Thursday, 14 November 2019

Bad Days, Bad News

Updated: September 25, 2015 12:00 am

Nitish Kumar, Chief Minister of Bihar, is known for his arrogance. Now with state elections starting next month and surveys suggesting he is on his way out, we thought his sense of self-superiority will come down a few notches. But no, Nitish remains as arrogant as ever. He recently said, “If I don’t win, I won’t be a loser, the state of Bihar will be the loser.” A stunned silence followed.

Before this when he was addressing a large rally of temporary teachers, Nitish reportedly got angry over the teachers demanding to be made permanent. He allegedly said to them, “You better know if you continue to behave like this I will go back and sign the dismissal of all of you.”

He is either a brave man or has gone bonkers due to arrogance. Remember the old saying, vinash kale viparit buddhi. My assessment that he is losing his marbles could be due to a very negative report. He had launched much-hyped ‘Har ghar dastak’ (knock on every door), the connect with the masses programme of the Janata Dal United. But it brought home worrying messages for Nitish Kumar.

JDU workers fanned out into the districts for a survey on how the voters perceived Nitish’s party and his performance. The questionnaire they carried contained four simple questions:

  1. Has Bihar seen development and change in the last ten years?
  2. Did you and those around you benefit from development and change?
  3. Do you think this change was made possible by Nitish Kumar?
  4. Will you like to elect Nitish Kumar as Chief Minister again?

Given the weakness of the JD(U) organisation structure, party workers couldn’t have knocked every door, but whatever number they notched up was enough to give their bosses furrowed brows.The response to the first question was overwhelmingly positive. Around 80 per cent respondents said that they had seen development and change in the last decade.

The responses to the next two questions—did you benefit from development and did Nitish make it possible—were also very positive, in the high sixties. But the bottom fell out of the survey when they fourth question—will you re-elect Nitish—came up.

The percentage fell drastically. The scientific contradiction in the survey—wherein respondents directly credit Nitish for development and change but don’t want to see him return as Chief Minister—is a political reality that he is having to grapple with following his electoral embrace with Lalu Yadav. There is a strong recoil from Nitish supporters against the tie-up with Lalu because electing Nitish is electing Lalu who stands for caste divisions and lawlessness. Lalu has not helped by harping on Mandal II in his election speeches.

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