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“We do not have to tolerate corruption”
In an exclusive interaction, Nitish Kumar, Chief Minister, Bihar talks to Anuradha Preetam about how a new Bihar is shaping up; leaving behind its tag of being a disaster in terms of law and order, the roadblocks ahead, the growth plans and much more...
Issue Date - 15/03/2012
B&E: Bihar has registered tremendous growth over the past few years and you promise that the story will only continue further. But on the industrialisation front, it needs investments. How are you planning to attract new investments to Bihar?
Nitish Kumar (NK): There are a number of proposals. We are getting investments in sectors like food processing and agriculture. And we expect more investments to flow in.

B&E: But the state is yet to see those big ticket investments. After spending seven years at the helm of the affairs, why are the giant domestic and foreign private investors still hesitant to enter Bihar in your view?
NK: We cannot say that private investors are not coming. But yes, you may be right in saying that we are yet to see a number of those big ticket investments, though we have seen some in the power sector. The major issue (expectations of investors) for the state is its coal linkage and that is something, which is not in our control. We tried, but coal linkage has not been given to us, neither in the 11th plan nor in the 12th plan, which is nearly ready. The real problem for us is that even the power and energy sector in the state is not being able to function properly due to the lack of coal linkage.

B&E: Does that mean that the Central government is responsible for the lack of investment in the state? Do you blame this situation on the fact that it’s a non-UPA state?
NK: Definitely. The money that the centre allocates should necessarily be based on ‘comparative advantage’. Bihar is a backward state, still it has not received any advantage. I have raised this issue earlier and I am going to raise it again at the centre. See, industrialists will come to set up industries here only when they see sufficient infrastructure facilities to do so. But do we have those? No. Just for example, the central government should build the National Highway. But it’s not happening. Wherever the state government needs to do something, we have done that. For that matter, we have spent a thousand crore rupees for the roads that the centre should have built.

B&E: So how are you planning to deal with the problem?
NK: Not only the industrialists, even the common man needs a favourable atmosphere to get started. We have already began working on this and are planning to take it forward step by step. Things will happen but they will happen gradually. People of Bihar were sick and tired of the environment they were living in. They wanted a change, and they brought it. They trusted us one time and then reposed their faith in us for the second time. We aim to set such high standards that there is no other alternative for it. I function with this vision in my mind.

B&E: Improvement in the law and order situation in Bihar is one of the most talked about things currently. Are you satisfied with the situation now?
NK: It is for the people to judge. For me, it is a continuous process. It needs to be maintained and bettered all the time. When we came in first, there was anger inside the masses; they wanted a change. We promised them that we will change the law and order situation, remove terror and bring in development for all; and not just for a particular section of people. And thus we tried to establish the authority of law and authority of the state without any bias. This was not the scene earlier. I understood that for the common man to feel confident, the government needed to take the first step. So I ordered that in matters under the Arms Act, where a government witness should appear in the court, it should be ensured that he does. And then the others followed suit. One thing led to the other and there were speedy trials and convictions too. Over the past six years, seventy thousand people have been convicted. This created a high level of confidence in the people of Bihar. To turn things around you need a will. We had that will, and people supported it. And things changed.

B&E: What do you think should be the next step to further improve the situation in Bihar?
NK: It is simple. We need to continue doing what we are doing at a regular pace. We do not have to tolerate corruption. This is a regular process – intervene immediately where required. If one goes wrong, he needs to admit it and correct it. This will keep the system moving in the right direction. People just need to follow one fundamental – Hamesha sachet, satark aur sakriya rahiye (Be alert, cautious & active always).

B&E: It is difficult to prosecute and convict corrupt bureaucrats in India. But you seem to have gained some expertise in this field. Can you share with us how you managed this in Bihar?
NK: With vision, will and determination. I was in no mood to compromise. My actions showed that and such people got the message loud and clear. There was no escape for them. Most of them got punished or are getting punished, however big or small they may be.

B&E: How have the bureaucrats reacted to your strong moves like confiscation of property, assets et al?]
NK: I believe that the bureaucrats are totally enjoying working in this situation. Unless they are with us, how can the policies be implemented? They are working now, even on Sundays, and are liking it. I am travelling most of the time to be amongst the people. Wherever and whenever required, the bureaucrats join me too. As such, in this era of communication, distance does not matter. Work is no more a burden for them. But I would add that there are exceptions everywhere, in all walks of life and in all places. Why only Bihar?

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