100 days of Nitish-led NDA govt in Bihar: Gap between promise & delivery widening

Nitish Kumar walked out of the mahagathbandhan with the RJD and Congress in July to join hands with the BJP.

patna Updated: Nov 04, 2017 17:41 IST
Vijay Swaroop
Vijay Swaroop
Hindustan Times, Patna
Nitish Kumar,Janata Dal (United),Rashtriya Janata Dal
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar during 142nd birth anniversary celebration of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in Patna on Tuesday. (PTI)

The Nitish Kumar-led NDA government in Bihar is all set to complete its 100 days in office, in what is Kumar’s second innings of power sharing with the BJP. Sadly, the first quarter of the second innings, despite tall claims to the contrary, has been lacklustre.

The government, which was formed on July 27 in a dramatic turn of events, has been bogged down by events, which do not fully agree with the proclaimed image of chief minister Nitish Kumar, as a forward looking administrator.

Good governance and people’s expectations

When Kumar walked out of the Grand Alliance (GA) of the JD(U)-RJD and Congress to join hands with the BJP, people’s expectations had soared. For, they thought that Kumar and deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi, having combined very well from 2005 to 2013, would once again provide better governance. Kumar tried to pass on this message in a series of meetings with the police brass and the bureaucracy in general. He also started holding departmental review meetings, going through the nitty-gritty. But has all this paid off?

Deputy chief minister Modi feels that same alliance being in office at the Centre and in the state, has proved beneficial. “The development package announced for Bihar by the Prime Minister is being implemented. Bihar is well on course to progress,” said Modi.

This is the first time in two decades that the same alliance is in power at the Centre and in the state. The last time this happened was in 1997 when Lalu Prasad ruled Bihar and Inder Kumar Gujral was heading a Janata Dal government in New Delhi.

However, the opposition disagrees. “Kumar has been doing review meetings and organising yatras regularly. But it has no meaning. He held review meetings even in Bhagalpur. Yet, the Srijan scam took place,” pointed out RJD national vice president Shivanand Tiwary.

Yet, one positive change is there for all to see. The bonhomie within the government has returned. “The cabinet meetings and discussions have become lively, which was not the case during the Grand Alliance time, when the chief minister seemed to be under sever pressure from allies,” said a JD(U) minister.

Modi feels, in the last three months, the state faced the biggest challenge of floods. “For close to 40 days, we kept fighting floods. The state government rose to expectations and with the Centre’s backing, provided relief to all affected families,” he claims.

Tiwary counters. “Where is good governance? The common man is feeling the pinch of corruption.” he said.

Srijan Scam

The biggest blot came in the form of the Srijan scam, which hit Kumar’s image and briefly rocked his government. The scam involved the fraudulent transfer of hundreds of crore rupees of government funds into the accounts of the Srijan Mahila Sahyog Samiti, an NGO, between 2004 and 2014.

The detection of the scam gave the opposition an opportunity to target the government. “How can Kumar escape responsibility for the scam? After all, he was the chief minister when the scam happened,” said Tiwary, the RJD leader.

“It is not the question of just one scam. The NDA rule has been marked by a series of scams and financial misappropriations — such as the Mahadalit fund scam, SC/ST scholarship scam, financial bungling in school dress scheme, to name a few,” he added.

The Seven Resolves

On taking office, as CM Nitish Kumar had announced ‘7 resolves’ (saat nischay) that his government would follow as a state policy. The state planned to provide road connectivity and drainage, toilets in all houses, clean drinking water and electricity to all, improve higher education, ensure skill development leading to employment and woman empowerment.

But things do not seem to be working in the right direction as far as implementation of the resolves is concerned. According to July rankings issued by the Bihar Vikas Mission for all the districts, on implementation of the programme, only 10 out of 38 districts have scored 40% or above marks.

Patna, the state capital, has got 37.22% marks while Saharsa lies at the bottom of the table with 27.41% marks.

Despite earnest attempts, non-availability of funds has also hampered the release of tenders for large infrastructure projects and this delay is beginning to cause frustration within the government.

“Nothing is moving even though Kumar has left GA,” said Tiwary.

With crime once again being under some control, Kumar’s thrust on social reforms have earned him some brownie points. He first introduced prohibition and now has started a campaign against dowry and child marriage.

But, the state government was on the back foot after the recent hooch tragedy in Rohtas district leading to the death of four and continued seizure of liquor in different parts of the state. “The whole prohibition exercise has turned into a farce,” said Tiwary.

Unfortunately, the gap between promise and delivery is widening.

First Published: Nov 04, 2017 17:41 IST