Ups and downs of power politics in Bihar - I

Prabhat Kishore
Contd from previous issue
Mandal formed the Government with the support of the Congress.
The Congress was not convenient  in  supporting a backward  Chief  Minister. To topple Mandal Government,  a break up in Congress took place and “Loktantrik Congress” under the leadership of Bhola Paswan Shastri, a Dusadh, was formed. Mandal remained in power for just 47 days (1st Jan 1968 to 22nd March 1968). Government of Samyukt Morcha under the leadership of Shastri took charge, but this Scheduled Caste CM also had to resign only after 95 days (22nd March 1968 to 29th June 1968) and for the first time in the history of Bihar, President Rule came into force on 29th June 1968.  
In the mid-term election of 1969, the Congress got only 118 seats and remained far from the magic  figure of 160. On 26th Feb. 1969, the Government was formed under the leadership of Sardar Harihar Singh, a Rajput (26th Feb 1969 to 22nd June 1969) of United Forum, but he was also unable to provide a stable Government. Due to large-scale defection of Ministers & legislators, the Harihar Singh Government was defeated in the Vidhan Sabha after securing only 143 votes against 164.
Bhola Paswan Shastri took charge for the second time through double-cross of legislators from different parties. The Jansangh wanted to keep the Congress out of the Govern- ment. Congress also did not want  the leaders of Jan Sangh, PSP & SSP to be inducted in the Government. The Congress brought a no-confidence motion in the Vidhan Sabha which was passed with the support of Jan Sangh, and within 9 days Shastri  Govt. (22nd June 1969 to 4th July 1969)  collapsed. On 6th July 1969 President Rule was imposed, which was revoked on 16th Feb. 1970, when Daroga Prasad Roy, a Yadav, of the Congress was sworn in as CM. But again the upper caste lobby of the Congress could not accept Mr. Roy for a long time.
In the Opposition, there was internal fight in the SSP between the upper and backward caste lobbies for leadership in which Kar-poori Thakur, a Nai, succeeded. Daroga Roy Govt. (16th Feb. 1970 to 22nd Dec. 1970) fell and Karpoori Thakur became CM on 22nd Dec. 1970 with the support of the Jan Sangh.
He too became a victim of defections and had to resign on 2nd June 1971. A forum of like minded legislators named “Pragatishil Vidhayak Dal” was formed and its leader Bhola Paswan Shastri took over as  CM for the third time. He again fell to keep the legislators united and resigned on 27th December 1972; followed by President Rule on 9th Jan. 1972.
In a span of just 5 years since 1967 to 1972, the people of Bihar faced 9 Chief Ministers. In a bid to eradicate the unstable political scenario, Congress was voted to power in 1972 election with 167 seats. The Congress continued its traditional game and in place of Ram Lakhan Yadav, the leader of the legislature party in the dissolved Assembly, Kedar Pandey, a Brahmin, was made the CM (19.3.1972 to 02.07.1973). Pandey Government stepped down within one year and for the first time in the history of Bihar a Muslim leader Abdul Gafoor  (02.07.1973 to 11.04.1975) was made the CM to counter the heavyweight Mishra brothers. Gafoor had to resign following the JP movement. Taking emotional sympathy of the assassination of the then Railway Minister Lalit Narayan Mishra in a bomb explosion in Samastipur in 1974, his younger brother Dr Jagannath Mishra, a Brahmin, became the CM (11.04.1975 to 30.04.1977) and during his tenure emergency was imposed on 25th June 1975. On 30 April 1977, Vidhan Sabha was dissolved and Bihar came under President’s Rule.
In general election of June 1977, the Janata Party came to power with a landslide victory in the State. Despite strong opposition from State Janata Party president Satyendra Narayan Sinha, Karpoori Thakur was elected the leader of the legislature party and took oath as  the CM (24.06.1977 to 21.04.1979). Thakur  gained name & fame, when he implemented long-awaited Backward Class reservation in State Government services as well as institutions and distributed appointment letters to all unemployed engineers in the State.
Under the patronage of Satyendra Narayan Sinha and even the blessings of  JP, there were aggressive protests against the reservation. Ultimately, Karpoori Thakur had to resign and Ram Sundar Das, a Chamar, took charge as CM (21.04.1979  to17.02.1980). The  key of power was with SN Sinha and  Dasji had no control over the administration. President’s Rule was imposed on 17th February 1980, and the Vidhan Sabha was dissolved.

(Author is a technocrat & academician.)