Voters in Patna, cutting across caste and age lines, seem to have a soft corner for Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, although they are disappointed with the fact that his Janata Dal United government was not able to deliver anything substantial in its second term, which saw the parting of ways with its ally of 16 years, the Bharatiya Janata Party.
While Nitish has been credited for controlling crime and improving power transmission in the state capital, there are not many achievements to count during his second term. "I was in Class 12 when Nitish came to power defeating Rabri Devi and Lalu Yadav of the Rashtriya Janata Dal in 2005. I remember the infamous jungle raj of the RJD regime, which was characterised by frequent crimes, no law and order, and no electricity. Nitish improved the law and order and checked crime. He also made sure there was better electricity supply. But when he won again in 2010, the development of Patna slowed down. I feel that a certain complacency and arrogance crept in. I will be voting for the BJP this time," Amit Anand, who owns a computer shop in S.P. Verma Road, said.
Similar sentiments were echoed by Munna Shukla, a grocery shop owner in Kankarbagh.
"Apart from controlling crime and improving power supply, nothing much was done to improve the infrastructure. There is accumulation of rainwater due to lack of proper drainage system. This is an old problem in Kankarbagh. When Nitish came to power in 2005, he promised that the sewage and drainage systems will be improved. However that was not done. I don't know what exactly he did since 2010 when he was elected for a second time. If you ask me to list his three achievements during his second tenure, I will be in a fix," he said.
According to Meena Sinha, a homemaker, it was difficult to speculate who was leading in Bihar. "The general sentiment is that much more could have been done by Nitish Kumar in his second term. He did exceptionally well after he became the CM for the first time. I remember that he used to do unannounced inspection of the drainage system that was being built and would suspend engineers on the spot if they were not doing their work properly. But all this was in his first tenure," she asserted.
However, Sahil Paswan, a 53-year-old driver, said he was going to vote for the JDU-RJD combine. "We feel a sense of security in the tenure of Nitish. Earlier, during the times of my father and grandfather, the police would harass them whenever any crime would take place in our locality because we were seen as easy scapegoats. That changed in the time of Nitish," he said.
Patna goes to the polls in the third phase on 28 October.