Emergency of 1975 in this country has many tell-tales. And they say that most authentic documentation of such saga is in the form of the report of Shah Commission. I haven’t read it and no opinion on it therefore. My truth is my own experience of 13 months of jail term in Muzaffarpur.
I must say I was a misfit like many, who had landed in the mist without much contemporary political skills and therefore, could not get along with the new dynamics of political nitty-gritty. We were probably gentlemen and our worst enemy was somewhere our own conscience and ethics which discomforted us in changing environment where new ruling class that was emerging on the populist planks such as ‘social justice’ was jostling and squashing in the old order. This class had thrown everything to winds in order to usher themselves into the offices of power. It was not the time when politics was the first choice of gentlemen. I decided to change my course of action and stayed away at a safe distance from such political maneuvering. This prompted me to go for my graduation from jail. Although there were many aspirants in prison, I was the only one who opted for taking this exam, of course with considerable amount of uncertainty of it being ever be held. However, the luck was on my side.
Nevertheless, I grew wiser as being there and do not repent the confinement thrust upon me. This enabled me to spell some illusions related to the ruling polity of our country. Nitish Kumar had undoubtedly embalmed the pangs and pains by bestowing JP Senani Pension to prisoners during emergency.
Despite the facts that there were many seasoned politicians of Bihar in Central Jail Muzaffarpur mostly seemed having no inclination to work to bring about any social change as such as JP had envisaged in his concept of ‘total revolution’. A few like Hukmdeo Narayan Yadav who had his conduct above board, were at best safe sailors. It is worth mentioning here that now I understand that some of the lofty thoughts that JP had propounded in his call of ‘Total Revolution’ was just utopia like that of Marx. The best that I observed about these power hungry entities doing was just giving lip service in chorus in support of the agitation. They were all secretly following their own political agenda hiding under the large canvass created by JP and ready to hoodwink him at the first available opportunity.
I was disenchanted not only by those seasoned ones but was also averse to in-group with the new bred mushroomed militants who were bent upon discarding those seasoned ones in every step. Somewhere in my mind, I found myself by the side of Gandhi, who believed being blind to the fault of his elders. I could not get along with Chhotan Shukla like inmates who often threw their weight around to subdue even elderly. Besides, there were some other tricksters too who always were in look out to take the simpletons for a ride. Ironically, it was that group that managed to overcast the horizon of politics in the name of oft repeated plank of ‘social justice’ particularly in Bihar.
The worst aftermath of JP agitation was later observed in crumbling of social standard giving rise to ‘jungle raj’ which promoted hatred among multiple sections of society. However, in no way I intend to undermine the ills existing in society prior to JP agitation, but what bothered me was that it acquired a much larger space. The ugly face of muscle power which was confined to some limited sections of traditional society was widespread everywhere. The language acquired a new dimension, rough language commanded respect, etiquette and submissiveness was categorised as weaknesses, hooliganism was the order of the day, so on and so forth.
Bihar, once known for rich culture and heritage, has now turned into chaos and disorder - thanks to the bunch of ‘socialists’ and stalwarts of ‘social justice’. I don’t subscribe to the view that Nitish or for that matter all those who succeeded Lalu Prasad, were the pioneer of bringing end to the ‘jungle raj’. This belief is living in fools’ paradise. It was, it seems, the collective efforts of election commission, judiciary and impact of formidable public opinion that brought Lalu to his knees. I recall how the essential commodities used to disappear from market prior to any emergency – availability, but for a price. It might have been the result of 1971 war but common gentry would not buy that argument then and was waiting for a spark that came in form of Indira’s blunder of emergency.
Some say Nitish Kumar has brought hope and development. It appears a myth to me. Initially, it looked things changing. In my view, the areas where Nitish Kumar exhibited the ‘change’ are roads sans traffic control, government buildings sans modus operandi, education without teaching and reading. It makes me recall Nehru who wrote once that ‘good roads and beautiful buildings are not the sign of civilization’ and I’m sure JP would have not considered this enough in the realm of his concept of ‘total revolution’. Certainly, lots of bridges have been built by the Nitish government to connect the places but at the cost of dismantling social bridges which connect the people together.
Talking about fighting corruption, he enacted a piece of legislation but then, enforced it sparingly. Didn’t he behave like Nero in Rome when Bihar was being destroyed? His deliberate disappearance from Bihar during anarchy of Lalu makes him an accomplice too of all misconducts what he accuses the latter of. Didn’t he also promote further divide in society as that of Lalu?
When I recapitulate, my view of importance of education in life gets more strengthened particularly looking at the apathy of Bihar. The education system in Bihar started withering away somewhere in seventies. And most of the JP activists, particularly the young ones, were those who were unemployed basically because being ill-educated. The agitation was a way to give vent to their anger against establishment. Much water has ever since rolled down the Ganges; the education system is yet to come on track in Bihar. No effort has ever been made to upgrade the teaching skills in teachers nor have the schools been equipped with bare minimum academic paraphernalia. Consequently, foolishness and ignorance has now reached zenith where parents, who should have been more concerned to inculcate values in their children, are taking all risks to pass answer chits to their wards in the examination hall through the windows while hanging by it, even up to two floor high.
Nitish has brought no radical improvement nor is there any effective programme towards this in sight so far. One chief reason of this shoddy state of affairs is that he is surrounded by mostly the same sycophants who deserted Lalu when his ship was believed to be sinking. He replaced Shahabuddin with Anant Singh at his best. Nevertheless, credit must be given to Nitish as he, at the least, tried to bring changes in governance in Bihar, however cosmetic one may find them. He also deserves a place for being ‘lesser evil’ in the contemporary world. How he tackles the deception and likely backstabbing by Lalu at the time of a crucial turn of political event is to be seen. He can afford to forget Charan Singh as the story has gathered much dust till now but he cannot forget Manjhi as the memory is afresh and, the BJP at the helm of affairs.