Narendra Modi launched his Bihar campaign with a call for development of Bihar at a mega rally in Banka. In his signature style he spoke about the need to reverse 68 years of backwardness that Bihar had suffered and that the time had come for Bihar to reclaim its path to development. He spoke of how his special package to Bihar of 1.65 lakh crore was going to transform Bihar and bring it back to a frontline state.
Taking potshots at the Nitish Kumar–led government, he referred to the latest World Bank ranking report of states in India. He compared Bihar’s current ranking of 27 in a list of ‘most conducive for industrialization’ parameter with neighbouring Jharkhand, which was earlier ranked 29th but had dramatically improved its position to 3.
On the health parameter, he took the example of the dreaded kala-azar disease and mentioned how Jharkhand had successfully fought against it and reduced the number of deaths to just 21 as compared to 300 in Bihar.
In a another dig at Nitish Kumar he said that his government at the centre was willing to extend all help to Bihar provided the local government here did not return the funds, in an oblique reference to Nitish Kumar rejecting the Rs 5 crore cheque in 2008 that was sent as a relief measure for the Kosi river flood victims by the Gujarat Government under his Chief Ministership.
With Banka being part of the Maoist affected areas, Modi called out to the Maoists to shun all forms of violence and take the path of the ballot and join the mainstream.
Speaking on development, in his signature style, he asked the people if the present government was giving them 24 hour power supply and when they answered ‘no’, he respond with an assurance that if the NDA got voted to power, his government would ensure 24 hour power supply to all homes. He went onto to list out various initiatives that NDA had planned for Bihar.
Nitish and Lalu react to Modi’s speech in Banka
Taking strong exception to Narendra Modi’s reference to deaths due to kala azar in Jharkhand and Bihar, Nitish Kumar took to twitter to lambast Modi by saying he should have first consulted his ‘doctor’ colleague C.P. Thakur, who happens to be an expert on kala-azar, before comparing the two states. He also asked why the PM was silent on Mohan Bhagwat’s statement on reservation.
Not to be left out, Lalu too turned to twitter with ‘Yuva rutha, Modi jhootha’ with a reference to Modi promising jobs to 2 crore youth and then backing out. He went onto say that ‘bhashan’ won’t fill people’s stomachs. And in typical Lalu style he went on to quote a song” Kya hua tera wada, who kasam who irada’.
But JD(U) will do well to go beyond responding to BJP’s statements and focus on what they really have to offer to the people of Bihar and how it is going to be a better proposition than the NDA plan. This is the only thing that can make a difference at this stage since caste politics can only do that much and no more.
Maoists call for poll boycott
Before each election, especially in Maoist controlled areas in various affected states, Maoists give a call for people to boycott polls. This election too they have called for people to boycott the polls saying the Nitish Kumar government can’t bring social justice to people and armed struggle against the establishment must continue.
As in other elections, this is likely to have little effect on voter turnout since people in Maoists affected states have been coming out to vote in greater numbers each year, signaling a clear waning of influence these militants have had over rural people.
For these elections, central government is deploying 50,000 armed paramilitary forces in Bihar and every polling station and nearby areas will be closely guarded. Maoist affected districts like Gaya, Jehanabad, Aurangabad and Jamui will have additional forces to ensure that no untoward incident takes place. CRPF has already launched preventive measures along with the state police and have been consistently carrying out raids which have yielded cash, arms and propaganda leaflets. The pressure on Maoists will continue.
Politician in focus: Raj Kumar Singh, BJP (Born 20 December 1952)
RK Singh is the sitting MP from Arrah in the 16th Lok Sabha. He was born in Supaul, Bihar in the house of Haldhar Pratap Singh and Chandrakala Devi. RK Singh graduated in English Literature from the prestigious St. Stephens College in Delhi and then pursued Law from Magadh University. He also completed his Diploma in Management from RVB Delft – Netherlands.
RK Singh started his career in IPS in 1974 and later shifted to IAS in 1975. His long career in civil services included positions of District Magistrate – East Champaran (1981-83), DM Patna (1983-85), Director and Joint Secretary MOD (1991-96), Home Secretary Bihar (1997-99), Jt. Secretary Ministry of Home (2000-2005), Principal Secretary – Road Construction, Bihar (2006-09), Secretary Defence Production (2009-11), Home Secretary GOI (2011-13).
Constituency in focus: Bihariganj
Bihariganj is a Vidhan Sabha Constituency in Madhepura district and is located around 41 kms south of Madhepura. The villages that form part of the constituency include Madhukarchak, Mohanpur, Madhuvan, Mahikhand, Gangaura, Laxmipur, Belahi, Babanghama, Vishnapur, Tintenga and Gamail, amongst others. Maithili is the main language along with Hindi and Urdu.
Bihariganj is mostly agrarian with main crops being paddy, wheat, corn, sugarcane, mango and mustard. The town is also known for its handloom and jute products.
2010 Assembly Election Results
• Winner in 2010 Assembly Poll: Renu Kumari, JD(U)
• Margin of win: 49,997 ; 32.76% % of total valid votes
• Runner-up: Prabhash Kumar, RJD
• Male voters: 74,032 ; Female voters: 78,584 ; Total: 152,620
• Polling %: 60.69
• Male Candidates who contested: 12 ; Female Candidates: 2
• Polling stations: 249
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