Patna's dirty roads belie Nitish Kumar's claims of good governance, posters about which have flooded Bihar's capital city ahead of the Assembly elections. Even though Chief Minister Kumar's ruling Janata Dal United is trying to sell its 10 years of "development work", the hallmarks of Lalu Yadav's "jungle raaj" — heaps of garbage, long traffic jams and narrow, congested roads — continue to torment the residents.
The lack of a proper civic administration is evident when one enters the Patna railway station. There is complete traffic mismanagement which makes it difficult for people to exit the station, and walk towards the Mahavir temple to get an auto rickshaw. The entire place stinks of stagnated water and garbage.
"This was the same Patna which I first saw when I came here in 2006. Nothing seems to have improved. There is so much of garbage, puddle of water and the same crowd of beggars. This is certainly not a good sight for those who visit the state capital for the first time. If this is the good governance Nitish is trying to sell, then I don't think he will find enough buyers," Rohit Kumar, an MBA from IIM who is working with a leading MNC as the state head, said.
The lack of a proper civic administration is evident when one enters the Patna railway station. There is a complete traffic mismanagement and the entire place stinks of stagnant water and garbage.
According to another local, Amarendra Kumar, who is an advocate in Patna High Court, the civic administration in the capital has deteriorated in the last two to three years. "In the last two-three years, ever since the Bharatiya Janata Party and the JDU parted ways, the focus of the government has been on politics, rather than improving the administration in the city. In monsoon, the stench of rainwater becomes unbearable. Nothing much has been done to streamline the traffic movement in the city. Patna is more of an urban village" he said.
It took this correspondent around 50 minutes to cover a distance of 10 kilometres while moving from one point of Patna to the other because of the narrow roads and the huge traffic jams that took place due to the lack of effective traffic management.
Residents of the state capital however give credit to the Nitish government for improving the power supply situation and controlling crime. "Nitish will get full marks when it comes to electricity and law and order. Power cuts are less and organised crime has mostly been contained. We give him full credit for that. But nothing much has been done to improve the standard of the city. Go to Bhopal, Raipur or Gandhinagar or even Bhubaneswar, these cities are so clean and organised unlike the situation here," Avinash Singh, a Patna based builder, said.