Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The next Bangalore

Bihar has arrived, in international media that is. India's poorest and most lawless state has voted for development proclaims Business Week. The magazine goes on to state-

Biharis voted for economic development and rejected the candidate who had ruled the state on the basis of caste for 15 years. The meaning is clear: Bihar aspires to be like Bangalore, India's tech capital. That brings Bihar into the mainstream of the new India.

Pardon me for puncturing the unbridled enthusiasm of an international magazine which presumably knows next to nothing about political equations in India's own wild wild west. According to some reports, Lalu Yadav suffered a vote loss of only 0.87%, hardly the stuff of categorical rejection, however this being India's coalition politics, it cost him a very disproportionate share of seats benefiting Nitish Kumar led NDA immensely. India's public has rarely rewarded growth or sensible economic policy focusing on more down to earth issues like who is providing free electricity, what is the caste of the candidate, who is providing daaru for votes or who is building a Mandir at God knows where. I , for one , do not believe that Bihar public which as recently as February voted Lalu's RJD as single largest party is suddenly aspiring to make Patna the next Bangalore. Anybody proclaiming otherwise just needs to look up Marxists' non-stop victorious record in West bengal or NDA's heavy defeat despite a very strong economic growth , which by the way did make a nice omelette on the faces of pollsters or Chandarbabu Naidu's heavy defeat in Andhra. Electoral politics in India is very complex and interplay of many factors decide the final outcome but I doubt that development or growth is a very significant one among them especially in India's most BIMARU state.

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