22/01/2016 8:23 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST

Jungle Raj Isn't Back, But Nitish Must Tame Bihar's Fears

Hindustan Times via Getty Images
NEW DELHI, INDIA - AUGUST 19: JDU leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar during an interview at Hindustan Times House on August 19, 2015 in New Delhi, India. Aam Aadmi Party leader and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal will campaign against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the run-up to the Bihar assembly polls. (Photo by Raj K Raj/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

There's been a widely covered spurt of crime in Bihar, with the BJP demanding the intervention of the governor following the shooting death of a jeweller on 16 January. Other high-profile cases that made the news were the killings of three techies in two separate incidents - two engineers from a road construction company were shot dead in Darbhanga on 26 December; the matter was complicated by the allegation that their police protection was withdrawn just before the incident. And then, a couple of days later a quality manager for a private telecom company was found with his throat slit in Bharti village in Vaishali district. These, along with a slew of other violent crimes, have been raised serious questions about the state's law and order situation.

Opposition parties, especially the BJP, have dubbed the situation in Bihar as Jungle Raj part-II'. Sources also said that many investors interested in Bihar's development program postponed their plans for six months to watch the law and order situation. Prime Minister Modi himself has commented on the issue, saying that rising crime will drive away investors.

However, the crime data doesn't back this theory, and it remains to be established if the Lalu Yadav-Nitish Kumar coalition has led to any changes in the existing scenario. The term "Jungle Raj" also implies a system in which no follow-up action is taken up after a crime. During Lalu's rule there were allegations of criminals being protected by politicians. The police was unable to act or even arrest criminals despite being armed with evidence.

This is not the situation in Bihar now. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar held meetings with top police officers fixing accountability on them. Various police teams are pursuing rigorous investigations into all the murders. The intent appears to be honest. Hence to say that Jungle Raj has returned is not only premature but probably incorrect. The BJP and other opposition parties should demand the arrest of culprits instead of engaging in politics of blame.

Meanwhile, Nitish Kumar is faced with a tough challenge ahead. He must be aware that although Bihar has given him landslide mandate, they have not forgotten the mayhem of Lalu's tenure. He has to act fast and very effectively to restore the trust of the public that the law and order situation will not deteriorate. He should also remember that development and investment in the state is always directly proportional to the condition of law and order in the state. If he fails to do this, the people will not be forgiving in the next elections.

I hope Nitish Kumar knows all this and will ensure that public trust is restored. The perception of "Jungle Raj returns" need to be defeated in the interests of Bihar.

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