Ruled or Misruled : The Story and Destiny of Bihar by Santosh Singh [Book Review]

rm.jpgTitle : Ruled or Misruled : The Story and Destiny of Bihar

Author : Santosh Singh

ISBN : 9789385436307

Publisher : Bloomsbury India

Genre : Indian History & Politics

Pages : 339

Source : Self

Rating : 4 stars

I had started this book quite a few months ago but due to some reason had discontinued it. This time I decided to pick it up and finish it in one go.

As pretty much clear from the title, the book describes the entire political journey of Bihar- The predominant Congress rule till its fall 1990, the JP movement, socialist rule under Karpoori Thakur, the rise of Lalu and the 15 years of Lau-Rabdi Jungle raaj that reduced the state’s reputation to ashes due to the bureaucratic and law-and-order carnage, the rise of Nitish, vernacularisation of Politics by both Lalu and Nitish and the recent rise of BJP in Bihar (the book was written before the 2015 Assembly Polls in Bihar).

One thing that I really liked in this book is that instead of describing all the events chronically, the author has decided to arrange chapters according to a topic/event/political figure which has proved to be a turning point in the history of Bihar. This makes sure that if Lalu-Rabdi misrule and  Nitish’s efforts to revive the economic and social fabric of the state have been elaborated in detail, figures like Paswan, Jiten Ram Manjhi and events like BJP-JDU split and reconciliation of JDU-RJD have also been given proper coverage and attention.

Bihar’s history cannot be narrated without the mention of Lalu and as expected, 6 chapters have been exclusively dedicated to him. His hilarious antics, MY (Muslim Yadav) politics, his peculiar ways of connecting with the masses while breaking all protocols, his rustic banter, stopping of Advani’s chariot, nepotism, scams and scandals have been put down with proper details with numerous references. Some spine chilling account of murders and kidnappings during the “jungle raaj” also find a space in the book, inevitably. Moving ahead, the author scans the political history of Nitish, who though started his journey with Lalu and his party, is poles apart from the RJD chief and had brought the agenda of “Development” for the first time in a state where everything has a caste angle and casteism is deeply entrenched in the political fabric. The various “Social Engineering” approaches used by Nitish have also been mentioned very profoundly and the author also doesn’t miss to point out various loopholes and failures in  execution of numerous projects started by Nitish, making the book a real unbiased account.

The author, Santosh Singh, is an Assistant Editor at Indian Express and himself has been a witness of many events in the book. He deserves all the accolades for the meticulous research he has done to put together multiple references and gather anecdotes from the popular as well as thew tainted political figures of Bihar. Though I must mention that the book needs better editing and perhaps a tighter narrative.

Buy a copy for yourself from Amazon here.

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