On Monday, October 19, in a general election, the Canadian voters threw out Stephen Harper, the Conservative Party Prime Minister for two terms (nine years). According to the majority of Canadians, Stephen Harper, going into his second term, had become very overbearing. He enforced his conservative policies, slashed down social services programs, favored wealthy to become more rich, denied environmental problems and suppressed dissent not only from the academic or scientific community but also within his own party.

"All politics is local," Tip O'Neill, the former U.S. Speaker of the House of Representatives, is reputed to have once observed.

In the context of the ongoing Bihar Vidhan Sabha election also, the politics depends on what the pulls and pressures are in each constituency. From a distance, it’s difficult to gauge the public mood and therefore the voting trend. Even the reporters on the ground send mixed signals.

In less than a week Bihar embarks upon electing its Vidhan Sabha legislators who will be the custodians of the state’s fate for the next five years. The Yadavs, with their 14% share in the electorate, are the most coveted constituency for any political party or alliance. Together with the Muslims, it is claimed; they can again write the horoscope of Bihar. Politicians and pundits all emphasize the intrinsic socio-political strength of this caste that belongs to the Other Backward Caste (OBCs) category.

Born in 1968, Arvind Kejriwal must have been six year old when the Bihar student movement led by Jay Prakash Narayan in 1974 catapulted into an all India anti-corruption movement leading to the imposition of national Emergency on June the 25th, 1975. So, he must have learnt about the epoch-making events like the first 1967 Samyukta Vidhayak Dal (non-Congress coalition) governments in states or the great split of the Congress Party in 1969 or the 1974-77 movement either from the history books or the teachers or from members in his family.

Bihar has been a seat of learning since the ancient times. “Shashtrartha,” that is, churning the books of knowledge, has always been a tradition of Bihar. Wherever you have an ambiance of learning, there’s a climate of tolerance; a willingness to understand as well as appreciate others’ points of view. Biharis have debated a lot, they may appear to be bickering but they listen to others respectfully. That tradition is in the danger of deteriorating fast.