RJD Govt will be remembered for massacres
By Sachchidanand Jha
The Times of India News Service
PATNA: The nine-year rule of Laloo Prasad Yadav and his wife Rabri Devi will be long remembered for massacres. With social justice being its main plank, the Laloo-Rabri rule gave backward castes and Dalits a voice and a kind of assertiveness never witnessed before March 1990, when charismatic Mr Yadav took over the reins of power in Bihar riding a wave of popularity.
Still their government could not prevent ghastly killings of hundreds of Dalits in central and South Bihar. Starting with the Baathe massacre in Jehanababd district, in which an armed squad of Ranvir Sena, a banned private army of upper caste landlords, butchered 61 innocent Dalits on December 1, 1997, the 18-month-old Rabri regime has alone witnessed killing of more than a hundred Dalits so far. Rabri took over as chief minister on July 25, 1997.
The state has witnessed about 7,000 rape incidents since 1990 with 1,585 reported in 1998 alone. Similarly, more than 55,000 murders have taken place during the last nine years with 5,235 taking place in the last year. This included murders of three MLAs, including that of firebrand CPM leader Ajit Sarkar. During the same year, 1,305 cases of kidnapping for ransom were recorded.
In fact, it was the killing of 23 Dalits at Shankarbigha and 12 at Narainpur in Jehanabad district within a span of 17 days this year by the Sena which led to the imposition of President's Rule in the state on February 12. It was, however, revoked after 25 days.
The state has also witnessed the Bara, Rampur Chauram, Rampur Aiyara, Usri Bazar and Bhimpura massacres of upper caste Bhumihars by militants over the period.
Opposition parties, including the BJP, have charged Mr Yadav with extending patronage to both left and right wing extremist organisations to derive political mileage out of the caste war leading to massacres.
SCAMS GALORE: The RJD national president Laloo Prasad Yadav himself ruled the state for seven years, four months and 15 days out of these nine years during which several scams rocked the state. These include Rs 1,153 crore fodder scam, Rs 400 crore bitumen scam, Rs 300 crore medicine scam, engineering examination racket and muster roll scam. All these scams are currently being investigated by the CBI.
DECLINE IN POPULARITY: Laloo had the dubious distinction of twice being sent to jail in connection with two fodder scam cases in which he had been chargesheeted by the CBI. The unearthing of fodder scam in January 1996 led to sudden fall in the popularity of Mr Yadav even among his constituents, with Kurmis and Koeris, the two important backward castes, and a section of Dalits, shifting their loyalty to the BJP- Samata Party.
ECONOMY IN DISARRAY: With Mr Yadav playing the Mandal card since October 1990 to woo backwards to broaden his mass base, the state administration started drifting and the state could never meet the annual plan target during the last nine years. Despite the foreign visits of Mr Yadav, no NRI came forward to make investment in the state due to poor law and order as well as poor infrastructural facilities.