Speaking at a rally at Samastipur yesterday, Nitish Kumar hit back at Narendra Modi for trying to bring ‘beef politics’ into Bihar by reeling out statistics to show meat exports had actually gone up under Narendra Modi’s rule, in both Gujarat and at the centre.
He told the people that under Narendra Modi as Chief Minister, Gujarat had exported 10,600 tonnes of meat in 2003; however, the same increased to 34,990 tonnes in 2013. He further said that after taking over as PM, in the last one year, India’s beef exports had actually gone up by 15.4%.
He also took on Narendra Modi for portraying Jitan Manjhi as a Dalit who had been denied his due. He asked people if Modi was so sympathetic to the Dalit cause why he doesn’t announce Manjhi’s name as the next CM. Nitish Kumar went on to say that Jitan Manjhi was an unknown name in Bihar until he promoted him as a CM but he betrayed the party and went over to the BJP camp.
Nitish Kumar also responded to the PM’s remark in his speeches on how there was no electricity in Bihar and asked the people of Samastipur whether they had electricity or not. He said the PM had no idea of the ground reality in Bihar as he was an outsider. He said that Bihar would vote for a Bihari and that he was a Bihari who would represent them.
He also reminded people of how Narendra Modi had promised to bring back black money and put Rs 15-20 lakh into people’s account but had since backtracked on his promise.
PM pushes for ‘Vikas Raj’ versus ‘Jungle Raj’ at Sasaram and Aurangabad
Speaking at rallies in Sasaram and Aurangabad yesterday, PM Modi was at his oratorical best by taking on Lalu and making a pitch for his ‘Vikas Raj’ versus Lalu-Nitish’s ‘Jungle Raj’.
At Sasaram, he started off by calling people the Supreme Court as they will finally decide on Bihar’s future. He straight away took on Lalu Prasad by calling on the people of Bihar to ask Lalu why he was not contesting the elections. He said people of Bihar had made up their mind to punish those who had neglected the state for the last 60 years.
He spoke of how under Lalu Prasad’s ‘Jungle Raj’ kidnapping, forceful occupations of people’s homes and killing of innocent people had become an industry and how women and children felt afraid to venture out after dark. He said it was time for the people of Bihar to reject ‘Jungle Raj’ and vote for ‘Vikas Raj’ to usher in a new era.
Speaking about backwardness in Bihar, he asked why there was still no electricity in several villages. He spoke about how agriculture in the state had been neglected and that Bihar had to import Rs 400 crore worth of fish from outside when this could be cultivated in Bihar. He spoke of how his special package of Rs 1.65 lakh crore would transform Bihar and help create jobs for Biharis. For this to happen, he asked the people to vote in the NDA with 2/3rd majority.
‘Mahagathbandhan’ and ‘NCP’ release their manifesto
The Mahagathbandhan released its manifesto on Friday which mirrored Nitish Kumar’s 7-point development agenda announced earlier. The manifesto reiterated thrust on education, with the interest subsidy on educational loans to students up to Rs 4 lakh; a self-help allowance of Rs 1,000 for nine months to youth between 20-24 years, which can be availed for two years at any time as per need.
The manifesto reaffirmed that Wi-Fi would be made available in all colleges and universities. The state will have five new medical colleges and nursing homes and every district will have an engineering college, a polytechnic and a para-medical institution to ensure that good quality education and medical services are made available at the district level. To promote entrepreneurship in the state, a special fund of Rs 500 crore will be established. The manifesto focuses on women development and welfare. 35% reservation for women in government jobs along with piped water and electricity connection to every household has been promised.
All welfare measures and schemes together are expected to cost the state Rs 2.7 lakh crore.
NCP leader Tariq Anwar released the party manifesto titled ‘Bihar Vision 2020’ on Friday, which focuses on youth and women, on similar lines as those of Mahagathbandhan and NDA manifestos.
The party promises Rs 5,000 per month to all unemployed youth. On education, the party promises to offer interest free loans to students and to set up engineering college, medical college, polytechnic and B.Ed college in each block by 2020.
For developing the state, the party has promised to set up an electricity grid in each district and a sub-station at every block. To promote agriculture, cold storage facilities will be set up across the state and farmers will be given subsidized loans, fertilizers and seeds along with better irrigation facilities.
Where is Sharad Yadav?
If there is one person who has been totally missing from these polls, it is Sharad Yadav, the JD(U) President. For someone who has been playing the role of a king maker and influencer in Bihar politics for a long time, it is surprising that he has been totally out of the campaigning picture in these polls. Is it a deliberate strategy to stay behind the scenes or has he been rendered to the background. These elections have been focused around three principal protagonists; Narendra Modi, Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad. In all elections, Sharad Yadav has been centre stage in building political equations and reaching out to the media, therefore, it is surprising that he has let Nitish-Lalu duo be the face of the Grand Alliance.
The last time Sharad Yadav was in the media was when he tried to mediate with Mulayam Singh to remain in the alliance. Having failed in doing so, Sharad Yadav has kept rather quiet, so much so that one hasn’t seen him aggressively campaigning or sharing stage with party members or alliance partners in rallies. If Mahagathbandhan wins, what role will Sharad Yadav play? Would he again play kingmaker but remain in the background or will he come forward to stake his claim in power sharing? That’s the big question.