For long Bihar figured in the list of weakest states of India, in terms of economic growth and linked to that livelihood opportunities; Wasn’t that enough, it had a major law & order problem. So much so, people used to say it had a Jungleraaj.
Hence, most aspiring Biharis had to leave their homes and move to other parts of country, wherever there was an opportunity, for them to get livelihoods. If you look at most of metro cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, all of them have a fair % of Biharis, among migrant labourers. Extremely, hardworking people. So much so, they could be a source of inspiration.
However, last 15 years, Bihar moulted it’s image of Bimaru state and got on to expressway of growth, with consistent growth rate, north of 10%, supported by 15%+ growth in agriculture. Alright, it was on a low base, but definitely admirable. It has definitely brought prosperity in the state. Cities in Bihar, look prosperous, like any other cities in India.
Elections in Bihar are not just important in terms of the no. of seats, it represents in parliament; But, are always a subject of great fascination for most people in India. Election narratives, evolved from Roti, Kapda, Makaan to Bijali, Sadak & Pani and more. However the leaders, caste equations and heated campaigns are always the key driving factors of these elections.
What’s different this time? Can Ram Mandir, Article 370, China border standoff, play important role? Can basics such as Bijali, Sadak, Pani be election narratives?
Given the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown, more than 3 million migrant labourers have returned home to Bihar, in probably disgraceful manner, without any of their fault. They just haven’t lost livelihoods, they are less of aspirations now, with future looking bleak. They are desperately looking for relief. Whichever party wins elections, the uphill task in their hand would be to bring sustainable jobs/ livelihoods, in the backyard of these migrant labourers. Then they don’t have to migrate with families. They can be close to their loved ones in their hometowns. Crutches of NAREGA won’t be enough for theses aspiring people.
These elections are mere formality! Good thing, even the usual ugly bitterness in campaigns is also missing, for a change. Probably all the leaders are aware that, post this all of them, across party lines will have to rise for the occasion. Their united efforts can bring about the necessary change required on ground. Indian leadership, in past, has shown in past during peak of Covid-19 lockdown or war situations that, they can work together and how.
Like they say, “Politics is the art of the possible, the attainable — the art of the next best”.
This time leadership will have to live by it, literally.