Is it okay to hope that 'jungle raj' will not return to Bihar?

pankaj

Pankaj Kumar | November 20, 2015



The raja is back in Bihar with a new partner. Today, Nitish Kumar was sworn in as the chief minister of Bihar for the fifth time, with Lalu Prasad Yadav and Rahul Gandhi as partners.

After breaking with BJP, Nitish Kumar took on prime minister Narendra Modi with all kinds of accusations like riots of 2002 in Gujarat. And today the irony cannot be lost that Nitish Kumar is keeping company of Lalu Prasad, who has been accused of allowing jungle raj to flourish in Bihar. 

Someone who grew up in Bihar in times when lawlessness was the defining feature of the state rule, I have better reasons to be apprehensive.  All through nineties, insecurity spread by the criminal elements with the patronage of those in power, was everyday reality in Bihar.

In the 15 years Lalu-Rabri rule , lawlessness was institutionalized. Bihar became the metaphor for badland. A whole generation seemed to have lost the plot, became deviant or migrated out of the state.

No one was safe. Murders, rapes and kidnappings were a daily occurrence in the state. The stories like brothers in law of Lalu Prasad competing with each other and showing their access to power by stopping Rajdhani trains or by beating or threatening officers, are now part of the state folklore.

Who can forget notorious criminals like Shahabuddin of Siwan Sunil Pande, Anant Singh, Ramdular Yadav, Pappu Yadav and Anand Mohan.

Brij Bihari singh a minister was killed in the heart of capital while he was getting treatment in the Patna Medical college and murderers were able to flee as if there was no law in the state. Kidnapping had become so common that school going children were always unsafe even in the heart of capital. Mothers used to be restless if children were few minutes late coming to home.

Last night, my fears again shook me, even though I am far away Bihar.  While randomly surfing through the television, I caught up with Nana Patekar and Ajay Devgan in their movie ‘Apaharan’. Patekar plays a role of underworld leader and head of a large kidnapping racket. He is told by his brother that Ajay Shastri, his new recruit ( played by Devgan ) cannot be trusted as he is a son of Gandhian Professor Shastri.

Patekar replies, " ab kaha kisi ka beta raaha (Now he is no more anyone's son).

The subtlety of the repartee by Patekar had a grave irony. It reflected and told the story of a generation that lost on many counts. It told the story of state where one the biggest trade was illegal activity of kidnapping and the biggest aspiration of misguided youth to be part of that business.

I only wonder why we are silent and comfortable in spite of the fact that the man largely responsible for this dark age is back on throne. May be communalism is a more disturbing element than lawlessness. Is that so?

May be Nitish knows how to rein in Lalu Prasad.  I just hope that Bihar of today does not slip into the Bihar of those days which inspired filmmakers to make movies of the badlands. I hope, the two young sons of Lalu Prasad  (Tejaswi and Tej Pratap) will take the politics of Bihar to a new level where focus would be on development. They claim to learn politics since childhood as a legacy but I am hoping that they will prove me wrong and take up the agenda of upliftment of Bihar.

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