The nation pays homage to the memory of Dr Rajendra Prasad, the first President of India, on December the 3rd. Today, in the spirit of honoring that great son of Bihar on his birthday, I turned to a few news outlets to know what was happening in Rajen Babu’s as well as my home-state.
At a cursory glance, I noticed the following:
Nitish Kumar, the Chief Minister, inaugurated a police training institute in Rajgir, close to his constituency. He lectured the police on how to provide every one, small or big, the security and protection of the law and order without entertaining any kind of interference, political or otherwise.
Then, I got an adjacent news that a police constable was killed by the members of a gang in the heart of the Patna city. The police apparently had foreknowledge about the activities of this gang in the capital town of Bihar.
Then came the news that the office of the state-level Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) in Patna was raided by the police at 2:00 in the morning. The ABVP, the student wing of the BJP, was currently participating in the student union elections taking place in as many as ten universities. The agitated members of the ABVP were cursing the Chief Minister and his newly appointed deputy in his JD(U) party, Prashant Kishore, for getting the raid executed. According to them, Prashant Kishore, foul-named as “Pagal Kutta” (mad dog), wanted the student-supporters of his party to take over the student unions.
The agitators were also calling upon their own Sushil Kumar Modi, a former ABVP operative, to fight with Nitish Kumar and quit his position as the Deputy CM if needed. The tension or the power struggle between the student wings of the political parties within the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) was apparent.
In yet another news, Nitish Kumar and his law-enforcing state machinery appeared to be exposed when no action seemed to be forthcoming against Amarendra Pandey a.k.a Pappu Pandey, a JD(U) MLA, who was accused of demanding “rangdaari tax” (extortion money) from a business person, Akhilesh Jaisawal. Akhilesh said he had earlier given seven hundred thousand rupees to Pappu Pandey towards the JD(U) party-fund. With that money, Pappu Pandey bought seven Bullet motorcycles to perpetuate his criminal activities.
Strangely, the man who came to the aid of the business contractor was Pappu Yadav, another Bahubali. Pappu Yadav, a member of Parliament and himself accused of murder and extortion, gave a slew of instances where the Chief Minister was making compromises with the thugs, criminals and embezzlers to stay in power.
In the dark and murky climate of Bihar, I didn’t find anyone paying tribute to Dr Rajendra Prasad.
It’s hard, because while paying homage to such an illustrious person, one will have to talk about service and sacrifice. It will have to be mentioned that after meeting with Mohandas Gandhi in 1916 at Lucknow Session of the Indian National Congress, Dr Rajendra Prasad joined the historic non-cooperation movement (1921) against the British giving up his lucrative legal practice. He also resigned the Senate and Syndicate membership of the then prestigious Patna University.
Unlike politicians of today, Dr Rajendra Prasad followed Gandhi in letter and spirit, organized Salt Satyagraha in Bihar (1930) and worked for providing relief to the victims of Bihar earthquake (1934). As a scholar, philosopher and member of the Constituent Assembly, he helped draft the Constitution of India.
And yet, on becoming a two-term President of the country (1950-62), he voluntarily took a cut in his salary from Rs 10,000 to 2,500. He inspired many public servants to do the same later.
Dr. Rajendra Prasad himself emphasized for greater undertakings the government or its instruments alone can’t be depended on. The strength of the masses will have to be marshalled.
Against the discouraging scenario today, it’s all the more important to take inspiration from a statesman like Dr Rajendra Prasad and be dedicated to public service.
Dr. Binoy Shanker Prasad hails from Darbhanga and currently resides with his family in Dundas, Ontario (Canada). A former UGC teacher fellow (at JNU) in India and Fulbright scholar in the USA, he has taught politics and authored conference papers, articles and chapters on Bihar in previously published books in the United States, India, and Canada.
Dr. Prasad administers a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/OverseasBihari and has sponsored “Aware Citizenship Campaign” at a micro-level in his home-town.