Sunday, April 13, 2014

Tough task at hand on home turf for Nitish

Nitish with FM Chidambaram in Nalanda (File Photo:IE)

Patna: Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has a tough task at hand on home turf Nalanda. On test, in the constituency, is not only his personal popularity, but also his credibility as chief minister. If the protests at his rallies and the lack of enthusiasm among party workers are any indicator, he could be in for a shocker in the parliamentary polls. Nalanda goes to polls on 17 April. 

Nitish's clout in the central Bihar constituency has never been in question earlier. It has not elected any leader against his wishes in the past 18 years. This time things look different though. The common voters are openly accusing him of being discriminatory in the launch of development works and giving more attention to non-important issues than focusing on development of the region. To make matters worse, the brother-in-law of the JD(U) candidate and sitting MP Kaushlendra Kumar is openly campaigning for the Congress candidate. 

Nitish had earned laurels when he handpicked a loyal grass-root party worker Kaushlendra to contest from the Nalanda seat during the 2009 LS polls. The allotment of party ticket to a common worker like him had in way also deflated widespread criticism of Nitish who denied a ticket to senior leader George Fernandes. But in the last few months, the general mood has turned against both Nitish and the sitting parliamentarian. 

"Nobody wants to serve us. They appear during polls with folded hands and vanish soon after winning elections. Enough is enough," said Shankar Prasad of Nalanda. 

The problem is not only over lack of development work in the district of Bihar’s very own "development hero" but also over the way everything has gone to Nitish’s native village of Kalyan Bigha. This village has just everything — a referral hospital, Industrial Training Institute (ITI), a high school, an SBI branch and also an indoor shooting range. That is addition to well laid-out pucca road connecting the village with the nearest railway station or the main road and electricity facility. The excessive focus on one village has left the less privileged villages around angry. 

"Our village does not have any facility but go to Kalyan Bigha and see for yourself what development means?" asks another villager from Nalanda, Manjit Kumar, a farmer. Another villager questions the launch of ambulance facility while no road exists in the village. "We have the facility to call ambulance over phone but there is no road," asks Jamil Ansari of Noorsarai. 

Yet development still remains an issue at least in Nalanda and a larger section of his castemen still praise Nitish for giving pace to the development works in his tenure. Apart from development, Nitish also banks on the support of his caste men but the problem is that the vote polarisation has gone quite stronger soon after the BJP raked up contentious issue of construction of Ram temple at Ayodhya. 

While the issue had not been raised, a section of Muslims, especially intellectual and educated class, was debating about "trying" the BJP once but the sudden surfacing of temple ghost has virtually spoiled party’s good chances. Now the Muslim class people are just no mood to entertain Narendra Modi and are deeply searching for a potential candidate from "secular" parties who could defeat the NDA candidate. 

"In all probability, Congress-RJD is the better option for the Muslims as they do not to want waste their votes by going for Nitish’s candidate which would mean a victory for NDA candidate owing to split in minority votes," said an political analyst. 

That the battle is tough ahead has been admitted by Nitish more than once. The chief minister has repeatedly gone on telling the masses at his election rallies that he will not compromise with principle even if his party does not win a single seat in the elections. 

"Will the world come to a standstill if my party loses elections?" asked chief minister at a function last week. The talk of defeat on the part of Nitish even though five phases of polling are still left in Bihar is quite puzzling to experts. 

No comments:

Post a Comment