Below are the unedited excerpts from the Facebook pages of two abiding friends since our JNU years in the 80’s. Kumar Narendra Singh and Ranjan Sharma are originally from Bihar and now settled down in their professional lives in New Delhi. We may not agree on everything but we have a lot of respect for each other’s views. Anxieties and concerns of friends like them should mean a lot to us. We are away from Bihar but Bihar is always within us.
Nitish Kumar, the Bihar CM, once compared Narendra Modi, the Indian Premier to Donald Trump then fighting a primary contest to secure nomination of the Republican Party for the presidency of the United States. That spoke volume about the limits of Nitish’s understanding of either the persona of Donald Trump or the US politics.
Even a novice understands the politics behind throwing a sumptuous Iftaar feast by Nitish Kumar at his official residence as the Chief Minister of Bihar. He’s not the only politician to have done so. The Congress CMs, and his foe-turned-mentor Lalu before him, had routinely hosted Iftaar or Eid-ul-Fitra party at the conclusion of the holy month of Ramazan. The leaders of the BJP, a party reputed as unfriendly to Muslims also break bread with the Muslim invitees on this occasion.
Right after the Indian Independence (1947), the standard of education in Bihar was at par with what the Britishers had set out during their regime. Passing matriculation exam, with its emphasis on math and English, was tough. There used to be a category of dropouts called “Matric Fail” and just for making through the high school to the Matric Board exam, the candidates were regarded in the society as educated people. They would get lower level but respectable jobs.
In Bihar today, there's a dire need for every one -- who can recognize and speak up the truth - to stand together on one platform. You have to identify the problems before they can be addressed.
I had learnt a long time ago that nothing should surprise in politics. Yet, I was shocked and dismayed to see that an eminent lawyer and a national public figure of your stature would approach a politician like Lalu Yadav to stay in the Rajya Sabha.
Last year and the year before (2014 and 2015), I was at my hometown, Darbhanga, Bihar on the festive days of Holi and Ram-Navami. I had a chance to see up close the consumption of alcohol and abuse of the auspicious celebration of Ram-Navami in the Bihari society.
After Delhi and Mumbai, another show of the launch of Shatrughan Sinha’s biography was organized in his home town Patna on March 18th. The function was apparently marked by a complete absence of any BJP personality from the state. It seemed clear either Shatru had ignored all of them or the BJP functionaries boycotted his event. The bad blood is obvious.
Indians in large number voted Narendra Modi, and the BJP, to power in 2014 because they were fed up with the corrupt, dynastic and paralyzed governments of the UPA. Majority of Indians not affiliated to any political party perhaps preferred to see Indian democracy taking on the shape of a two-party system like in Britain, the USA or elsewhere. Since India is a very diverse country, the two major competing parties had to be coalitions of scores of ideologies, persuasions or aspirations.
Bihar has just experienced enough of rough political weather during the 2015 Vidhan Sabha election. A number of allegations, counter-allegations, lies and fabrications were thrown around to win the votes, thereby creating deep social divisions and mutual suspicion. The election is over. Now, please don’t bring in more woes to add further to the agony of Bihar by playing out the politics of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union on its soil.
During the election campaign for the Bihar Vidhan Sabha (2015), two prominent fears were expressed against the Nitish-Lalu-Congress alliance. They seemed to be coming true within weeks of the formation of the Mahagathbandhan government. The first was that the capitulation of Nitish Kumar to Lalu Yadav would weaken his government and re-introduce lawlessness as was horribly experienced in the 90’s. The second was that the long-time foes Nitish and Lalu, or their surrogates, would start bickering right after they were able to form the government together. In both cases, Bihar would suffer immensely.
When criticized for the US setbacks in Iraq and Afghanistan, Donald Rumsfeld, the former Defense Secretary, once angrily burst out: “You go to war with the army you have -- not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time.”
Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia, the socialist ideologue of both Lalu Yadav and Nitish Kumar, had famously said: “A live nation doesn’t wait for five years.” What he meant was that people had the right to revolt and throw out the government for good reasons without waiting for its five-year term to be over.