Nitish Kumar and the demise of Pataliputra – S.K. Sinha

Lt. Gen. S.K. Sinha In 1985, a memorand­um had been submitted, signed by one lakh citizens of Patna, to restore the city’s ancient name of Pataliputra and erect a Civilisation Gate in Patna…. The Civi­li­sation Gate is meant to depict civilisation spreading from Bihar to all parts of the world. Pataliputra, in its heyday, was a leading city of the world and the capital of India for nearly 10 centuries. Ot­her measures, like giving a facelift to the city’s riverfront, were also recommended to promote Bihari self-pride. – Lt. Gen. S.K. Sinha

BuddhaDuring the late Mughal era Bihar was part of Bengal suba and remained so for most of British rule. As an appendage of Bengal for a couple of centuries, Bihar remained a backward region. It was only in 1911 that it became a separate province.

When I was a student in Patna in the 1930s and early 1940s, Biharis constituted a minority amo­ng the intelligentsia. It was Bengalis who dominated — as professors, school teachers, government officers, lawyers, doctors and even clerks.

The situation was different in Uttar Pradesh. Inheritor of the cultural heritage of the Lucknow na­wabs and pure Urdu, it had an air of superiority. I once represented Pat­na University at an All-India Inter-Univer­si­ty Debate in Alla­ha­bad in 1941. When my tu­rn came to speak, I was hooted and called a “Bi­hari buddhu” (fool). I pr­o­mptly replied, “Bi­hari Buddha, not Bihari bu­ddhu”. Perhaps th­at’s what got me the prize!

For centuries under the Mauryas, and later the Guptas, Bihar led the country in every sphere of human en­dea­vour. The whole of India for the first time became one political entity. Bihar was the centre of culture, knowledge and civilisation and impacted all Asia.

During the medieval pe­riod, Sher Shah Suri from Bihar was a pione­er of secularism and go­od governance in the co­untry. Mughal Empe­ror Akbar followed in his footsteps. Later, Veer Ku­er Singh was the mo­st successful military lea­d­er of the 1857 war and was the only one to re­pe­a­tedly defeat British tro­ops in battle. Bihar provided the platform for the Mahatma to lau­nch the Freedom Move­ment.

Babu Kunwar SinghJayaprakash Narayan, also from Bihar, was the hero of the 1942 Quit India Movement and, in 1977, the saviour of In­dian democracy. Dr Raj­en­dra Prasad was the most loyal follower of the Mahatma, who held him in high regard for his legal acumen. He be­came the first President of India and had an un­mat­ched 11 years in off­ice. In 1956, the US ex­pert Appleby, invited by Nehru, reported that Bi­har was the best administered state. It was an irony that feudal Bihar remained backward.

From the mid-60s, Bi­har started rapidly goi­ng down the slippery slo­pe of rampant corrupti­on and rank casteism. It reached its nadir under Lalu Prasad Yadav. Bihar became a basket case. This dismal situation started improving when Nitish Kumar took over as chief minister.

The growth rate of Gu­jarat and Bihar are often compared. Bihar started from a lower level and Gujarat from a higher base. Like Narendra Mo­di, Nitish Kumar was viewed as a possible Pri­me Minister. Nitish Ku­mar persistently denied he had any such ambiti­on but his actions spoke differently.

He was ha­ppy to be in the National Democratic Alliance and enjoyed the fruits of office as cabinet minister in the Union government while his colleagues in the coalition, Ram Vilas Paswan and Omar Abdullah, resig­ned in the wake of the 2002 Gujarat riots.

Jayaprakash NarayanAs his reputation as an efficient Chief Minister grew, he started trying to overtake Modi and played the “secular” card. Posters showing him holding hands with Modi, displayed by his alliance partner, the BJP, during an all-India meet of BJP leaders in Patna irked him so much that he called off the dinner he was to host for them.

He managed to get a Pakistani parliamentary delegation to visit Bihar and give him a certificate of good governance. De­­spite 26/11, he chose to go on a goodwill visit to Pakistan.

His intentions were ob­vious. He started talking of Bihari pride like Modi boasted of Gu­jarati pride. He demanded “ba­ckward state” status for Bihar and offered political support to the Con­gress or any party th­at obliged. This meant that Bihar was up for grabs to the highest bidder! This was hardly in keeping with Bihari pride.

