LAW AND ORDER, HEALTH ARE FOCUS AREAS
By Arun Srivastava
Performance of government, its outreach and initiatives matters but what is most important is the peoples’ perception of the government. It was perception of the Nitish led mahagathbandhan, of being peoples’ friendly and concerned of their aspirations that people voted it to power. But ironically after assuming power the grand alliance government has not made a serious move to consolidate it and make it the USP of the government.
Importance of the perception could be understood from the rout of the BJP in the assembly election. People perceived that the Prime Minister was following the RSS brief. Though it is too early to say that the Nitish government has not succeeded in coming up to the peoples’ perception within a period of fortnight, notwithstanding the chief minister Nitish Kumar personally has been trying to create the impression, the fact remains that the initial signs emanating from the secretariat do not augur well. The index of success of a government is the perception the government creates about its programmes, policies and development initiatives rather than by actual developmental work done.
Nitish inducting the two sons of Lalu Prasad in his cabinet has come as a real shock to the sympathizers and supporters of Nitish. For maintaining the Qualition-Dharma, the people point out, he should have inducted one only. But he was pressurized to induct the other too. Besides, in spite of the presence of a number of seasoned and able political administrators, Nitish designated Tejshwavi as the deputy chief minister. As if this was not enough his elder son Tej Pratap was made the health minister fully aware of the fact that the vested interests in health sector are quite strong and they even have the guts to challenge the diktat of the government. Health department has been the most notorious wing of the government. Medical mafia’s writ runs. People try to make out how could Tej Pratap a political green horn administer them?
Obviously Lalu will run the show from the wings. In fact just after Tej Pratap was sworn in, a delegation of the Bihar IMA called on Lalu. Fine. No one can object to the delegation meeting him. But why they did not call him during the last 10 years of the Nitish rule? What made to meet him only after his son was made the health minister? Was it a sign of sycophancy? The medical education and even premier government hospitals have been in mess. No successive ministers have succeeded in taming the doctors.
The fact is no government has the guts to make the doctors work. All efforts to improve the functioning of the government hospitals and medical colleges have proved to be futile. During last fortnight one of the glaring and inhuman incident has been doctor refusing to treat a six month old kid who eventually died at the gate of the hospital in the lap of his mother. The audacity of the doctors could be gauged from the Superintendent of the NMCH not finding any fault with the doctors. What was most audacious was the Superintendent of the NMCH questioning the logic behind the the minister Tej Pratap ordering an investigation into the incident .of denial of admission to the six day old infant who eventually died on the gate of the hospital. The parents of the infant belonged to the village under the constituency of the Tejshawi, the deputy chief minister. The hospital authorities have challenged the stand of the health ministry. Poor Tej Pratap is helplessly caught into the cross fire. He is finding it tough to take action against the doctor though after being sworn in, he had threatened with strict action against negligent doctors.
In the backdrop of these developments the people nurse the impression that Nitish was under pressure from RJD chief Lalu Prasad to facilitate the duo. The person who could have really become the number two in the cabinet was the RJD leader Abdul Bari Siddiqui. But he had to be content with being entrusted with finance portfolio.
Little doubt this first move of Nitish shook the trust level of the people though they feel that Chanakya of Bihar politics will not lose the control and grip on the administration. Despite Mahagathbandhan being a strong and stable alliance, for the verdict is decisive and no constituent would dare to wreck, it is explicit that it is political acumen of Nitish to solve the contradictions that would eventually decide the future of the government as there is a distinct difference in the political style and governance mode of Lalu and Nitish.
The performance of government on the law and order front is the primary index of success of the ruler and the orientation of the governance. The day Nitish took the charge of the chief minister for the fifth time, he cautioned the police to act in a meaningful manner and asked them to put a check on the crime. But it did not work. Intriguingly bank loots became a regular feature; every day at least one incident of murder in broad day took place; the criminals used AK 47; cases of rape ceased to stop. Exasperated Nitish again warned the police and in a major administrative initiative he made a number of changes of the police functionaries.
Nitish believes in giving a relatively free run to bureaucrats and officials. He sets the guidelines; he supervises at the macro level, he will not interfere, especially in law and order cases, but he ought to realize that in 2015 people have high expectations from him. He is being watched and judged. The confidence has shaken. He would have to repair the damage inflicted by the BJP and also reassert his authority. In the background of the lingering perception of Lalu’s interference in the government functioning, Nitish’s big challenge will be to keep the administration on track, even as he may not be able to exercise direct control over Lalu’s ministers.
The number of crimes committed in Bihar has been rising steadily since 2001, increasing from 32,500 levels to 56,000 in 2014. These crimes include murder, rape, riots, dacoity, kidnapping etc. According to the NCRB report on crimes against women, in Bihar, there was an increase of more than 21% in rapes and more than 16% in kidnappings in 2013, as compared to 2012. There were 1,128 rapes in 2013 and 927 in 2012. There were 4,419 kidnappings and abductions in 2013, as opposed to 3,789 in 2012.
Nevertheless Nitish cannot allow the present situation to perpetuate, for both his image and his national ambitions will become the victim of the perception of anarchy. It is said that Lalu is now a changed man. But it is yet to proved. No doubt he dislikes the reputation of creator of jungle raj but to erase this impression from the minds of people he would have to restrain himself. And here lies the success of Nitish how he manages to convince Lalu to reinvent him. Law and order situation has always been weak in Bihar. No political party will prefer rapes to increase. However it is the mindset, people’s mentality that needs to be changed. The matter of fact is Nitish will have to keep a watch on the civil administration and monitor its functioning. (IPA Service)