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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

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Perspective | Oped

PERSPECTIVE

A Tribune Special
Blueprint for growth
Strengthen villages to check migration to cities, says Mohan Dharia
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in his second innings, has given top priority for more investment and adequate employment opportunities in the context of global recession. While his approach is laudable, an agenda for “inclusive growth” with priority on certain basic sectors is necessary.

US aid to Pakistan: The unforeseen risks
by Joshua Meah
There is widespread consensus amongst Indians, Pakistanis, Americans and other interested parties that the key to bringing prosperity to Pakistan lay in the development of its civil institutions as opposed to or even at the expense of its military.


EARLIER STORIES

In the dark
July 11, 2009
Zardari speaks
July 10, 2009
Riots in Urumqi
July 9, 2009
Murder of an unknown Indian
July 8, 2009
An ‘aam aadmi’ budget
July 7, 2009
Renewed offensive
July 6, 2009
Left, BJP on a slide
July 5, 2009
Mamata Express
July 4, 2009
The Judge who would cause no one any hurt
July 3, 2009
Who is the minister?
July 2, 2009
Statues don’t vote
July 1, 2009
Waiting for the monsoon
June 30, 2009



OPED

Naxalites in Chhattisgarh
It’s no more a socio-economic problem, but terrorist menace by Man Mohan, who recently travelled through the interior of Chhattisgarh
The tide has started turning against Maoists (commonly known as Naxalites) in Chhattisgarh. As Chhattisgarh is located in the centre of the ‘Red Corridor’ that runs through the dense tribal forest zone from the Nepal border to Andhra Pradesh, it is going to play a key role in the final fight against red terror.

Profile
Hard work key to Nilekani’s success
by Harihar Swarup
From IT industry’s czar to the post of chairman of the National Unique Identification Authority (NUIA) has been quite a leap for Nandan Nilekani. His mission now is to give every Indian citizen an identification card which would make life easier for him. The card will contain the citizen’s name, sex, date and place of birth and a 16-digit identification number and photograph. This will be useful for opening bank accounts, pension, transferring property, purchasing travel tickets and registering in hospitals. It will also be proof of identity, marital status and citizenship.

On Record
Let Mamata redo her arithmetic, says Lalu
by Faraz Ahmad
Since Lalu Prasad and his RJD got routed in the general elections, he is facing rough weather. He spoke candidly in an interview to The Sunday Tribune about his present misfortunes. He is also incensed with Mamata Banerjee for not recognising his contribution to the Railways.



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A Tribune Special
Blueprint for growth
Strengthen villages to check migration to cities, says Mohan Dharia

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in his second innings, has given top priority for more investment and adequate employment opportunities in the context of global recession. While his approach is laudable, an agenda for “inclusive growth” with priority on certain basic sectors is necessary.

More investment in basic infrastructure like energy, steel, fertilisers, pesticides, communication and roads including highways and particularly for the Scientific Watershed Programme in all the six lakh villages is urgently required. The government should call for such investment from NRIs, foreign countries and institutions like the International Monetary Fund.

Thousands of villages are deprived of potable drinking water. In view of the acute scarcity of water and food, we must conserve every drop of rainwater, prevent soil erosion and plant millions of trees every year. This calls for a scientific watershed development programme and greening in a time-bound manner in all the villages as suggested by the high power committee headed by this writer.

The Eleventh Five-Year Plan rightly expects the agricultural growth rate of 4 per cent. It is possible to exceed this target through a sound package for sowing, supply of quality seeds, storage, processing and marketing, assured remunerative price, crop insurance and credit facilities at 4 per cent rate of interest. Otherwise, the government may consider providing credit @ 4 per cent to small and marginal farmers who are dependent on rains and up to 6 per cent to those having over two hectares of irrigated lands.

The Scientific Watershed Development Programme, the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and similar schemes could generate employment opportunities to millions of our people. We must introduce innovative programmes for generating self-employment among all educated youth.

The government should make available 10 per cent seed money and loans to viable projects through nationalised, commercial or cooperative banks. This programme was successfully tried during 1973-74 under the “Jobs for half a million educated youth” scheme when this writer was a Union Minister.

Millions of families are dependent on handlooms, handicrafts and similar occupations. The government should encourage these traditional occupations by restructuring the Khadi and Village Industries Commission with adequate funds and proper management.

