In Week 1 at the head of new coalition, Nitish Kumar is putting Bihar back on track
The Bihar chief minister has already started making efforts to reap maximum benefits of his improved relation with the Centre.
As the initial dust settles over an acrimonious split the Rashtriya Janata Dal, there is a growing sense of approval among Bihar’s aam admi, political circles, bureaucracy as well as independent observers about Nitish’s decision to dump the Mahagathbandhan and join hands with the BJP. Though there is also a view that he has been “opportunistic”, a stronger undercurrent runs across Bihar about the “sacrifices” he has made by giving up the image as a strong political contender at the national level to focus on the state’s development.
In the first five days in office, Nitish called two cabinet meetings, almost a dozen review meetings and made a number of decisions underlying his priorities — the first and foremost being his agenda of ‘vikas’ for Bihar. It is also one that is more in consonance with Narendra Modi’s slogan and Nitish has to prove that the earlier combination was more of an impediment than a boost for the agenda to be translated in to actions.
He is already doing that. The CM spent 16 to 18 hours on each of the past five days, working out plans to “rejuvenate” old schemes and projects, gear up the bureaucracy and effectively implement GST. In that, he is conveying the message that the idea of vikas was got derailed during the earlier regime and that he wanted to put it back on a fast track. The diminishing crowd and fading voice of protests from the RJD show how the balance is swinging fast in his favour.
Collapse of governance, senior officials and observers said, was an equally important reason as corruption that forced Nitish to find a way out of the alliance with the RJD.
“The RJD ministers made a mockery of governance … Several projects and schemes were stalled. There was no transfer-posting happening.
Lalu’s henchman Sahabuddin returned and insulted the CM,” said Shaibal Gupta, the founder membersecretary of the Asian Development Research Institute in Patna. “He sacrificed his national image and became a provincial leader for the sake of Bihar,” said Gupta, who is known to be very close to the CM.
In the past week, Nitish has given top priority also to tighten his grip over the administration and ensure the benefits of his schemes are delivered to the ground level. He has shifted 28 IAS and 42 IPS officers. Six districts got new district magistrates. “It almost took full 20-month to see him in his natural form as an administrator.
During his stay in grand alliance, he was engaged more in his political tasks than the administrative works,” a source in the government said.
His cabinet colleagues from the BJP said the CM is busy fixing the problems in governance.
Of the 12 BJP cabinet ministers in Bihar, at least eight are fresh faces. “We all are trying to put the government on track. It was completely out of gear. The CM has called for a special session. He will announce some major decisions, too,” said PWD minister Nand Kishore Yadav.