‘No one is going to vote in Bihar’

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September 18th, 2010 Aditi Phadnis

A conversation with an autorickshaw driver in delhi was revealing.

“You are from Bihar,” I stated, rather than asked him.

“How did you know?” he asked with a grin but answered the question himself: “I know. It must because of the way I speak”

“… and a very sweet lilt it is,” said I, anxious not to be misunderstood.

He was from Madhubani, the district that Jagannath Mishra belongs to and the heartland of fedualism. “There’s a drought there,’ he said.

I asked him what the political news from his village was.

“Well, no one is going to vote. They would like to vote for Nitish, but Lalu Prasad will win…” he said.

I pointed out the contradictions. “They won’t vote because of a drought? That’s silly. And how can Lalu Prasad win if the people vote for Nitish?”

“Ah, you don’t know Bihar,” he said. I confessed I didn’t.

“Nothing happens in Bihar because the people will it. Everything happens on directions from the bahubali (mafia). Nitish has done really good work. We think he should be given another five years – the roads, power, jobs…The way people talk about Bihar now…? They will have to eat their words if the state can have Nitish for another five years,” he said.

“So what’s the problem?” I saked a trifle impatiently.

“In Madhubani, people don’t have enough to eat. The government is making grain available but it is not available freely. You have to take somebody’s obligation to get ration. And then when the elections come, that obligation has to be repaid…” he explained.

What if Lalu came back?

“Then there is no hope,” he shook his head. “Gangs, criminals…”

Once he started talking about the paddy fields of Madhubani, it was like a breach in a dam. Words flowed out in a torrent.

“I haven’t lived there for 17 years. There is no safety, no regard for life. I’d like to go back, till the small plot of land my family has, set up a cottage industry… but what’s the point. People demand money even to let you exist. So I live here, in a slum but dream of the emerald fields of Madhubani..”

I had tears in my eyes when I got off the rickshaw.

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17 Responses to “‘No one is going to vote in Bihar’”

  1. Motor Trade Insurance Says:

    I like this post, enjoyed this one thankyou for putting up.

  2. Vivek Mundra Says:

    From a “state of no hope” to a “state with some hope”, this has been the journey of Bihar in the last 5 years. Nitish as a person is honest, visionary and has helped in shaping up Bihar. Recently a month back I visited Patna after a gap of 5 years and saw quite significant changes. Good roads, large glitzy showrooms (which were non existent during Lalu/ Rabri regime) and a sense of hope among the residents. Along with my cousin we ventured out in the city at 9.00 pm without any fear, which one couldnt have thought about 5 years back when Lalu and his goons were at helm. In my opinion if Nitish doesnot come back to power, I think it will be a sad day for all of us who have our roots connected with Bihar.

  3. RJ Says:

    This article is condescending in the extreme. Biharis alone are not responsible for Bihar’s troubles. Most of them are extremely hard working and disciplined and put up with a lot of nonsense from non-Biharis. In the mid 1950s a British commission (for all those who think that things foreign are good and things Indian are sub standard) had deemed Bihar to be the best administered state in the country. Yes, the best. If it has been all downhill since most of the period since then the credit must go to the Congress Party which has ruled Bihar and the Centre for most of this period either by itself or through proxies.

  4. Naresh Thakur Says:

    I totally agree with Bandhu… This is not fair at all… Why always Bihari….. Ms Aditi We would have been liked your comments if you have been in Bihar and then writing the Blogs. Yes, There is poverty and lack of basic amenities in Bihar and specially in those part of Bihar. I hail from the same part of Bihar as he (Auto Rickshaw driver). I am happy that atleast he is not involving in any crime ..but working hard to earn money and take care of his family… As far as Election and Voting goes in Bihar…. Most of the people does not vote and even in some cases they are not allowed to do so.. I can only hope and pray that Nitish will come again and do the things which he could not do in his five year tenure. I can only give you one example of his work that my village never had electircity which is there now ….. Bihar is progressing and so the Bihiaris……………..

  5. p r sharma Says:

    social atmosphere in rural Bihar has undergone a positive change by the rule of the law. Quick and honest steps of the government has yielded fast judicial decisioning landing the criminals in jail. Also development works particularly in roads, bridges are visible. Nitish Kumar has been able to instill faith in the minds of people of lower financial/social background as their saviour/ well wisher. under these circumstances they cannot be intimidated /stopped by the Bahubalis for voting and i am sure( as it appears) that the poll percentage will be higher. It is nice to reflect the minds of people on bihar poll.

    regards,

    p r sharma

  6. p r sharma Says:

    Definitely there is a visible positive change in the atmosphere, social and to some extent economical in Bihar. In the past Bahubalis used to influence the election process with the support political leaders. Now the sincere and honest efforts of the present government led by Nitish kumar it is hoped that the people particularly having very low financial strength too can not be intimidated/stopped for voting. Good work done by the present government has been able to instill faith in the poor that better prospect is awaiting. Moreover , there is always a comparison with the Lalu raj and I am sure that poll percentage will be higher in the ensuing election.

    regards

  7. k a prasanna Says:

    Times have changed. The present population is more intelligent than the yester years. If Nitish has not performed well, he will be thrown out. Otherwise there is every possibility Nitish and co will come back, may be with reduced majority. The days of Lalu, Paswan are Sharad Yadav are over. They can’t fool the public for very long. And also the Congress is likely to fare very well.