There is an increasing demand for hand-made goods and articles in global market these days. Training to develop skills, modern attractive packaging and marketing are equally necessary to make such products more competitive.

Despite 62 years of Independence, over 30 crore people are illiterate. The government should take up a time-bound programme by involving millions of teachers and students to eradicate illiteracy within 3-4 years.Education must be purposeful and productive. Vocational training should be a major part of our educational system. The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan should work on these lines with a specific direction to inculcate patriotism, values and disciplined life among the taught.

Infant morality and mortality of pregnant and lactating mothers is a serious problem. The government should initiate action to prevent infant mortality and save lives of pregnant and lactating mothers. An integrated medical system along with locally produced nutritious food, milk etc. with proper education and awakening could meet this challenge.

Nearly 22 per cent of India’s geographical area is in the possession of the Forest Department. The government should bring all forest land under the green cover through the Joint Forestry Management” (JFM) programme in 4-5 years. It should encourage the farmers and private sector to take up productive programmes including mango, cashew, tea, coffee and medicinal or other species to bring 11 per cent or more private area under the green cover. The NREGS and other schemes should be made available to encourage such cultivators. It must be the country’s resolve to maintain one-third area under permanent green cover to save environment.

Unplanned industrialisation, urbanisation, increasing number of vehicles, cutting of trees and forests are leading to air, noise and water pollution. Urgent measures are required to control pollution and save India from the threat of global warming.

The Naxalite activity, initially confined to 7-8 districts, has now spread to 110 districts posing a challenge to law and order. it would be possible to tackle it after assessing the basic causes for its spread. If proper training, employment opportunities and incomes are provided to the youth, the Naxalite violence can be resolved.

Owing to expected availability of employment opportunities in cities, there is increasing migration of people from rural to urban areas. As a result, all the cities are overcrowded. Villages should be strengthened by providing adequate job opportunities and basic facilities like education, health, transport and communications. Well-planned new urban centres should also be created.

The Vanarai Foundation has successfully proved that reverse migration is possible by developing local natural resources such as land, water, cattle wealth, forests, medical species, bio-mass, sea shore of 7,000 km and providing adequate job opportunities.

Though the Directive Principles in our Constitution lay emphasis on decentralisation, the present policy of allotting money for more amenities in congested cities is against these principles. The government should adopt a new national policy for urban and rural development.

According to the Planning Commission, nearly 25 million households need good shelter. The rural houses are too unhealthy and poor. Millions of kachha houses don’t have even a window. There is need for habitable houses with toilet, kitchen, cattle shed and other facilities. It is possible through peoples’ involvement by using local material and their partial contribution.

Housing cooperatives with marginal incentives could help implement this programme through Shramdan. The government should launch a special programme for plantation in every village. Such plantations will take care of habitable houses to all in rural and semi-urban areas.

India is world’s number one milk and sugar producing country because of the cooperative network. The Centre and the states should focus on advancing the democratic cooperative movement from producers to consumers including processing, warehousing and marketing. The Public Distribution System should be streamlined.

The existing Planning Commission and the National Development Council need to be restructured. The Planning Commission consists of Deputy Chairman and 5-6 full-time members. The Deputy Chairman and members should be nominated in consultation with the Leaders of Opposition in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha both of whom should also be made members.

The NDC consists of the Planning Commission members and Chief Ministers or Governors. It should also include the presidents of all recognised political parties. Five-Year Plans or Annual Plans thus prepared by the Planning Commission and approved by the NDC shall naturally be a national Plan and not that of a particular party. The 5-year or yearly plans prepared by the restructured Planning Commission and NDC will have to be implemented by the Centre and the states without any reservation.

The government should also constitute autonomous national missions to develop and make productive all wastelands and our natural resources to take care of drinking water, food, energy and environment; eradicate illiteracy, control population, and create job opportunities and abolish poverty.

The writer, a former Union Minister and Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, is presently Chairman, Vanarai Foundation, a Pune-based NGO engaged in integrated development of rural India

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US aid to Pakistan: The unforeseen risks
by Joshua Meah

There is widespread consensus amongst Indians, Pakistanis, Americans and other interested parties that the key to bringing prosperity to Pakistan lay in the development of its civil institutions as opposed to or even at the expense of its military.

Consequently, the Enhanced Strategic Partnership with Pakistan legislation that is currently making its way through the US Congress, constitutes in theory a boost to the Pakistani private economy, civil society, judicial system, and education infrastructure, each area needing development as a prerequisite to Pakistan growing a tolerant, non-violent, and civilian-led democracy.

