Monday, December 05, 2005

Situation in Bihar is like 'war', says Nitish Kumar

London : The law and order situation in Bihar is akin to "war" with the police and administrative structure in a state of collapse, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has admitted 10 days after taking over power.

But talks with outlawed Maoist groups would not be a priority for his government, the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) leader, who fought so hard to wrest power from Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) of Lalu Prasad, indicated in an interview to BBC's Hindi service.

"The police and administrative structure of the state is in a state of collapse. It is a big challenge to restore it and I appeal to the people of the state to support the government in this war."

Ruling out any compromise on the issue of politics of violence witnessed in Bihar, he said his government would try to solve problems by democratic means.

Describing the Maoist violence in Bihar as a struggle between democracy and violence, Nitish Kumar said his National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government would ensure all round development of the state without any discrimination.

Hinting that talks were not top of the agenda, he said: "With cooperation from people of the state, we would strive to bring normalcy to the state. You have asked whether the naxal problem is socio-economic or is it a law and order problem, I say it has more elements also. There is a conflict here.

"We want to solve problems of our people by democratic means. We believe in democracy, they believe in violence, this is the conflict, but in democracy there can be no place for violence."

Responding to questions from listeners from across the world, the chief minister said though there was freedom to spread ideologies in a democracy, that could not be an excuse to spread violence.

"Socio-economic problems are there and we feel that if fruits of democracy - mainly development - can be ensured, then we can arrive at a solution. It is a fact that justice could not ensured for those who have taken to the violent path, but my firm belief is that democratic means are the best to solve such problems."

Asked what sort of relations he expected from the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the centre, Nitish Kumar said: "We expect full cooperation from the centre. I had spoken to the prime minister before taking oath and I have been assured of all possible assistance.

"If we get cooperation from New Delhi, there would be no baseless allegations from the Bihar government. It is just a beginning, and I do not want to add any political dimension to centre-state relations."

Assuring a transparent and corruption-free government in the state, the new chief minister said his government would come out with an annual report card of work carried out.

Dispelling fears that the new government might cancel appointments made by the previous regime, Nitish Kumar said employment and education were high on the priorities list of the government.

He promised that police recruitments would be done in a transparent manner and more than 10,000 vacancies would be filled soon.

"The education structure has collapsed in the state right from the primary level to higher education. New teachers recruitments on a regular basis and employment oriented education would be given priority," he added.

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