I am putting back my pistol

Updated: Nov 23 2005, 05:30am hrs
What Lalu Prasad did during fifteen years of his reign was nothing new. He was just trying to perfect the ploys of democracy, like the Congress has been doing for 58 years in India.

Many may dispute the contention that Lalu had lost the mandate of the people years ago. But I have strongly believed that to be a fact. I saw it in Bihars alarming spiral as it began withering, disintegrating and receding into the darkest pits of crime, ignorance, corruption and anarchy. Right from the grassroot village level to the state secretariat level, governance had collapsed. When in a state there are 100,000 vacancies for primary schoolteachers, one can easily imagine the sorry condition it is in.

There was never any serious programme to deliver public services like road, water, housing and electricity. Industry is conspicuous by its absence and the education system in Bihar, once said to be the best east of Suez, gave up all pretensions to excellence a long, long time ago.

Some leaders believe that if the common man progresses, he will be much less susceptible to coercion and the power of these despotic leaders will decline. Politicians, to ensure that they can gain from coercion, patronise criminals. This nexus must be broken if Bihar is to have a chance.

A Bihar must be developed which would never again face a situation where its own people are repelled into seeking livelihood elsewhere, seeing no future for the state, a Bihar where Biharis feel ashamed of being Biharis. Bihar has a glorious past. We must now build for it an assertive present and a promising future. Let us create conditions for the farmer to reap the benefit of his harvest. Let investment flow into the state
However, I agree that Lalu did a great service by championing the issue of social equality, by continuously harping on the tune of secularism, in the garb of his M-Y (Muslim-Yadav) support. But he failed to realise that he had milked the cow dry several years ago. He can no more live off the agenda of social equality.

Lalu is not giving us back the same Bihar that he received 15 year ago. However, lets not waste time assigning blame. Lets move on! We need to step out, wake up and create conditions in which the states intellectuals and the work force, who had left the state for other parts of the country, or even of the world, can be motivated to come back. It is amazing how well Biharis are doing outside Bihar. There are so many Biharis in the top administrative services. So many Biharis have settled abroad and are thriving in software and other industries. Also, wherever one goes, one finds a huge Bihari workforce, working hard, well and with all honesty.

A Bihar must be developed which would never again face a situation where its own people are repelled into seeking livelihood elsewhere, seeing no future for the state, a Bihar where Biharis feel ashamed of being Biharis. Bihar has a glorious past. We must now build for it an assertive present and a promising future.

Lets not waste time assigning blame. Lets move on! We need to step out, wake up and create conditions in which the states intellectuals and the work force, who had left Bihar for other parts of the country, can be motivated to come back
Let us set the law and order situation in Bihar right. Let everyone feel safe here. Remember, Nalanda is here. We must revive the glory of Bihars educational institutions. Let us create conditions for the farmer to reap the benefit of his harvest. Let investment flow into the state and let industries flourish.

I am an optimist. Bihar has immense potential. But this potential must be ignited. Much as we would like to believe in a vision of a civilised world, order in Bihar cannot be summoned with soft love, with just idealistic words. One has to accept the responsibility with a hard hand. It may need tough action and hard decisions to get Bihar on the move again.

I will cite one of my own experiences to illustrate what I mean to say. Some years back, when I was contesting the elections in Bihar, I had a very thrilling and chance encounter with one of my fellow candidates from an opposition party. Some of these friends would often resort to threat and force to get an edge. It so happened that one day, while I was out campaigning, I crossed the path of this one contender who too was campaigning. As courtesy dictates, we exchanged pleasantries. Then the gentleman called me aside and said with pride.

Bhaiya, twenty-seven cases against me are in the court! he began. Why did you have to leave your silver-screen world and come here to contest Do you think it would really bother me if now there be 28 cases against me Well, the good fellow surely took me by surprise for a minute with his sweet-voiced, but very direct threat, though it was not totally unexpected from him. I looked him straight into the eye and answered: Do you think you are the only person who can use a pistol Saying this I calmly took a pistol out of my pocket to show him. The man was stunned. He did not say another word. The writer is an award-winning film-maker and a one-time contestant in Bihar elections. Apaharan, his film on the kidnapping industry, will be released on December 2