The Bill, also known as “Kerry-Lugar” after the name of the US Senators that sponsored it, designates $ 1.5 billion in socio-economic aid to Pakistan annually from 2009 to 2013 with a clause that allows for potential extension of the legislation into 2018. Kerry-Lugar is also meant to signal a recognition by US policymakers that mutual interests are served by “strengthening and deepening” the “long history of friendship and comity” between the two countries.

However, the legislation is deeply flawed. It lacks teeth to guarantee the money is allocated appropriately, rests on a foundation of US foreign assistance policy that has proved definitively ineffective in the recent past. It shows a misunderstanding of core motivations and incentives within Islamabad that is sure to undermine the central goals of the legislation.

First, included in the write-up of the Bill is a clause that allows the US Secretary of State to disburse funds regardless of whether Pakistan allocates the money appropriately as long as the Secretary determines that “it is important to the national security interests of the United States.” Given the demonstrated reliance of the US on the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency to fight contingents of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban (both its Afghan and Pakistani forms), this waiver renders the legislation feckless.

Other than US uses of the Predator and Reaper drones, which have killed about 700 civilians and valued targets at a high public relations cost in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), US military activity in Pakistan is minimal.

Yet, with much of the Taliban’s leadership residing in Quetta and other Pakistani cities, the ISI will remain indispensable. The very nature of the strategic alliance between Washington and Islamabad functionally leaves the latter with the lever of power regarding whether aid is disbursed.

Washington once attempted a similar aid package with the 1985 Pressler Amendment to regulate the development of Pakistan’s nuclear programme, but Washington’s interests in the region and strategic reliance with Islamabad against the Soviet Union resulted in then President Reagan regularly exercising his “waiver” power.

Secondly, Washington has proven incompetent in managing its own foreign assistance policy. According to the Congressionally-appointed Wartime Contracting Commission, despite 1,287 recommendations in 537 reports submitted to various agencies in the US government about how to review and account properly for various aid initiatives in Iraq and Afghanistan, “there is still no clear picture of who the contractors in the theatre are, what services they provide and which contracts they perform.”

Additionally, 70 per cent of the work contracted out to a primary contractor (which the Washington oversees) is given out to subcontractors (which Washington does not oversee). And of the 2,40,000 contract employees, 80 per cent are foreign nationals. This poses a special and likely dangerous scenario in Pakistan where aid groups like Jaamut-e-Dawa, working with the three million Pakistani Internally Displaced People, are actually fronts for groups like the protector and ally of Al-Qaeda and the recent perpetrator of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Thirdly, assuming that the legislation was used effectively, it essentially frees up $ 15 billion over the next 10 years of Pakistani taxpayer money that Islamabad no longer needs to divert towards development of its own society. Like petrodollars in Saudi Arabia, this enables Islamabad to provide Pakistani civilians with a few basic public services without political accountability.

If past recent trends hint at the present, much of the non-allocated Pakistani taxpayer money can be expected to flow into the ISI’s support of Islamic militancy in Kashmir or to reinforce its Army along the shared border with India. The general theme of corruption within Islamabad is also an issue.

Regardless, if the proof of effective aid policy is in the evidence of associated expenditures, then an article in The Guardian in 2008 must be especially alarming, which found that in a review of $ 5.4 billion in aid given to Pakistan, 70 per cent had been “misspent.”

Though the challenges to the legislation’s success are daunting, there are a few reasonable suggestions Washington ought to consider. First, remove the waiver clause. Without the waiver, the legislation grants unquestioned power to the US Congress to evaluate and closely scrutinise how the aid is spent and then determine whether next year’s disbursement should be released. This puts real pressure on Islamabad to adhere to at least some metric of meaningful economic and political development.

Secondly, add the Kashmiri militant group Hizb-e-Mujahideen to the list of terrorist groups of which Pakistan ought to suppress. In March, while the US supported the Pakistan Army’s assault in the FATA and Northwest Frontier Province, 54 militants associated with Hizb-e-Mujahideen and other terrorist groups with reported ties to the ISI crossed the Line of Control into Indian-Administered Kashmir, reportedly the “highest amount” of militant infiltration during that time period in the past five years.