In 1985, a memorand­um had been submitted, signed by one lakh citizens of Patna, to restore the city’s ancient name of Pataliputra and erect a Civilisation Gate in Patna, bigger than India Gate in Delhi and the Gateway of India in Mu­m­bai.

The Civi­li­sation Gate is meant to depict civilisation spreading from Bihar to all parts of the world. Pataliputra, in its heyday, was a leading city of the world and the capital of India for nearly 10 centuries. Ot­her measures, like giving a facelift to the city’s riverfront, were also recommended to promote Bihari self-pride.

Narendra Modi & Nitish Kumar (now divorced).The then Congress government in the state wholeheartedly supported the proposal. Rajiv Gandhi was sympathetic but changed his mind wh­en Muslim and Leftist historians objected, saying this would promote Hindu fundamentalism!

When Kumar rai­sed the issue of Bihari self-pride, the Pata­li­pu­t­ra proposal was revived. But he was reluctant to rename the city lest he lose the minority votes. Even naming Patna Junction as Pataliputra Junction was not acceptable to him. He chose a new railway station, far away from the geographical limits of ancient Pataliputra, to bear that hallowed name. This is murdering history.

He did, however, agree to the Civilisation Gate and the riverfront project. But when self-promotion replaced Bihari self-pride, this project lost priority and little action has been taken in the last three years.

On the other hand, Narendra Modi and former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati executed the Sabarmati and Gomti riverfront projects in their respective states with great flourish.

The arrogance that co­mes with power, the ri­valry with Modi and the appeasement of mi­norities have propelled Kumar on a downward course. His humiliating defeat in the Maharajganj byelection and the increasingly poor response to his much-hyped Seva Yatras are not good signs.

Bodh Gaya BlastsThe terrorist attack at Bodh Gaya exposed the criminal negligence of his administration.

Emulating his new-fou­nd friends, he is now ur­ging that the issue not be politicised and is covering up his administrati­on’s inexcusable failure.

The tragedy of 23 schoolchildren dying after eating poisoned food in Chapra, and Nitish Ku­mar’s handling of that tragedy, has been atrocious.

Not only did he not visit the ailing children in a Patna hospital, he did not even issue a statement of sympathy. The minister who made the irresponsible charge of political conspiracy should have been sacked. The officials found negligent should have been fired.

The icon of inclusive development seems to be transformed from a sushasak to a kushasak. – Deccan Chronicle, 31 July 2013

» S.K. Sinha is a retired lieutenant-general of the Indian Army. He was Vice-Chief of Army Staff and has served as gover­nor of Assam and J&K.

Dead school children are buried in the school yard itself as a protest against the Bihar government.

Dharmashati Gandaman villagers bury poisoned school children in the school yard itself as a protest against Bihar’s negligent Nitish Kumar government.

2 Responses

  1. Pataliputra will promote Hindu fundamentalism?!!!! Which secular morons said this? When we have cities named after fanatic Islamic rulers (Aurangabad, Bakhtiyarpur, Ghazipur, Ghaziabad) or roads in the national capital named after Aurangzeb, is not that promoting Islamic fundamentalism? Not just Patna, other cities should be renamed as well:

    Aurangabad – Sambhajinagar
    Hyderabad – Bhagyanagar
    Ahmedabad – Karnavati or Ambavadi
    Bhopal – Bhojpal
    Ghaziabad – Hemunagar

    These renaming processes will instill Hindu nationalist pride, and Hindus can never be fundamentalist. Just like Germany has wiped out completely all traces of Nazism (you won’t find a single statue of Hitler anywhere in Germany), the Indian Muslims, if they have even an iota of love for their Hindu brethren, if they are true patriots, must disown the fanatic Islamic rulers who carried out genocide of Hindus. The Muslims must cooperate in removing the names of Aurangzeb, Babur, Ghazni, etc. from all cities and landmarks.

    Nitish Kumar is more pseudo-secular than even Laloo and Mulayam. He uses the Pakistani card to woo Muslims, just like Ram Vilas Paswan had used Osama bin Laden in the 2005 Bihar Assembly elections. His regime may be better than Laloo’s Jungle Raj, but still of late his shortcomings are being exposed in recent incidents. Bodhgaya blasts, midday meal tragedy, all these events are showing that Bihar is still in a very bad condition under Nitish.

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  2. Its a good article, but what can we expect from political leaders like Nitish and Akhilesh nothing ZERO

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