  8. Navneet Says:

    Aditi your confined piece of writing has thrown light on the prolonged situation of Bihar……I would like to thank you for the same……I would agree the way the rickshaw puller think even most of the educated people who are getting hands ome salary outside the state think the same way…..The polarisation of society by so called warriors of social justice have created such a mess in the society that every section of society ,be it upper caste or lower caste ,is skeptical about each other.And for this you cant blame Biharis thanks to the adage “Road to parliament passes from Bihar and UP ” . ;
    What change this social justice has brought to the society is quite evident that my maid , belonging to Yadav community still works at my home for past 20 years whom my family trusts more than anyone, has never been found fit to get a BPL Card or a house from Indiara Awas Yojana .At the same time creamy layer sabotaged the whole pie.
    Despite the odds like the rikshaw puller we can hope for a better future for our Bihar…No matter who wins but never let the idiotic Lalu to gain the power again….;
    Cant even chant Jai Bihar at top of my voice in this situation.

  9. ashok Says:

    Perhaps a chastened Lalu will improve on Nitish Kumar’s roads and bring them upto the level of Hema Malini’s cheeks this time round !

  10. Rajendra Asthana Says:

    Madhubani is Mythili speaking Bihar, Lalu is from Gopal ganj the Bhojpuri speaking Bihar. If the sob act is cut out, may I correct Aditi Phadnis, Biharis do vote, after-all it was they who five years back voted out Rabri Devi (surrogate for lalu yadav) and brought in Nitish. What one needs is a free, fair, and non-intimidating environment for elections. One trusts that present election commission would continue the good work started by T.N.shesan, who must be credited for starting fair elections by using the powers vested in CEO.

  11. Bandhu Says:

    why u people tend to show off ur aptitude in exploiting emotions of Biharis always…yes, It is Poverty in Bihar, But having tears in eyes when u get off rikshaw won’t make any difference,Neither this blog would make. This only worsens our Image. I f u are really feeling sorry for Biharis, and reckon urself a social worker(or so called intellectual ) then Pls do some some ground work ,or u can go to Bihar also. My sincere request is to please refrain urself publishing any prophecy about Bihar. It would rise again, and it doesn’t need any pity of anybody…

  12. SUNNY DINKAR Says:

    HI
    FIRST OF ALL WOULD LIKE TO THANK MISS ADITI FOR HERS EFFORTS TO BRING THE NEW MINDSETS OF THE PEOPLE OF BIHAR.ITS A KIND OF CHANGE WE MUST BE PRIDE OFF.NO DOUBT STATE HAS ACHIEVED NEW LANDMARKS BUT STILL HAS TO GO LONG AND SHOULD NEED TO BE PERSISTENT IN.
    THANKS TO THE ALMIGHTY THAT IT HAS BEEN EARED THE DESIRE OF A COMMON BIHARI THAT BIHAR GOT THE CM LIKE NITISH KUMAR.WE NEED TO BE OPTIMIST AND NEED TO SUPPORT THE GOVERMENT IN EVERY POSSIBLE WAY WHICH WE CAN DO BEING A COMMON MAN.
    I HOPE BIHAR WILL DEFINETLY GOIN TO GET THE MILESTONE THE GOVERMENT AND THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE HAS IN THEIR MINDS AND ALSO HOPE CURRENT GOVERMENT REPEAT THE SAME WHAT IT HAS DONE IN 2005.
    THANKS

  13. Aman Kumar Jha Says:

    It will be very sad and disappointing if Nitish and his party does not return to power even after such a miraculous change in the state. I find no reason why he won’t. “Despite three years of floods followed by a year of drought, ‘backward and benighted’ Bihar reported a miraculous growth figure: 11% GDP growth, second only to Gujarat. The state’s economy never grew so fast so consistently as it has since 2004-2005.” What else Bihari need? Bihari must encourage performers. Dream of the emerald fields of Madhubani must be kept alive.

  14. Anil Kumar Says:

    Hi Aditi,
    It was a short and sweet wright-up. I am in US for the last 40 years but love of the land takes me back to Bihar almost once a year. I do see hope in the air, people dreams are sprouting back and most people looks very optimistic about their future.

    It used to take 45 mins to drive from my home in Patna to the Airport- now it takes about 20 mins. There was very little electric supply and nights used to a battle fighting with mosqueto now ther are enogh supply of electricity to keep lights and fans powered through the night. Above all people think that there is a future for them in Bihar, which always eluded them.

    There is a great change in Bihar for the better. Please keep it going by your writing or the things you do the best.

    Regards,

    Anil Kumar

  15. Nandlal Says:

    Hi Aditi,
    It touching to go through your blog and I am happy that People have realizing the change in the air. Being from Bihar and followed its politics closely for a decade or so, I must say, Still there are certain area where we have these activities like bahubali and powerful people taking control of the political outcome. Having said that, We have a fair amount of people looking for a better and improved Bihar. The work done by the current Government has been extrordinary in a sense that When Nitish Kumar took over, The state was in doldrum. These Five years have shown the commitment and positive outlook by the Government and I am sure If one has to continue the growth path of last 5 years, the Goverment has to come back again in power. IF anyhow It does not happen, It will be another dark phase for the state. I just pray that This does not happen.

    Regards-
    Nandlal

  16. Girish Mishra Says:

    Jagannath Mishra does not belong to Madhubani though he fought and won elections to assembly from a constituency falling in that district.

  17. rajeev Says:

    It’s true , people of Bihar want growth , better law and order and an opportunity to earn their bred even if not with butter ….but these innocent and illiterate people who cast their votes on the name of cast and community …. let all so called literate and migrated people should come and contribute in election so that state may continue it’s journey of progress and touch a newer heights…….. regards.

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