To Washington, terrorism on Pakistan’s east coast ought to be viewed just as problematic as terrorism on its west coast, especially given proven links to groups that support the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Only when the ISI’s militant proxies are squelched can there be hope that Islamabad moderates and modernises.

Thirdly, consider honestly whether such an aid package is realistic. Understanding one’s own weakness is an important strength. The imperial hubris of the previous Bush administration to reshape the Middle East through a full destruction and then reconstruction of Iraq substantially undermined US credibility worldwide while weakening the US economy.

Not to mention, the short- and long-term political and economic stability in Iraq is still in question. If, according to Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz, it took three trillion dollars of US blood and treasure over the past six years to get Iraq to where it is today, then what exactly can one half of one percent of that ($15 billion) over the next 10 years in Pakistan be expected to accomplish?

The writer is a researcher in the Centre for International Relations, Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi

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Naxalites in Chhattisgarh
It’s no more a socio-economic problem, but terrorist menace by Man Mohan, who recently travelled through the interior of Chhattisgarh

The tide has started turning against Maoists (commonly known as Naxalites) in Chhattisgarh. As Chhattisgarh is located in the centre of the ‘Red Corridor’ that runs through the dense tribal forest zone from the Nepal border to Andhra Pradesh, it is going to play a key role in the final fight against red terror.

Recently, the CPI (Maoist) was declared a national terrorist outfit. Credit goes to Chhattisgarh for breaching the ‘Red Corridor’ recently in its two northern districts, Sarguja and Jashpur. Maoists have been flushed out from there. For the first time, the Maoists have officially abolished the zonal committee but have declared that they “will recapture the area.”

Thousands have died in Maoist violence since the tribal-dominated Chhattisgarh came into existence in November 2000, after splitting from Madhya Pradesh. About 90 per cent casualties have been in Bastar.

Barring Sarguja and Jashpur districts, most of the forest and rural areas of Chhattisgarh’s other 16 districts are Naxal-infested. The police and security forces need more manpower and air mobility to be offensive.

Rich with minerals (including diamonds), Chhattisgarh’s 44 per cent area is under forest. Red terror has spread over the decades, thanks to the state administration’s apathy, corruption and no economic development, especially in Bastar.

Although the BJP-ruled Chhattisgarh and other Naxal affected states, including West Bengal and the Centre have started thinking of catching the bull by its horns, the joint political will to go for a full-fledged attack on Maoists is missing. Perhaps, especially in Chhattisgarh, the fear is that thousands of innocent tribals may get killed in the crossfire as Maoists may use them as ‘human-shields.’

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recently described the Naxalite problem as “the single largest threat to India.” So far, the Naxalite menace has been treated as a state law and order problem.

Bastar’s dense jungle of bamboo, sal, teak, sheesam, high hills, valleys, waterfalls and streams is considered to be the Maoists’ centre of gravity. It is part of ‘Red Corridor’ (Maoists call it Dandakaranya Zone). In about 25,000 sq km area of Bastar, the writ of Maoists runs unhindered. They are running Jantana Sarkar (parallel government).

Recent years have recorded a spurt in Naxalite violence, destruction of public and private property, attacks on security forces, jailbreaks, looting of weapons from polices stations and levying of ‘tax.’ Since 2007, the Maoists have killed over 700 people, including members of security forces, and injured about 500.

The Naxalites’ initial appeal to stop “harassment” of tribesmen by the police, forest department, contractors and traders had helped them win the people’s hearts. They enlarged their territory by organising kangaroo courts (Jan Adalats) for instant justice, terror tactics, subversion of democratic institutions, attacks on police and propaganda.

Abujhmar (nearly Goa’s size) in west Bastar is the Maoists’ so-called “liberated zone.” Recently, the state government decided “to open the doors of this mystery land for the common man.” In the seventies, the entry of “outsiders” (Indians and foreigners) was banned after a BBC film showed tribal youths’ liberal lifestyle. The idea was to protect the tribals’ primitive life. But the Maoists gradually “captured” Abujhmar.

In Bastar, besides security forces, the Maoists’ number one enemy is the tribesmen who in Bijapur started a people’s movement — later called Salwa Jadum (peace march) — against them in 2005. The immediate provocation was Maoists’ decision to ban the collection of tendu patta used for making bidis, leading to unemployment. The Maoists retaliated, forcing the tribals to flee and live in the government relief camps. This is how Salwa Jadum was born.  

