On Tuesday, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar announced in Patna that his government will build 1,000 higher secondary schools in the state each year to increase literacy among youths and make them ready for the job market once they finish their schooling. He said this at the third foundation day programme of the Bihar State Educational Infrastructure Development Corporation (BSEIDC). He also inaugurated 150 schools built by the BSEIDC in the last three years.
On the very next day, eleven children died after consuming poisoned mid-day meal in a primary school in Chhapra in Bihar. Twenty-seven more were struggling for their lives in a hospital in Patna. Violent protests broke out in the area with opposition demanding the chief minister's ouster.
Is setting up buildings only cater to key social sectors like education or is it something more? We have another leader in Mamata Banerjee in the neighbouring West Bengal who also eyes similar populist agenda to secure the vote-banks without doing anything substantial on the ground.
Secularism: A veil to hide all failure
These populist leaders, who claim themselves as secularists and project themselves as the saviour of the minorities against the 'communal' forces, focus little on universal uplift of the conditions of the commoners. It is ironical but these secular leaders go on ranting about 'communal threats' but they do so to hide their failure in governance.
Nitish Kumar, Mamata Banerjee: Leaders from the same school
Consider the case of Nitish and Mamata. These two leaders sincerely hope to launch a fresh political forum and severed ties with two national parties, the BJP and Congress, respectively. While the former said a couple of days ago that his party's move to end the alliance with the BJP was justified over Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's 'communal' remarks, the latter said on Wednesday that her party had committed a blunder by allying with the Congress in the 2011 assembly elections.
Both leaders have another similarity.
Being in the government, they continue to attack their respective oppositions and paint them with the same brush, accusing them of hatching conspiracy. They do this because they have been struggling to put up a strong model of governance.
While Nitish had still earned a reputation as a good administrator, the recent Maoist attacks, the bomb blasts at Bodh Gaya temple and now the children's death in a school, have put that reputation at great peril. Mamata Banerjee, on the other hand, is yet to decide whether she is a chief minister or a leader of the opposition.
Finding enemies but not doing what's to be done
These leaders, whose only political ideologies are populism and opportunism, are only obsessed with vote-banks and to ensure that they win the next assembly polls as well. They attack the Centre and the right-wing forces thinking that it would earn them an extra political brownie point. But on the ground, they continue to ignore those who bring them to power.
Be it the parents of those innocent children who continue to die in a remote hospital in Bengal or of those little students whom they send to school so that they can become good citizens in the future.
Don't just set up buildings and dig ponds (Banerjee on Wednesday claimed that her government has dug up 52,000 ponds in the last two years while the target was 50,000 in five years!) dear leaders. Please also ensure that there is a discipline and a touch of care in the system over which you rule. Otherwise, the mindless ranting against Narendra Modi and others will give way to nothing.
Nitish felt vindicated after Modi's interview controversy, really?
As for Nitish Kumar, he should feel vindicated if Bihar does better than everybody else and not because he made an opportunistic move by projecting his 'secular' credentials.