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    Bihar minister's resignation is another case of Nitish Kumar’s dipping graph on anti-graft fight

    Synopsis

    Contrary to popular perception - especially outside Bihar - that Nitish Kumar has a stellar record in terms of controlling corruption and ensuring good law and order, the state has performed badly according to available data. He has got away, arguably, as the RJD rule was worse.

    Agencies
    The unsavoury start to Nitish Kumar’s new term as chief minister of Bihar where his education minister Mewa Lal Choudhary had to resign under opposition pressure due to graft charges against him shows the JDU-BJP government cannot falter on the good governance front.

    The opposition, which is just a whisker away from the majority mark, is not going to sit easy and complacent in the coming five years in Bihar. If Tejwashi Yadav, who has impressed with his election campaign, spends more time in the state and the Assembly in the coming months, Kumar will find himself on the edge often.

    Contrary to popular perception - especially outside Bihar - that Nitish Kumar has a stellar record in terms of controlling corruption and ensuring good law and order, the state has performed badly according to available data. He has got away, arguably, as the RJD rule was worse.

    Mewa Lal Choudhary was made education minister despite the fact that he is out on bail in a recruitment scam. As Vice Chancellor of Bihar Agriculture University, Sabaur in Bhagalpur district, he was allegedly involved in corruption in hiring 166 assistant professors and junior scientists.

    BJP’s claim now that they too had pressurised Kumar to ask Choudhary to step down does not wash as it was Sushil Kumar Modi who had filed the case against him in 2017. Choudhary belongs to the Kushwaha community, a caste JDU-BJP are trying to court since Upendra Kushwaha-led RLSP walked out of the NDA.

    People often allege that there is corruption in the lower rungs of the bureaucracy.

    In his previous term, Kumar’s Social Justice Minister Manju Varma had to resign after she and her husband Chandrashekhar were named in the Muzaffarpur girls shelter home sexual exploitation case. Kumar had still given her a ticket this time though she lost by over 40,000 votes from the Cheria Beriarpur seat.

    NCRB data shows that in 2018 there was a 15 per cent rise in crime against women in Bihar.

    According to Association of Democratic Reforms data, eight of the 14 ministers in Nitish Kumar’s new cabinet face criminal charges. Of these, six face serious criminal charges- two each from BJP and JDU and one each from HAM and VIP.

    Though it was LJP leader Chirag Paswan who questioned Kumar’s “Saath Nischay (seven pledges)” and alleged there was wrongdoing in their implementation, RJD is also likely to raise this issue in the coming days.

    Bihar politics is caste-ridden and voters have turned a blind eye to cases against candidates from their community. Babubalis are known to win elections by big margins, a prime example being Anant Singh who won from Mokama, getting 53 per cent of the votes. He had quit JDU in 2015 and contested on a RJD ticket this time.

    However, corruption has been a deciding factor and is one of the big reasons for the ouster of Lalu Prasad government. The fodder scam, along with poor law and order, during RJD rule is still fresh in the minds of the people.

    The last government of Nitish Kumar does not have an impressive law and order record, Kumar imposed prohibition in the state in 2016 with an eye on women votes but bootlegging is rampant in Bihar. Law and order may be better than during RJD rule, but NCRB figures show the gap is not wide.

    As per NCRB stats, the crime rate in Bihar was at 122.4 per lakh population in 2004, the last year of Rabri Devi-led RJD government. In 2019, it was 164.8 per lakh population, a jump of 34.6 percentage in the last 15 years.

    Good governance is Nitish Kumar’s USP and has helped him get votes and support from people cutting across caste lines, especially in some of the urban areas. It has helped him win four terms and made him the face of NDA. If this image is dented, Kumar will be left with nothing much to woo the masses.
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    8 Comments on this Story

    Vivek Sonbhadra68 days ago
    Nitish Kumar's party must have got ten-fifteen seats more but Chirag Paswan's party came into the way. Then , Nitish Kumar would have faced lesser questions and challenges? However, it is true that he has become vulnerable due to lesser number of seats. It was a self goal for NDA, courtesy LJP.
    Vivek Sonbhadra68 days ago
    Corruption is still not an issue in Bihar. Bhagalpur was the area of Srijan Ghotala. Mr. Nitish Kumar built his image through construction of roads, improvement of law and order, power to women in Panchayti Raj, Cycles and uniform to girl students, prohibition (especially in the mind of women) and last but not the least his personal integrity. Improvement of law and order was noticeable in his first term and to some extent in second term but not after. Casteism and the so called secularism are common to his party and RJD. Corruption is an all pervasive but not me affair.
    rajeev kumar68 days ago
    corruption is at its peak. crime is controlled only in newspapers because of fear of cut in advertisement revenue, sale of illegal liquor is the major source of earnings for many including the police department. Nitish ji cannot turn a blind eye on these issues
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