Maoists’ Politburo passed a resolution to smash it, putting into motion psychological-war machinery and “friendly network” of intellectuals, social and human rights activists and media. They described Salwa Jadum as “state-sponsored terrorism.” Many of its supporters, including tribal Special Police Officers, retaliated against Maoists who had killed their relatives and burnt houses. The Maoists have won this war too. Salwa Jadum has disintegrated.

Bastar may prove to be India’s Swat valley in the final fight to flush out Maoists. The Bastar forest is littered with landmines. Nearly 10,000 armed Maoist cadres are operating in Chhattisgarh. Over 5,000 of them are in Bastar. Over 40 per cent of the Maoists are tribal women, mostly poor and illiterate. But there are many law graduates, doctors, engineers and IT professionals from different parts of India. Maoists are also giving military training to children.

No effort is being made to choke the Maoists’ economic lifeline. They are collecting several thousand crores of rupees by levying “taxes”. Naxalism is no longer a socio-economic but a major terrorist problem. All Naxalite-affected states have no option but to go for a joint counter-operation to flush the Maoists out of ‘Red Corridor.’

India needs a final assault as was done by Sri Lanka to end the LTTE era. The strategy should be to clear and hold the areas “reclaimed” from the Naxalites. But the wheel of development must move in immediately. Otherwise, the red rebels will creep in again.

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Profile
Hard work key to Nilekani’s success
by Harihar Swarup

From IT industry’s czar to the post of chairman of the National Unique Identification Authority (NUIA) has been quite a leap for Nandan Nilekani. His mission now is to give every Indian citizen an identification card which would make life easier for him. The card will contain the citizen’s name, sex, date and place of birth and a 16-digit identification number and photograph. This will be useful for opening bank accounts, pension, transferring property, purchasing travel tickets and registering in hospitals. It will also be proof of identity, marital status and citizenship.

Nilekani was only 49 when he reached the dizzy height of success. Hard work, time management and teamwork have been his key words to success. “I believe that meritocracy and hard work are the foundation of all successful individuals and institutions. I would advice all young men and women to recognise, learn and assimilate changes and have the ability work as part of a team, submitting individual glory to team achievement”, he has been quoted as saying.

For a man who started as a software engineer and became head of one of India’s most admired companies, it has been a long journey in shortest possible time. He has indeed come a long way. When Nilekani entered the IIT campus in the summer of 1973, he was a clumsy 18-year-old youth from a small town, unused to the life of a big, sophisticated city like Mumbai. When he graduated five years later, he felt he had the experience and confidence to face the world.

One fine morning after graduation, Nilekani walked into the cabin of Narayana Murthy — then head of the software group at the Mumbai-based Patni Computer Systems — to seek a job. Their chemistry clicked and Murthy hired the young engineering graduate right away. Neither of them realised at that time that the relationship would last long and go down in India’s corporate history.

Three years later in 1981, seven young enthusiasts, led by Nilekani, decided to start their own outfit – Infosys Technologies. The “Magnificent Seven”, as they have come to be known, began work in a small flat in Pune owned by Narayana Murthy and with this rewriting the history of domestic software industry of India also began. Later, in 1983, they decided to shift the Infosys headquarters to Bangalore which had better infrastructure and housing facilities.

 Nilekani worked 12 to 14 hours a day and also associated himself with social work. One of his objectives was to raise the level of public governance in India. He chaired an organisation called the Bangalore Agenda Task Force which was a mixture of public and private partnership dedicated to make Bangalore a better city. Outside Bangalore, he involved himself in projects involving the improvement of 56 cities in Karnataka apart from e-governance and municipal governance.

He was also involved in various initiatives of the Central and state governments, becoming Chairman of the Central Government’s IT Task Force for the power sector.

Nilekani travels a lot; three to four times a year abroad and, perhaps, thrice a month within the country. And, in the free time, he prefers to spend at home with the family. His wife, Rohini Nilekani, is a writer and novelist in English. The couple has two children — daughter and son.

Nilekani looks to Nelson Mandela as a role model. “Mandela’s life has been a great source of inspiration to me. His determination and perseverance in the midst of extreme adversity is truly motivating”, he says.

He has steered Infosys to its first billion-dollar revenue in 2003. His company donated $22 million to a charity founded by his wife that focuses on water issues such as purification, rainwater, harvesting and getting supplies to the poor.

