I think Lalu Prasad Yadav lost the mandate to rule a long time ago. It isn't a question of 15 years. The people of Bihar would have out-voted him a long time ago, but they couldn't simply because elections were rigged. It is only now that the state has managed to have free and fair elections. This is what has enabled Lalu's rule to end. So, this perception of him holding the reigns fairly for 15 years is incorrect.
The biggest issues hindering Bihar's growth at present are financial mismanagement and law and order. These are obviously priorities that the new government will have to take into consideration. There has been a complete deterioration of infrastructure and I would say it is a lot worse now than it was 15 years ago, primarily on account of Lalu's rule. These are the biggest tasks facing the government.
At the same time, I think everything will change the minute there is a semblance of governance. Today, there is nothing in Bihar. The minute law and order and mismanagement are tackled, things will begin to look up. Investment will pour in. I support Nitish Kumar because I think he is the right man for the job. He has a sound mind and the right attitude. I'm sure he will be able to take on these issues successfully and I wish him all the best.
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In my opinion, the biggest and most positive thing about Bihar is its workforce. About 30 to 40 per cent of this workforce has, over the years, migrated to other states, where they now serve other causes. The reason for this lies in Lalu's redevelopment programme that went awry. This is why the workforce moved elsewhere, because they had little incentive to work in their own state. Today, even in the primary education sector, there is a desperate need for over 1 lakh teachers.
Lalu had simply stopped filling posts, assuming that the upper castes would fill them, assuming they would be the ones teaching at schools and other sectors. Even the central government schemes were not implemented because he didn't let them. He had these different ideas about how things would work in the government departments, and they simply didn't. Those posts have been vacant for years. The engineers and the talent have always existed, but these people have simply not been given a chance to work there. For instance, there have been vacancies for junior engineers for years, but none of them have been allowed to fill those posts.
I campaigned with Nitish Kumar because I think he's the right man for the job. I think he has it in him, and he has the support of the people to make that happen.
Film director Prakash Jha, whose soon to be released film Apaharan concerns the state's law and order situation, campaigned for the Janata Dal-United in the Bihar elections. He spoke to Lindsay Pereira