– By Brij Khandelwal
Leadership is all about change and transformation in a society that is rooted firmly in the shackles of the past. After independence, India has seen both types of leaders. But right now two politicians representing two major states of the Indian union, are presenting two dynamic models of leadership, one looking futuristic, the other tied to obsolete but proven sectarian politics.
Indeed, as the leading constituents of the Hindi heartland, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar invariably hog the media attention. Whatever happens in these two states acquires national importance. In terms of numerical strength, both states carry a clout and can influence the course of debates in the country’s parliament as well. UP and Bihar have 80 and 40 Lok Sabha members respectively. Needless to say, these two states are politically the most crucial states that stand out as reliable bellwether for what will happen in national politics. However, their chief ministers are a study in extreme contrasts.
While UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath comes across as a person with a high-octane style of doing things, Nitish Kumar seems to botch things up. Within a short period the UP chief minister has done a remarkable job in providing stability, of restoring peace and tranquility in the state, But the Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar has yet to put an end to the rule of the jungle, which has received a fillip with his friendly relations with discarded casteist and sectarian leaders. His proximity with the Laloo Yadav family has not helped Bihar forge ahead in any sector nor streamline governance.
Yogi Adityanath in public perception is following Prime Minister Narendra Modi and is seen as a worthy successor to Modi’s legacy. He has been working overtime to raise the benchmark in his state to the status of a modern and prosperous state, but the Bihar supremo Nitish Kumar is busy reviving feudalism by carrying out a caste census. Little does Nitish Kumar realize that caste being a highly explosive subject with a marked fissiparous tendency can set Bihar afire.
While Yogi Adityanath goes around promoting the idea of national unity, Nitish Kumar urges people to retreat into their narrow cocoons. Yogi vehemently opposes the policy of appeasement of minorities, but you have the Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar liberally indulging in it. If you compare the Junoon and their passion for societal transformation, Yogi has not only accelerated the pace of socioeconomic development touching all segments and regions of Uttar Pradesh but has also astutely avoided relying on caste to boost economic growth. Undoubtedly, he has famously succeeded in attracting huge investments for his state, whereas Nitish Kumar is like the proverbial red rag to a bull for investors and their money.
Scripting a new narrative, the UP chief minister is seen pursuing public policies exclusively aimed at achieving rapid development of the state. Here again, Nitish Kumar’s disconnected and flawed policies like the liquor ban compound the problems of the state. A study of their respective backgrounds provides some interesting insights. Nitish Kumar has been an ardent follower of JP and Lohiate socialism with modern values. Yogi Adityanath had the halo of a sanyasi, a fundamentalist, and a sworn follower of the so-called reactionary politics.
Eminent political commentator from Bihar, Paras Nath Choudhary says that while Yogi emits the vibes of a prospective prime minister, Nitish Kumar seems to have shriveled into an eternal provincial leader. This is reflected in Yogi’s national popularity. On the other hand, the Bihar chief minister no longer evokes passionate feedback from people in the other states of the republic. Nitish in fact has become the butt of scorn in his own state.”
In a word, while Yogi presides over development, Nitish is seen promoting what could be termed as “de-development.”