Bihar Cabinet Reshuffle- Caste or Performance

I have never found Times of India (Delhi edition) covering any news from Bihar so extensively. It didn’t report the Bihar’s only cabinet reshuffle as news. But on April 20, it carried a headline ‘BJP upset with Sushil Modi for playing into Nitish hands’ and then on April 21, ‘Rajnath approved of reshuffle: JD (U)’. I don’t know if it is beginning of the end of alliance or just a media masala to create a breach of trust between the two parties.

Unfortunately, in Indian model of coalitions, the head of the allied political party and not the prime minister or the chief minister decides the performance of an individual minister belonging to the party to decide for exclusion or inclusion. It is Karunanidhi who decided the exclusion of the smart Dayanidi Maran and the inclusion of D Raja. Even if Manmohan Singh would have liked to retain Maran, he could not have done that. It was against Indian alliance dharma (principle). Even if one minister is corrupt and the PM wishes to drop him, the PM can only persuade the minister’s party head, but can’t take a decision on his own. I wish after once a minister is installed, the PM should become his real boss for managing in better way.

During this reshuffle in Bihar, I was amazed to find media mentioning the name of ministers dropped or included mentioning their castes. According to media, if someone from a caste was dropped, the incoming person was from the same caste. I didn’t find even a sentence anywhere about the credentials of the ministers justifying their induction or about the performance of the dropped minister. How can one think of any development in the state with such a mindset prevailing in its people and media?

How long Bihar will live with its caste obstinacy? I remember Nehru who was contemptuous of caste. In a circular sent to the presidents of all the Pradesh Congress committees in 1954, Nehru said: “In particular, we must fight whole-heartedly against those narrow divisions which have grown up in our country in the name of caste, which weaken the unity, solidarity and progress of the country”. In last 60 years, the caste bias has accentuated in Bihar. Many thought that with education, it will die, but it never happened. Why can’t the people of Bihar, particularly the younger generation, understand its necessity for survival, respectability and progress of the state?

Another obvious inference appears to be the absence of persons, reputed in his area of expertise among the ministers. Should I infer that Bihar doesn’t have any person with an established record of performance in administration? He could have been brought in the cabinet to enhance the image of the government? I am sure Bihar has produced a large number of able people at least in education and healthcare sector. The CM could have invited them to join the ministry. Bihar requires improving upon education as well as healthcare as focus area. The education minister must be a dynamic person who could get large number of good secondary schools, trade schools, engineering and medical colleges established covering every block of the state. Why can’t the education network be as extensive as it is in Andhra Pradesh or Tamil Nadu?

I remember many years ago one doctor getting elected from Sasaram. He used to be a reputed eye surgeon attached to the then president. We all hoped that he would be the health minister. But he couldn’t be minister. A party man was quoted as saying, “He has already made so much of money as doctor, why should he be allowed to do that any more?” Perhaps that may be the hurdle in bringing in the outsiders.

Whatever might be the story of Bihar’s cabinet reshuffle, with the reshuffle in place, Nitish must now move fast. He has already gone past half of his tenure. Should the people of Bihar hope for a developed Bihar or forget to dream?

We keep on hearing good news, and better performance. But nothing is happening to take Bihar position from the bottom most to a respectable level. Bihar can always become the granary of the country. It can concentrate all its synergy on the flood control and irrigation projects in North Bihar. It can earn huge revenue and create employment if it focuses on tourism and food processing sector.

I wish Bihar’s politicians hear the voices from all around and start working on some great projects all around the state and not only around Patna.

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