Winds of change blowing over poll-bound Magadh
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Last Updated: Tuesday, November 02, 2010, 11:07
Gaya: Ramesh Dhudy used to drive an old Maruti 800 car. An affluent paper merchant, he could afford a bigger car but the fear of criminals forced him to suppress his desire for a full 15 years. But that is now history. Dhudy is now a proud owner of a swanky Honda car.

This is not only a change of vehicle but that of a mindset that is pervading in Magadh region of Bihar, where earlier caste violence marred life in rural areas and criminal activities in the cities.

The changes are all the more striking in Gaya, the divisional headquarters of the region spread across three more districts including Jehanbad, Nawada and Aurangabad.

15 of the 35 constituencies going to polls in the fifth phase on November 9 fall in Magadh division while 11 seats from the region go to polls on November 20 when the sixth phase of polls is held in 26 assembly segments.

Out of these, 10 seats fall in Gaya districts, where Lalu Prasad's RJD despite a strong anti-Lalu wave managed to bag four seats. JD-U had won three, Congress, BJP and LJP one each.

All the four districts in Magadh division had witnessed bloodbath with private armies of upper castes and Naxal organisations engaging in a fierce battle of supremacy. However, the situation has changed a lot now.

"Crime and extortion were at its peak and I could not dare to buy a new car. It has changed now. I can drive safely in the city in any car and wear any amount of gold if I have money. Earlier only politicians or crime lords drove big cars. Now I can also do it. It is a big change.

"The ripple effects are there to see. Everybody is now willing to take out their hard cash from banks and buy things or invest in market. That will make the difference as money is moving and making lives move instead of rotting in a corner," Dhudy said.

Smoke billowing from the industrial area on Dobhi-Naili road affirm his hopes. The area once a graveyard of industries is limping back to business.

A total of 129 vehicles including 100 for personal use were sold off in Gaya town during a three-day car mela organized by State Bank of India last week. The bank did a business of Rs 8 crore in three days.

"Money is finally coming out of the closet," remarked a car seller in the city.

People still remember how Chandra Brothers’ showroom of Maruti-Suzuki cars at Gaya-Bodhgaya road was closed down following threats by criminals.

It was a period when businessmen started migrating out of Bihar as apart from extortion abductions also became a routine affair.

Patna based Karlo Motors has now opened a showroom and is doing brisk business at the same place where Chandra Brothers had to close shop.

Tata Motors' Pareena showroom on the same road is also flourishing and the company plans local manufacturing of bodies of some of its vehicles here. Hyundai has already opened a shop and the buzz is that Mahindra and Ford are also coming up.

Former Chairman of District Chambers and Commerce Anup Kedia explains the development as the outcome of increase in purchasing capacity and the newly-acquired confidence.

"Earlier even those, who had the financial capacity hesitated to come fore. There has been rise in economic activities resulting in the increase of purchasing capacity and with law and order improving people are willing to spend publicly. In a period of optimism, people are keen to spend and invest even beyond their capacity and sensing growth banks are not hesitant to provide loans," Kedia says.

Vastu Vihar group has started a huge resort Sambodhi in Bakrour village of Bodhgaya, while Gaya city has got is first diamond showroom Radha Rani.

Taxila International School has opened a branch near Mastpura in Bodhgaya.

Multi-storeyed banquet halls have come up in various localities and recently hosted a star-studded dandia night.

"Recently, two Bhojpuri films were shot in the city. That's a new beginning," says Rahul Singh, who has featured in over 100 albums.

Kaushalenda Pratap Singh, who once headed the District Chamber of Commerce says "though big industries have not come as they require developed infrastructure like roads and electricity, there has been an upsurge in small businesses.

Apart from the automobile boom, branded apparel showrooms have opened in the city.

Top private banks have opened their branches and there is a new-found enthusiasm to invest in education, health and real state sectors.

However, employmnet is still a problem in the region.

Youths are found playing cards and whiling away their time outside Budhgere village of Wajirganj assembly segment in the day.

Asked for the reason, one of them says, "What to do. There is no job".

Hundreds of youths from the Mushar community at Gehlore Valley go to Surat and Mumbai to work on brick kilns.

"You won't find youths from October to June here," says Bhagirath Manjhi at Dashrath Nagar in Atari assembly segment.


First Published: Tuesday, November 02, 2010, 11:07

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