Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party-led alliance headed for a defeat in the Bihar assembly polls on Sunday, signalling the declining influence of a party that stormed to power at the Centre in last year’s general elections.
While exit polls were split ahead of the results, the counting of votes showed the Nitish Kumar-led grand alliance leaving the BJP-led coalition far behind and establishing a clear majority.
As the grand alliance prepares itself to rule Bihar, here are five things the common man wants from the next government in one of the most backward states in the country:
Law and order
“Whichever party forms the government, it should first take up the issue of law and order. The situation is bad here and needs immediate attention,” said JK Pandey, a government employee based in Patna.
Mohammed Shakeel Alam, a fruit vendor near Gandhi Maidan, said: “People come to collect ‘rangdari’ (extortion money). Policemen beat us up every few days for setting up our stalls.”
According to official records, crimes rate in Bihar has gone up in the past one year. The number of crimes against women has also risen steadily. During its rule, the Lalu Prasad government was accused of not controlling the worsening law and order situation – widely referred to as ‘jungle raj’.
“We have voted for the benefit of the Biharis. So far, we have been exploited by the Bihar government and the Centre. We want development of Biharis. Not just roads and electricity, we also need development in terms of education and law and order,” said Sukesh, who works for the IDBI Bank in Patna.
While the elections were fought bitterly, the parties also promised to bring development in the state. Modi, whose party lost out to the grand alliance, repeatedly promised to shower the state with development projects and jobs.
Watch | Bihar Elections: What we want from the new government?
“The education system needs to get better,” Pandey said as he walked out of the Gandhi Maidan on early on Sunday.
Bihar needs 200,000 teachers to reach a teacher-student ratio of 1:30 (RTE recommended) from the present 1:39. Fifty-five percent of teaching jobs in colleges and universities are currently vacant.
“When the education system gets better, more youth, who need to progress, will get jobs,” Pandey added. About 200 million people, or a fourth of Bihar’s electorate, currently need jobs.
Ramji Singh, who drives rental cabs, said: “We want the new government to give us food and jobs, so the state can progress.”
Decrease in food prices
“The situation of rising food prices needs to be improved. With the prices coming down, even the most ordinary citizen can have satisfactory meals. Only when these improvements happen will Bihar progress,” Pandey said.
Its political opponents have repeatedly attacked the BJP at the Centre for increasing prices of pulses. “In March, crop estimate report showed huge decline in dal production but they waited till Jun to act,” Congress leader Ahmed Patel recently tweeted.