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'People Fear Bihar Will Slide Into Anarchy If Lalu Returns'

'People Fear Bihar Will Slide Into Anarchy If Lalu Returns'

Publication: Tehelka
Date: May 16, 2009
URL: http://www.tehelka.com/story_main41.asp?filename=Ne160509people_fear.asp

Introduction: Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi tells AJIT SAHI that the state has made progress despite the Centre's non-cooperation

Q.: The NDA is tipped to sweep Bihar in the Lok Sabha elections. If this turns out to be true, what would you attribute this success to?
A.: Turning around law and order has been our biggest achievement, bigger than even bringing development. For 15 years [1990-2005: the rule of Lalu Prasad Yadav and Rabri Devi], people lived in dread of criminals, including in the rural areas. Now, kidnappings are drastically reduced. Criminals are being convicted. In every panchayat, there is development. New buildings for schools are coming up. We have built roads everywhere. We have also given due representation to all castes, because that's important in Bihar. On the other hand, people fear that if Lalu comes back to power, the state will slide back into anarchy.

Q.: Rahul Gandhi has praised your government in Bihar. What has been your experience with the UPA?
A.: Very bad. They gave us only Rs 1,000 crore for the floods last year. We submitted an urgent plan for Rs 14,000 crore for rehabilitation but they sat on it. The Centre doesn't even give us Bihar's fixed quota of electricity, kerosene and foodgrains.

Q.: You claim strides in development. But the power situation in Bihar is still very bad.
A.: There were two power plants in Bihar, one in Muzaffarpur district, which George Fernandes had brought when he became Union Industries Minister in 1977, and another in Barauni, which was 50 years old. Both shut down during Lalu's regime. We have revived both. But Bihar still generates only 150mw. We have power proposals from leading companies and can produce 10,000mw. But the Centre needs to give us links to coal reserves, which it isn't doing.

Q.: Your government set up a land reforms commission, but Bihar has seen no radical reorganisation of land ownership since the government came to power.
A.: The Bhoodan Movement of Vinoba Bhave of over four decades ago had seen four lakh acres of land donated for redistribution to the poor and the landless. That never happened. Many things are in the pipeline.

Q.: You claim you have come down heavily against criminals. But your partner, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's JD-U has fielded convicted murderer Munna Shukla from Vaishali for the Lok Sabha.
A.: Nobody can accuse our government of patronising criminals as Lalu did when he ruled Bihar. During our rule, Munna Shukla went to jail, was convicted, and is out on bail without any interference from us.

Q.: Do you fear Rahul Gandhi and his Congress will break the NDA in Bihar?
A.: I have seen Rahul Gandhi very closely in Parliament. He has a long way to go. His statement is highly immature.

Q.: It is believed that the JD-U has forced you off the BJP's traditional Hindutva agenda.
A.: A state government's agenda is bringing roads, electricity and water. Where is Hindutva in this?

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