2013, Calcutta, Reportage, Telegraph Calcutta

Straws Between The Hawa And the Zameen In Bihar

Driving about in North Bihar: The countryside lies liberally sign-posted with the clarion of a flaming war — hunkar! khabardar! lalkar! parivartan!

From the ultra Left CPI(ML) to the ultra unpredictable Laloo Yadav to the ultra nationalist Narendra Modi, a multitude of armies is laying siege to Nitish Kumar’s shaken bastion. A tussle unlike Bihar has seen in recent years is in the works.

At the Hajipur crossroads between the districts of Purvanchal and Mithila, Narendra Modi bears down a gigantic vinyl billboard, fist clenched, gaze belligerent, cry vociferous: “Hunkar Utha Bihar!” It may be no more than visual symbolism, but Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s smiling visage on a welfare banner flutters dwarfed underneath. A rag-tag red flag party is filing past, en route to yet another rally in Patna.


It’s months to go for the Lok Sabha poll, but in Bihar the trenches have been dug. “Nayi khalbali machi hai rajneeti mein, gathbandhan tootne ke baad sabko chance nazar aa raha hai,” the Bihari street oracle has spoken almost before the question can be popped, “Bahut dangal hone wala hai.” (A new scramble has broken out in politics, after the alliance broke, everyone is seeing a chance, we are in for a freestyle bout.” Bitter this campaign will be, and for the combatants also wearying, but whenever have Biharis been averse to an extended dose of political drama? They are almost smacking their lips at what could lie in store.

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