads can’t be widened any further, resulting in traffic jams everywhere. A good starting point can be removal of cycle rickshaws from the main roads. This proposal would be met with huge uproar. But if implemented will certainly ease up the traffic. Given that no elections are scheduled in a long time, now should be a very good time to take this step. Also a revamp of the bus services will help. The Indore model can certainly be one of the options.
4. Cleaner City
A lasting memory for anyone visiting Patna is of a paan-stained city; government offices, shopping complexes, roads everywhere it’s the same. I can’t suggest how to improve this though, except heavy fines.
Bihar has the lowest literacy rates in the country. And to aim for development, education of the masses is the very first step. And this has to done at all levels starting from the primary sections and not just by having an IIT or IIM in the state.
So these are my requests from the new government of Bihar. And I have written this blog because I have Faith. And to end, all I can say is Nitish Kumar would do well if he just remembers, “With Great Power comes Great Responsibility”
P.S. These are my personal views.
P.P.S. It seems funny to talk about change after having re-elected the incumbent government.