'What I want is not for the elected to tell me what they did in the 1990s or for the past 5 years,' says A Bihari Abroad.
'I would rather know what they plan to do in the next 6 months and give the people a report on the progress of these initiatives. Perhaps, a presentation on their performance and their future plans, to the electoral public, who they represent and are actually answerable to.'
The dates for the assembly election in Bihar have been announced and it is a little more than a month away. On the one side there is a rolling stone that seems to be gathering some moss off late. On the other there is the shaky bundle of parties, somewhat bound together by flimsy strings trying to find unity in numbers.
So far we have heard rhetoric at various rallies and Maha-rallies from both sides. Even before the people attending the rallies have reached home, the opposing party has either organised a press conference, taking on and countering each point, addressed during the rally. If it's not the hurried and somewhat anticipated press conference then it is the new found vehicle of connection and trolling -- Twitter.
As a Bihari, I do not want to get into the semantics (that's a new word trending these days on prime time television news channel debates). I do not want to stand in line and brave the medical facilities of local government hospitals to get my DNA tested.
I do not want a dime of the various packages that are being announced and upped at each passing rally.
I do not want to know about the package that was announced in October 2013, before the Lok Sabha elections, for my state.
I do not want to know whether it is the goonda raj, mandal raj or the package raj that comes to power.
I do not want to trust a leader who has been convicted and let out on bail.
I do not believe in the promises of a party that could not do much earlier when it was in power at the Centre.
The people of Bihar have been underestimated. The campaign for votes so far has only been hovering and harping about the history of the land, dropping the names of Siddhartha and Chandragupta Maurya, about it being the land of the Ganga and the Buddha. If that was not enough, to suffer the ignominy of being treated as greedy scavengers thinking that our eyes will light up with dollar signs on the announcement of central packages.
Our memory is strong, after all we also belong to the land of Chanakya. We know that the course of the package from the Centre to the state is long and filled with hurdles. It has to take the bumpy roadway network of the state and probably take a detour at the incomplete bridges over the Ganga till it reaches the sinking and clogged Ganga Setu in Patna. Even there it might get stuck in a jam since a portion of the bridge on one side is missing and repair work has been underway for many years. Perhaps we may find the package announced in 2013, waiting for its turn to cross the bridge in Patna. So near, yet so far.
What do I want from the parties in the fray?
I want a clear manifesto by the two contesting alliances. It is not just surprising, but I find it an insult towards educated Biharis that both the alliances have not thought it pertinent enough to release an election manifesto. I am hoping that it is released soon, if at all it does. I want to crosscheck that with a list of things that I would want to see happen. That I believe would help Bihar and its people.
What I want is a state that is self reliant and creates jobs to stem the exodus to other states. So that the migrant Bihari is not troubled and beaten up in other states, be it Maharashtra or the North East.
What I want is a sense of security that is not tested at every Hindu or Muslim festival. Where there is no need for individual communities to take out processions exhibiting their respective strength in numbers and arms. Where there is freedom as it exists now, to eat, drink and watch whatever a citizen wants and is not a diktat.
What I want is for individuals to be able to buy expensive commodities without the fear of attracting the attention of kidnappers.
What I want is skills training schools, career counseling in colleges and to have branches of the top education institutes in the state. I want the teaching standards of teachers reviewed and adequate training provided to them, so that they can in turn teach correctly.
Before work starts on the smart cities selected in Bihar, I want the traffic situation in even the smallest of towns to be examined. The age old roads and streets of the 1950s have to now deal with the traffic of today.
What I want is not for the elected to tell me what they did in the 1990s or for the past 5 years. I would rather know what they plan to do in the next 6 months and give the people a report on the progress of these initiatives. Perhaps, a presentation on their performance and their future plans, to the electoral public, who they represent and are actually answerable to.
Finally, what I want is to give the wisdom to the people of Bihar to review the merits of their candidates, and vote for them only if they feel that their immediate woes will be addressed. That gives them a definite assurance of security, freedom, progress, self reliance, liberty and above all equality.
Into that heaven let my state awake.
IMAGE: Mintu Kumari, then 11, saw a train for the first time from the window of her bus as she travelled to Patna for a 2007 festival to celebrate the girl child. Photograph: Archana Masih/Rediff.com