Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav on Monday criticised the Bharatiya Janata Party over rising onion prices as the campaigning for first phase of the Bihar Assembly elections ended. Lok Janshakti Party chief Chirag Paswan’s aggressive opposition to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar continued as he alleged corruption in his seven resolves welfare scheme. Meanwhile, the saffron party highlighted national security measures and construction of a Ram temple to garner support.
Yadav, heir apparent of RJD chief Lalu Prasad and the chief ministerial face of the party, tweeted photos of him and another party leader holding up onion garlands. “The common man is suffering because of back-breaking inflation, corruption and unemployment,” he added. “Work and business have come to a standstill. Farmers, labourers, youth and traders are struggling to meet their food needs. The BJP has killed small businessmen. They roam around wearing onion garlands when there’s price rise. Now, we’re giving them this.”
The RJD leader, who has reiterated that his promise of 10 lakh jobs is genuine, raked up unemployment and rising inflation two days before people of Bihar vote in the first phase of the polls. “Those who were speaking about onion when it touched Rs 50-60/kg are now silent when it has crossed Rs 80/kg,” Yadav told reporters in Patna, according to ANI. “Starvation and poverty are rising in the state.”
Yadav also alleged that 60 scams, worth about Rs 30,000 crore, have taken place in Bihar under the leadership of Nitish Kumar-led National Democratic Alliance. “There is no audit of money in times of calamity,” he added. “Corruption has increased considerably, no work can be done without a bribe. Nitish ji has made a tradition that not a single work can be done in Bihar without offering a bribe.”
At a rally in Rohtas district of the state, Yadav asked: “Why give another chance to a chief minister who didn’t provide employment and failed to eradicate poverty. When migrants got stuck, where was his chopper? Then Nitish ji said, stay where you are.”
‘Jail right place for Nitish Kumar’: Chirag Paswan
Paswan, who has put up Lok Janshakti Party candidates against the Janata Dal (United) in 122 seats, again said that if he is voted to power he will get the “saat nishchay” or seven resolves scheme investigated and send to jail those found guilty, including the chief minister, PTI reported.
Nitish Kumar had announced the Rs 2.70 lakh-crore welfare scheme for Bihar’s development during the 2015 Assembly election campaign. The scheme aims at making youth self-reliant through education, skill development and education loan, besides providing electricity connection to all the villages, piped water to every household and construction of road and drainage in urban areas.
“Just because he is chief minister, he won’t go to jail,” he asked. “Corruption is taking place right under his nose. Twelve crore Biharis, including ministers in his cabinet and media persons, know about widespread corruption in implementation of seven resolves.”
The LJP chief said he believed that “jail is the right place” for the Bihar chief minister, NDTV reported. “It is not possible that Nitish Kumar was not involved in scams,” he added.
Paswan also targeted Kumar’s liquor ban, alleging illegal trade is rampant in the state due to patronage of influential people in the Nitish Kumar’s government. “He is promoting smuggling of liquor during prohibition and a fat sum of money from this illegal trade is going in his pocket for furtherance of his political ambition,” he told PTI.
On October 4, citing “ideological differences”, the Lok Janshakti Party had decided not to contest the elections with Kumar-led Janata Dal (United). However, the party decided to stay as an ally of the BJP at the national level and even support the saffron party’s MLAs during the state elections.
Since then, there has been speculation that the Narendra Modi government is secretly supporting Paswan as a counterweight to keep Nitish Kumar in check after the election results.
‘Consider Bihar as one family’: Nitish Kumar
Nitish Kumar, who is fighting for a fourth straight term in Bihar, on Monday said that the NDA has ensured empowerment of women and reduced crime in Bihar, ANI reported. “Crime has reduced in Bihar as state is now at number 23 ranking, according to government data,” Kumar said at a rally in Muzaffarpur. “We’re interested only in work, not in our self-promotion.”
The chief minister claimed that Opposition leaders lack knowledge and experience, adding that they were speaking against him at the behest of their advisors. “We’re not interested in campaign, we’re concerned about nepotism,” he continued. “We consider whole Bihar as one family but for few, only blood relatives are their family.”
In Aurangabad, Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad targeted the Opposition by saying they have a problem with the abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status. “What did our prime minister say,” he asked. “It was the brave jawans of Bihar Regiment who gave a befitting reply to China, in Galwan. The jawans of Bihar were there in Uri too. Bihar is a land of bravehearts.”
BJP National President JP Nadda told people India’s borders are secure under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “In last 6 yrs, 4700 km long four-lane roads have been constructed from Arunachal Pradesh to Galwan so that jawans can reach the borders without delay, whenever needed,” he said.
The NDA comprises four allies – BJP, JD(U), Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) and Vikasheel Insaan Party. The saffron party has been emphasising that Kumar will become the chief minister if the alliance is voted to power, irrespective of individual tallies of the parties.
Earlier this month, Bihar Deputy Chief Minister and the saffron party’s leader Sushil Modi had described Paswan’s party as “vote katuwa”, a term often used in election parlance for parties that do not necessarily win seats but manage to split voters. He had also insisted that his party has no “secret deal” with the Lok Janshakti Party and that the Chirag Paswan-led outfit is not a part of the National Democratic Alliance in the state.
Bihar will vote on October 28, November 3 and 7 for a new government. The results will be announced on November 10.