PATNA—It was not very long ago when Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar was widely perceived as the “model” of development politics. He was heaped with epithets like “Susashan Babu” and “Vikas Purus” while many believed him as India’s future Prime Minister.
Quite many of his schemes such as “Har Ghar Nal ka Jal” (tapped water to every home) and “Power Connection to Every House” were even copied by the Centre and his popularity at one point of time was such that a local villager chopped finger from his left hand each time he took oath as the chief minister but it’s a different story now.
The man who won wide laurels from various quarters for his development agenda has now become the target of attack, raising a question mark over his popularity. Only yesterday, he was allegedly attacked from behind while he had gone to attend a public function organized in his birthplace of Bakhtiyarpur, a block town in Patna district.
Although the officials have tried to play down the issue describing it as the act of a “mentally unstable” person, the inside story remains entirely different. According to reports, the frustrated youth identified as Shankar Kumar Verma alias Chhotu, 32, had gone into depression after his repeated appeals to the government to help his relatives lodged in jail fell flat. Reports said his close relatives are lodged in jail for a long time in a petty case. Eventually, his wife abandoned him too, leaving him alone and frustrated.
However, this was not the first time that the chief minister faced the ire of the masses in public. During the last 2020 assembly poll campaign, the chief minister was attacked with onions at an election rally in Madhubani district as the villagers were angry at the sky-rocketing prices of essential commodities.
In January 2018, the chief minister’s cavalcade was attacked with stones and brickbats in Buxur district while he had gone to review the development works. Although he remained unharmed, several of his security personnel sustained injuries in the attack which left the chief minister highly infuriated. The police later arrested at least 28 persons, including 10 women, and sent to jail in connection with the incident for which five separate cases were registered.
Even serious incident took place in September 2012 when chief minister’s convoy was attacked with stones by the protesting contractual teachers during the course of his “Adhikar yatra” in Khagaria district as muscle-flexing leader Ranbir Yadav came to his rescue.
The chief minister was in the town to mobilize support of the masses for his demand for special status to Bihar but was instead greeted with large-scale violence. During the same yatra, the chief minister was greeted with slippers at many places in Madhepura, Betia and Darbhanga, irritating him too much.
So, why the masses have now turned against him? “The chief minister has not been consistent on his political stands and has indulged in too much of politics instead of ‘development politics’,” commented a political expert. According to experts, the Janata Dal United (JD-U) headed by Kumar has taken U-turns on several key issues such as Triple Talaq, Article 370 and Citizenship Bill.