Debating India

BIHAR

It’s much worse than we thought

Sunday 11 December 2005, by VARGHESE*George K., YADAV*J.P.

Ever since he took charge as Bihar’s Chief Minister, Nitish Kumar has not stopped smiling. In the Chief minister’s cabin in the state Assembly, Nitish is surrounded by MLAs, followers and the media. The euphoria that spreads across Bihar is, not surprisingly, most tangible here. However, barely a week in office, Nitish is realising that winning the elections was easy, compared to the long haul ahead. He is cautious, doesn’t make flamboyant promises and appears determined, in a conversation with J P Yadav and Varghese K George of The Sunday Express.

? Do you think the job is tougher than initially thought?

Even the basic institutional structure of the administration is missing in Bihar. It is much worse than we thought but we are determined to deliver. We will convert this challenge into an opportunity. Things will take time to improve. But law and order is the immediate challenge.

? So have you identified the key problems in managing the law and order situation?

Law and order has totally collapsed. Policing in the state has not been effective at all. All areas are badly in need for improvisation. Police were not allowed to do their duties according to law. It has been a chronic case of misuse and disuse of the police system. Deployment is bad and the system is politicised.

? So how and where will you start?

The law and order system is so fragile and moth-eaten that if I take drastic measures things will crumble further. But there is no alternative. So I will do it carefully and in a phased-manner.

? What’s the first step?

To stop politicisation of the police

? How?

New recruitments will be transparent and merit-based.

? What about the existing mess?

I have asked the police to do their duty professionally and according to the law. De-politicising the system means police have to give results and result is all that will matter. I have told them that there will be no political interference.

? Have you told your ministers and MLAs not to interfere in policing?

Our entire election campaign was based on this promise. They (ministers and MLAs) know that. Signal from the top is what they should go by.

? But some of your party MLAs are known as running crime syndicates. What do you expect officers to do then? Will the police move against them?

The law has to prevail irrespective of who is involved. The signal is clear: the police have to deliver.

? So you will take action against your colleagues?

Come what may, the police will have to deliver. The police will have to create an atmosphere in which people feel secure and development work can take place without hindrance.

See online : The Indian Express

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