Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Patna Durbar : Mail today : Giridhar Jha

Massacre a daunting challenge for Nitish

THE KHAGARIA massacre which claimed the lives of 16 people, including five minors, last week has thrown up the biggest challenge to chief minister Nitish Kumar’s rule yet. In his relatively ‘ peaceful’ tenure of four years in a caste- conscious state, his government has not had to deal with a conflict which caused the loss of so many lives.

Nitish has categorically ruled out the involvement of the Moists in the carnage on the basis of the preliminary inquiry of a probe team. He said it was the handiwork of “ local antisocials” who were fighting for supremacy in the area.

But that precisely makes the task of his government all the more difficult. It raises the fears of reprisal killings which have been Bihar’s bane in the past. A majority of the carnage victims — 14 to be precise — belonged to Nitish’s caste while the alleged perpetrators of the crime were said to be from a Mahadalit community.

The Mahadalits have always figured high on the chief minister’s all- inclusive development agenda. He has taken pains to launch a slew of welfare schemes for the “ Dalits among the Dalits” to bring them into the mainstream of society.

During his tenure, Nitish has paid special attention to ameliorating the lot of the Mahadalits so as to consolidate his base among them. By initiating a number of schemes exclusive for them, he apparently wants to make a dent into the vote bank of his rivals like Ram Vilas Paswan. In fact, his strategy appears to have paid off if one goes by the results of the last few elections in the state.

Nitish will have to tread with caution while dealing with the political situation arising out of the Khagaria massacre. On the one hand, he cannot afford to antagonise his fellow caste men who have been by his side through thick and thin. On the other hand, he has to continue working for the Mahadalits to retain their support in the next assembly elections.

Nitish has responded to the demands of the tricky situation quickly, though. He has suspended the Khagaria SP and DSP for alleged dereliction of duty and expressed his resolve to bring the culprits to book through speedy trial. The state police have already arrested the alleged mastermind behind the carnage and are claiming to have cracked the case on the basis of his interrogation.

As Nitish has often demonstrated in the past, he would like the law to take its own course in this case as well. At the same time, he has to see to it that there are no reprisal killings in the wake of the Khagaria massacre.

During the Rashtriya Janata Dal regime in the 1990s, Bihar had witnessed one massacre after another on account of the revenge factor.

After working relentlessly for the turnaround of the state, Nitish cannot afford to let Bihar slip back into the morass of bloody caste strife, undoing all his good work. As expected of him, he has to display the “ raj dharma ( duty of a ruler)” by punishing the perpetrators of the crime regardless of caste, community or political considerations.

If you must visit Patna do it now

THE season of festivals is the best time to be in Patna. The city remains illuminated with colourful lights, roads are cleaned and garbage heaps removed. Volunteers of different puja organising committees start taking interest in the cleanliness of their localities. The civic authorities also wake up from their deep slumber to spruce up the state capital.

Anybody visiting Patna during this season is bound to notice a striking difference in the look and feel of the city that remains one of the dirtiest state capitals in the country for the rest of the year.

The festival season kick starts every year with the Vishwakarma Puja in September and concludes with the Chhath festival towards late October or early November. The decoration of pandals during Durga Puja is tastefully done.

But Patna is at its best during the Chhath puja.

Apart from the common man, the district administration and the Patna Municipal Corporation also chip in by cleaning up the banks of the river Ganga where lakhs of devotees take a holy dip.

It is the only time of the year when you do not see mounds of stinking garbage and filth by the roadside. Unfortunately, the same people fail to show this spirit once the festivals are over.

EVEN nine years after the creation of Jharkhand, many in Bihar continue to rue the ‘ partition’ of the state. They feel that Bihar lost more than just minerals which went to the new state. One of its prized assets was the famous Netarhat residential school which was the nursery of some of the brightest talents from the state. The performance of its students used to be a matter of envy for other schools in the region.

Though the Bihar government subsequently tried to set up a similar school, it failed. Now, the Nitish Kumar government is serious about setting up a Netarhat- like school at Simultalla in Jamui district. It is seeking the help of the Netarhat Old Boys Association and hopes to realise its dream in the next academic session itself. It has asked a central government agency to prepare a detailed project report for the school.

A team of the old boys’ association along with state human resource department personnel visited the proposed site recently.

Courtsey : http://www.mailtoday.in/