One of Nilekani’s mantra of management is transparency. “When in doubt, disclose” is one of Infosys’ corporate- governance philosophy. Politicians and businessmen do not get proper sleep and some keep awake the whole night. When someone recently asked Nilekani what is the key to sound sleep, his prompt reply was: “The softest pillow is a clear conscience”.n

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On Record
Let Mamata redo her arithmetic, says Lalu
by Faraz Ahmad

Lalu Prasad
Lalu Prasad

Since Lalu Prasad and his RJD got routed in the general elections, he is facing rough weather. He spoke candidly in an interview to The Sunday Tribune about his present misfortunes. He is also incensed with Mamata Banerjee for not recognising his contribution to the Railways.

Excerpts:
Q: You look visibly upset with your opponents’ charge that you juggled figures to show profits.

A: I am not disturbed. I have served Railways well. With the help of its 14 lakh employees, I have turned this loss-making outfit into a profitable one. This was the golden period of Indian Railways. Without any substantial hike in freight rates, the Railways showed a surplus of Rs 90,000 crore before paying dividends. They call this jugglery and fraud.

Mamataji wants to bring a White Paper. But this matter has passed the scrutiny of the Union Cabinet, the RBI, the C&AG and even the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Railways. She is saying there is a surplus of only Rs 8,000. Let her redo her arithmetic. She blamed me saying expenses went up and revenues dipped in last five years. So I said let a parliamentary committee scrutinise my work.

Q: You seem to have lost all your spirit. Is it because of the election defeat or losing ministerial comforts?

A: No. That is your imagination. People want to reduce the gravity of the situation. My rivals have their own agenda. They want to demoralise Lalu and his supporters.

Q: Do you feel used and rejected by the Congress?

A: Nobody closes his doors to anyone in politics. Now that the Congress and its allies have won enough numbers, why will they share power with us? This is all a power game. I don’t feel bitter against anyone. Getting a ministerial berth is not an issue. I have been long enough in government. The Delhi culture is such that they respect and pay obeisance only to power and whoever has the numbers. I don’t blame anyone for this.

Q: Who is responsible for your electoral defeat?

A: Voters take their own decisions. The BJP got only two seats in 1984 and then rose like phoenix. Rajiv Gandhi got 415 in the same elections and then what happened? Ask any Congress leader and he will tell you that they never dreamt of such impressive numbers. Several factors come into play. Jo jeeta wohi sikandar. Lekin jo hara woh khatam to nahin ho gaya (He who wins is the king. But the loser is not finished forever).

I am now doubtful and suspicious of the electronic voting machines. In Bihar, over 70 per cent of the poor people still don’t have a voter I-card and thus could not vote. This machine can be very easily manipulated and misused.

Q: Have you neglected your core constituency of the poor, backward classes and Dalits?

A: I don’t think so. Railways is a very sensitive department. After I took over my people’s aspirations about getting jobs in the Railways went up and meeting these became unmanageable. People got upset. Moreover, I got too busy in Delhi and lost touch with my people back home. My people are poor and facing hardship. When the security guards don’t allow them to meet me, they got upset with me.

Q: The Congress and Nitish Kumar’s Samata Party seem to have taken away the upper caste and Muslim votes in Bihar. The latter also got the MBCs and Maha Dalits. What are you left with now?

A: No. If the Congress got all the upper caste votes, how come it got only two seats, one Meira Kumar and another a Muslim candidate. If Nitish and Congress got all the votes you are mentioning, how did we got all those votes? The minority voted for the Congress against Mr Advani. Upper castes voted for Mr Advani and Muslims got confused and we could not effectively counter their propaganda.

I took projects worth Rs 50,000 crore to Bihar which is a record. It seems caste and community considerations take precedence over development work.

Q: Nitish Kumar has given reservation to the OBCs in the judiciary and panchayats. Why couldn’t you do that?

A: I started quota for the OBCs in the judiciary long ago. But Justice S.N. Jha and Justice Mukhopadhyaya rejected it. The Supreme Court asked me to frame the rules and go back to the Patna High Court. We did that and again the High Corut rejected it. Nitish has not consulted the courts so I don’t know his fate.

I brought quota for the OBCs and Dalits in panchayats and left only 5 per cent seats in the general category. But the higher courts again struck it down saying you can’t reserve single post of Mukhiya. I did it for the OBCs and Dalits on the basis of their population and its ratio in comparison to the upper castes. But in his case the courts seem to have allowed it.

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