A blend of different strokes

The year 2011 was an eventful one for Bihar where  BJP patriarch L K Advani kicked off his Jan Chetna Yatra from the birthplace of Jaya Prakash Narayan.

The year will also go into the annals of history as Bihar became the first State to confiscate the house of a corrupt IAS officer and open a school for underprivileged children. To top it all, a genuine rags-to-riches story occurred when computer operator Sushil Kumar, earning barely Rs 6,000 per month, became the first Indian to win Rs 5 crore in the popular game show “Kaun Banega Crorepati”.

The year started on a gloomy note when Chief Minister Nitish Kumar lost his mother on New Year’s day. As pall of gloom descended on 1, Aney Marg, the official residence of Nitish, the news of the death of former Lok Sabha Speaker Baliram Bhagat also came.

Bhagat was the first Lok Sabha member from Bihar who pres­ided over the Lower House.

While people were discussing how 2011 had made a dismal beginning, another shock came when the ruling BJP MLA from Purnia, Raj Kishore Kesri, was stabbed to death by his “paramour” Rupam Pathak.

Rupam, a school principal, had alleged that she was being sexually exploited by the legislator for a long time, and, had taken the extreme step.

Notwithstanding the downcast scenario, Nitish upped the ante and vowed to root out corruption from Bihar. He asked all his ministers, legislators and government employees (right from Class I to Class III)  to declare their assets on the Bihar Government website.

This was followed annually by all, including the chief minister, ministers, MLAs, MLCs and government servants.

In the run-up to the Bihar Assembly elections, Nitish had made a promise to the people that if re-elected, he would set up government schools after confiscating buildings of corrupt officers in the State.

In less than a year, the promise was fulfilled when perhaps for the first time in the country, a palatial house of a senior IAS officer S S Verma was confiscated and a school was opened. But there was some good news too. A 1976-batch Bihar ca­dre IAS officer U K Sinha who had studied in a Government primary and secondary school, went on to become chairman of Securities and Exchange Board of India .

Although bad press was received when it came to light in March that Pune-based hawala racketeer Hasan Ali Khan ma­n­aged to get a passport from Pat­na in just seven days.
Opposition parties charged the Nitish regime with illegal allotment of vast tracts of land by the Bihar Industrial Area Development Authority to the kin of the ministers and bureaucrats.

Later, a clean chit was given to the beneficiaries, ­ lost some of the sheen about his assiduously-cultivated image of a no-nonsense Chief Mi­n­ister.

Notwithstanding the ‘blot’, one person - L K Advani - stood by him like a rock. But lo and behold – as the luxurious rath, an Isuzu bus (equipped with a sky lift and communication facilities, including TV, computer and public address system), was flagged off at Chapra, - Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley - fell ill, prompting many in the saffron camp to term it as an inauspicious start. However, Bihar had its glamour quotient when superstar Amitabh Bachchan flew down to Patna for the first time to promote Prakash Jha’s Aarakshan. Half of the Patna roads remained jammed on the day as a frenzied crowd hit the streets.

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