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Whom will the astute Bihari choose?

By A Bihari Abroad
October 09, 2015 10:00 IST
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Bihar's progress in the last 10 years under Nitish Kumar has been acknowledged by Biharis -- but whom will the astute Bihari choose this time, A Bihari Abroad asks as the first round of polls in the state begins on Monday.

Women in a polling booth in Bihar

Badaliye Sarkar; Badaliye Bihar

The slogan has been flogged all over Bihar by the Bharatiya Janata Party. We love change and that may be the reason for change to happen come November 8.

We get bored with the present. We long for better, fancier, superior. We salivate at the prospect and succumb to the marketing and sales of a better product. We are always looking to upgrade -- our TV, our car, our phone, our lives.

It is no wonder then that the BJP slogan has been so worded.

In the midst of the current turmoil from within and without, the BJP and the HoD of the election department, within the conglomerate, are both trying to salvage and pacify dissident candidates and party workers.

The list of candidates announced so far from both alliances have been followed by wailing from candidates who were ignored. Short changed? Perhaps.

The initial exit polls have treaded the safe path and given both alliances more or less of an equal chance. I cannot help but notice though that many television channels either lean unabashedly towards the central government or maintain a flimsy facade of being neutral. The channels standing up are either being branded 'leftist' or 'pseudo-secular.'

Badaliye news, warna badal jayega channel.

Rahul Gandhi's rally in Champaran did nothing to boost the chances of the Nitish-Lalu dostana. I think the two realised this much before the rally, stepped back and fielded cricketer-turned-politician Tejaswi Prasad as proxy.

Speaking of Tejaswi, he may lack actor-turned-politician Chirag Paswan's charisma, but he can hold his own as revealed in the interviews that I watched. Of course, he lacks experience and does not have any fresh ideas other than preaching about bringing the marginalised into the mainstream.

I am not sure by the way what this 'mainstream' means exactly. I sincerely hope it means education and employment. Nothing else matters.

The presence or the lack thereof the Bihari Babu in the BJP scheme of things in Bihar is conspicuous. Overlooked so far and announced as a star campaigner for the party as an afterthought has certainly not gone down well with the Shotgun.

He seems to be waiting, Khamosh and perched upon his machaan.

Badaliye Sarkar; Badaliye Bihar. Does the average Bihari really need this change?

The progress made by Bihar in the last ten years under Nitish Kumar has been acknowledged and appreciated by Biharis en masse. The reason why the development stands out is maybe because they had nothing to measure it against.

As the saying goes, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Perhaps, Bihar can do without this change if it means that the wheels of development keep rolling.

Each time I visit Bihar -- which is at least thrice every year -- I notice new flyovers, new roads, the reduction of time taken getting around Patna, even an extension of the waiting lounge at the airport.

I have seen electrification of the railway tracks; gone are the days of the diesel locomotive. I have noticed the conversion of meter gauge to broad gauge of the railways. I have seen new and advanced road laying machines and JCBs at work. Gone are the days of dilapidated road rollers which rusted away in PWD compounds.

The news of murders or kidnappings is not frequent anymore. And the most significant development by far is the electricity -- that thankfully has lessened the use of polluting and noisy generators.

We will only know in November if Bihar follows the BJP tagline or puts its faith in Nitish Kumar's Badlav Se Badhiya Bharosa.

A Bihari Abroad

IMAGE: Women at a polling booth in Jehanabad, Bihar. Photograph: Krishna Murari Kishan/Reuters

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