Faced with high public expectation of result-oriented growth in the backward state, the government has given an entirely new dimension to the traditional concept of local area development.
Instead of the old system of staggered and routine initiation of small development projects in rural areas, a large number of them are being clubbed and inaugurated by the Chief Minister as ‘mega packages’ for the concerned districts, one after another.
The practical twist to the ongoing ground-level development story may have served fine, but it is too discernible to be missed. It started with Nalanda, the home district of CM Nitish Kumar, which had the pride of having the biggest developmental package of more than Rs 650 crore so far.
The latest in the list is Siwan, where 1060 schemes were clubbed to take the amount to Rs 369 crore. Begusarai preceded it, where the CM launched schemes worth Rs 470 crore on Wednesday. In between, Bhagalpur, Madhepura, Chapra, Shiekhpura, etc also got their shot of the developmental dose.
In a state that has a penchant for grand things the government, under opposition’s flak for lack of ‘visible’ signs of development, has thus temporarily succeeded in satiating people’s aspiration for action on the ground by bundling a large number of local projects. Such packages sound and also appear huge for small districts.
Moreover, it has succeeded in buying time for the much needed ‘gestation period’ for the mega State-level projects, often required, for taking concrete shape. But this success has also raised the hackles of opposition, which is burning midnight oil to lay a finger on the political intent behind it.
The Congress, which is trying to occupy the opposition space, is not too pleased. It accused the government of using central funds to its advantage, that too, for political gains in Nalanda and Bhagalpur, when the two constituencies were going to face parliamentary by poll.
Though the dishevelled Opposition would fight shy to admit, the victory in Nalanda was never in doubt. But the pattern behind the choice of districts reveals a lot than it hides.
By selecting districts like Madhepura and Chapra, the ruling party has taken the fight into known bastions of the previous regime to initiate voters to its development plank, fortify its presence and also silence critics.
Interestingly, as a ruling party insider admits, while the move has buttressed Nitish Kumar’s image, who has been moving from district to district to redeem his pre-poll pledge, it has, at the same time, challenged the role of local public representatives and taken away an opportunity for the plaudits that could have entailed.
BPCC chief Sadanand Singh says, "The CM is misleading the people and trying to buy time by appropriating credit for Centre-sponsored schemes."
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