After the JD(U)-BJP separation in June and the exit of 11 BJP ministers from the Nitish Kumar ministry, the number of ministerial vacancies in Patna rose to 18. All 18 departments are being looked after by the chief minister. “When so many departments are with the CM, monitoring and review slow down, governance is a casualty”, says Sushil Kumar Modi, deputy chief minister in the erstwhile alliance government in Bihar.
Talk to bureaucrats in Patna, however, and they claim the government is more agile. “The truth is, even when they were ostensibly in charge, they (the BJP ministers) wouldn’t know what was happening in their own departments. Projects were planned, initiated and monitored directly by the CM”, says a senior JD(U) minister. The suggestion is explicit: The Bihar government is a one-man show. Ministers, not just of the BJP but also of the JD(U), are firmly in the chief minister’s shadow.
The other side of the “one-man show” in Patna is that often, and particularly ever since Nitish Kumar walked out of the NDA, it seems that the Nitish message misses a political machine.
“People don’t understand why an alliance that was working so well broke up, especially because there is a surge for Modi. Unlike Lalu, who has a blunt way, Nitish’s style is suggestive. He signals, doesn’t take names. He hasn’t been able to convey his message to ground level. People are confused and angry. They hold Nitish responsible”, says Sushil Kumar Modi.