In the 1980s, an economist coined the term BiMaRU, for the backwardness of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. (Bimar also means sick in Hindi) These were four large states which could be powerhouses if they chose to be.
The term is no longer used, but there are many states in India that could well be called politically Bimaru states.
While Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan are making decent progress in governance, the same can’t be said of Bihar anymore.
After decades of ruin, the people of Bihar rejected the Congress and went in for Laloo Prasad Yadav who proved to be even more destructive. When Nitish Kumar took over in 2005, the State seemed set for a turnaround.
However in the second term, Nitish lost sight of Bihar and his national ambitions have destroyed both him and the State. When he broke ties with the BJP, not only did he lose a majority in the Bihar Assembly, but he lost his experienced BJP ministers too.
Instead of trying to mend the damage, Nitish quit and handed over power to Jitan Ram Manjhi who keeps putting his foot in his mouth every second day. Bihar seems to be running on autopilot and all development and governance has taken a backseat.
Officials have accused Bihar of being lax on security. Terrorists have been nabbed near the Nepal border, there were the Bodh Gaya blasts and investigating officers talked of a Ranchi module of the Indian Mujahideen.
Uttar Pradesh is another State which seems to have lost hope. After years of Congress rule, BJP was given a chance but they were rejected too.
Mayawati got a full term but the electorate dumped her all the same and she drew a total blank in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections.
Akhilesh Yadav came on great hope, but he has proved worse than all the other CMs before him. Lawlessness and communal riots are on the increase. There is no sign of governance or development.
The State has become a mere caricature of its past with stalwart Mulayam Singh Yadav making bizarre statements like laptops leading to electoral defeats (because people watched videos of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on them) or Gujaratis being liars.
(That Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Vallabhai Patel are the two tallest Gujaratis of India seems to have been totally lost to him.)
Another State which has been hurtling from disaster to disaster is West Bengal. The Congress lost it in a bid to destroy Naxalism in the 1970s. After that the 34-year CPM rule is now more for its misses than hits.
Mamata Banerjee came on a lot of hope, but it’s come to naught in the end. Intolerant of any criticism, the State seems to have been swamped run by scam and terror stories.
While the Saradha scam is blowing out of proportion, the Enforcement Directorate is looking into multiple chit fund scams and Saradha may not even be the biggest. So many terror houses also being discovered in West Bengal is also a real cause of concern.
Links with Al-Qaeda, a plot to assassinate the Bangladeshi premier: News reports coming out of the State do not look at all pleasing.
Mulayam, Maya, Nitish and Mamata all fancied themselves as future Prime Ministers at some point in the past and as a result they have lost hold of their respective States.
Jammu & Kashmir is another State that has been going from bad to worse. Here the people have tried all the options: National Conference, Congress and PDP. Real development has always taken a backseat in Kashmir.
Since 1990, it has been plagued with militancy and that has led to regular life being disrupted and also the implementation of AFSPA. The Kashmir Valley is one of the most beautiful places in the world and yet nobody has been able to capitalize on that fact.
In the 1980s, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh were known as the economically Bimaru States.
Today, Jammu & Kashmir, Bihar, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh could be called the politically Bimaru States.
They go to the polls in 2014/15, 2015, 2016 and 2017 respectively. A hung Assembly in any of them would plunge the State further into decline.More from the author:
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The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. He blogs here.