By Alok Verma

I recently travelled to some districts in north Bihar. This was my first ever visit so was the experience. While being in the cities I really felt sorry for citizens living in the crumbled civic infrastructure. Absolutely poorly maintained main roads and many arterial roads connecting localities were literally submerged with overflowing sewage waters. Saw uniformed children wading through dirty waters to go to their schools. Many cities I found cluttered with many Tata vans, autos, Mahindra tempos plying on the narrow potholed roads leading to traffic snarl up often. Yet, I found flourishing shopping malls, branded outlets and markets filled up with shoppers. 

I visited many villages too while covering the road distances. Roads did exist and comparatively better than cities. One could feel the obvious despair in eyes of villagers standing or sitting around cemented corners of trees. I could see them half clad or wearing tattered clothes but most of them were flaunting mobile phones. Most complained of not getting employment, medical care, quality education and electricity. But when asked how do they charge mobile phones they already knew the power of solar chargers. 

As I  discreetly began to engage them on election tempo they very wisely would deflect the discourse. After exhibiting some patience they would open up to share their helplessness. They would blame their panchayat leaders to local vidhayak for most of their problems. Most of them expressed their unhappiness over pathetic medical care and told me that government hospitals have no facility and they are forced to go to private doctors and clinics. Siwan district alone has over 2000 private doctors in a  population of about 4 lakh. 

With my further probe on election tempo I found Nitish Kumar does have a very good image but it has been dented quite badly by shaking hands with Lalu Yadav. Irrespective of party preference I found near unanimity in views of voters that Nitish should not have gone with him. 

On my final quest to know who do they think would voters prefer– BJP or JDU I almost got a sense that BJP has been able to build a preferred image. It’s not due to any great work the BJP has done so far or voters are expecting the party to do any if it comes to power but many I found echoing the expression that the BJP should also be tested. 

When I was returning to board the Train for Delhi my taxi driver told me bluntly that what all I got to hear was  all humbug and ultimately the votes would be cast on caste and communal lines only. He further lamented that if we were to change for better we first as voters must resist caste and communal politics. My respect for the taxi driver went up a few notches high for his prudence and wisdom. But he is a minority and so is his voice in politics. 

What all we are witnessing in the name of beef seems to be a well rehearsed acts written by politicians. I remembered what my taxi driver shared with me. Election season has come back. And, each politician is performing his role so immaculately on beef politics. Worse is that elections would also be determined on petty issues like this. 

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