Until a few years ago, Nerul-based banker Gajendra Narayan knew fellow Biharis who would lie that they came from Delhi because they felt awkward introducing themselves as Biharis. Not any more.
“Ever since Bihar got Nitish Kumar, the perception of the state has changed, especially in the eyes of non-Biharis,” Narayan said. His take on the election results that Bihar threw up on Wednesday morning: “This was something we expected and desired.”
From Narayan to Ramkhilawan Prasad, who works as casual labour on a housing project in Dockyard, there is excitement among city Biharis on the Janata Dal (United) leader being re-elected chief minister of Bihar.
Prasad, who is among thousands of migrants who have come to Mumbai in search of a better life, said: “Things have improved back home. Kumar’s leadership has renewed the hope that a better future can be created in Bihar.”
Filmmaker and businessman Prakash Jha, who had contested the 2009 Lok Sabha elections from Bihar, said Nitish’s victory was a “foregone conclusion”. “He worked hard to get and create a vote bank solely as a result of his development-oriented politics,” Jha said.
Actor Shekhar Suman, who is from Bihar, said the Kumar’s re-election was “the best thing that could have happened to Bihar”.
“Under Nitish’s rule, Bihar has progressed rapidly. The fact that he got re-elected is people’s reaffirmation of their faith in him,” Suman said.
Most city Biharis believe the outcome of the polls in their home state will have little impact on Mumbai. “Many feel that this will put an end to the migration to the city,” Prasad said.
“It’s not going to have that effect immediately, but in a few years, the people of Bihar may not have to migrate. My children may not have to follow my footsteps like I followed my father’s.”
James Fontanella-Khan, a British journalist, who is studying the issue of migration into Mumbai, agreed. “By developing one of the poorest faces of India, it’s obvious that in a few years, there will be fewer people coming to Mumbai. What is good for Bihar is also good for India and, subsequently, for Mumbai.”