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Rat-and-grouse game

The recent rat attack on Nitish Kumar makes us wonder whether Bihar’s still plagued by its past
Hindustan Times | By HT Correspondent
UPDATED ON MAY 03, 2010 11:39 PM IST

Our very own ‘town of Hamelin’, the state of Bihar, needs a piper in mottled gear. With Chief Minister Nitish Kumar continuing to do a commendable job, we don’t use this image of the pied piper metaphorically. It turns out that Mr Kumar, during his ongoing campaign tours in the state before the assembly elections, was bitten by a rat on Saturday evening. Again, we don’t mean a metaphorical rodent with hirsute ears but a very real rat from Real India.

The act of violence against the chief minister reportedly took place when Mr Kumar was retiring after a strenuous day — that saw an irate mob pelt his cavalcade with stones — at a circuit house in the state’s Sitamarhi district. A doctor was called to tend to the wound and provide the necessary anti-tetanus shot, along with a painkiller and antibiotics.

But even as Mr Kumar went on his way the next day to Muzaffarpur wearing a noticeable bandage on his finger, an anti-State rat was still out there waiting to take on more of India’s body politic.

Bihar, over the years, has tried — rather successfully — to shake off the pestilence of the past. It’s yet to regain its
status as a leading state in the comity of the nation, but since developmental schemes have been shunted out of the quagmire of caste politics, at least the dubious tag of being the frontrunner in the ‘Bimaru’ stakes is eroding. The rat attack on the head of Bihar’s government, in this context, is a painful reminder of the state’s recent past and the job that still needs to be done. As for the political roadblocks that are made to come in the way of Mr Kumar and his attempts to bring prosperity to Bihar, we smell a rat. And we mean that metaphorically, not literally at all.

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