New Delhi: Reaffirming the NDA’s campaign theme — 15 years versus 15 years — for the upcoming Bihar elections, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar Monday lashed out at RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav and also reminded people about his ‘Jungle Raj’ days.
Speaking at a virtual rally called the ‘Nischay Samvaad’, which marked the beginning of the NDA’s election campaign, from the JD(U) office in Patna, Kumar hit out at his arch nemesis without taking his name.
“I have heard that a person (read Lalu) has dubbed me a bojh (burden) in Bihar. He is right. People, who do work, have a burden on them. But those who are inside (jail), do not have a burden on them,” he said, during his almost 3-hour speech, which JD(U) leaders claimed saw the attendance of over 26 lakh people.
Kumar attacked Lalu by comparing growth statistics of their regimes in the fields of education, health, employment, infrastructure, and law and order.
The CM also brought up the ugly spat between Lalu’s son Tej Pratap Yadav and his wife Aishwarya Rai.
“What happened in the case of Aishwarya Rai? Why was a daughter-in-law thrown out of the house?” he asked.
Rai, Tej Pratap’s estranged wife, had last year alleged that she was slapped, pulled by hair and thrown out by her mother-in-law and Lalu’s wife Rabri Devi. Following the incident, an FIR was filed against Rabri Devi.
Rai’s father, Chandrika Rai, who is a 7-term MLA, defected to the JD(U) from RJD last month.
Paid tributes to Sushant Singh Rajput
Kumar also mentioned about the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput, saying he had recommended a CBI probe on the request of Rajput’s family. He also paid tributes to the late actor.
This comes after the BJP launched a campaign in the state seeking “justice for actor Sushant Singh Rajput”, and has been planning to paste posters across the state declaring, “Na bhoole hain, na bhulne denge (we have neither forgotten, nor will we let anyone forget)”, along with a photograph of the late actor.
On the RJD’s charges of increasing unemployment in the state, the chief minister gave out figures to counter them.
“From 1990 to 2005 (when Lalu ruled Bihar) when Jharkhand was a part of Bihar, the total number of people employed was a little over 97,000. During my regime, the number of people, who have been employed, was over 6 lakh,” he said.
Lalu’s younger son and Leader of the Opposition in the assembly Tejashwi Yadav has been targeting JD(U) for the last one week over the issue of unemployment, which currently stands at 46.6 per cent. He also promised to start a massive employment drive if he and his alliance come to power.
The then and now picture
In his speech, Kumar criticised Lalu, saying that during his government, it was difficult to find if there were ditches on the roads or roads through the ditches.
“Where were the roads then? Now you can travel to Patna from any corner of Bihar within 6 hours,” he added.
On the health sector, the CM said that before 2005, the average number of patients coming to primary health centres was 80 per month. “Now the numbers are over 10,000,” he claimed.
On the education front, he said that when he came to power, over 12 per cent children were out of school.
“Today it’s zero as I ensured everyone goes to school. When I came to power, the number of girls appearing in Class X exams was just 1.7 lakh. In the last metric exams, the number of girls outnumbered the boys,” he said.
Kumar further said that when he came to power only 18 per cent of the population received immunisation. “Today it is 80 per cent and mortality rates (due to various diseases) have dropped,” he added.
On the law and order situation, the CM asked the youths to see the photographs of streets taken before 2005, when roads remained deserted after sunset, and compare them with pictures taken now.
“Ask people if they dared to come out of their homes during the night (before 2005),” he said.
He also stressed the fact that he had opened several educational institutions like medical and engineering colleges, which his predecessor failed to do.
Talking about providing flood victims with relief materials during his regime, Kumar asked if people even expected it during the husband-wife’s regime.
Kumar said Bihar has benefitted from central government schemes.
“Over 80 lakh people have got free gas connections, and the Centre and the states together have achieved 100 per cent coverage in power connection and toilets for all,” he said.
He also mentioned about the roads and bridges constructed by the Centre in the state.
‘Power in wrong hands can undo everything’
Kumar did not say much about what he intends to do if he is again voted back to power, except for promising that he would ensure irrigation facilities for all agricultural fields.
The CM appealed to his party workers to remind people about Bihar’s condition before the JD(U) came to power.
“When you go to people, you talk about our achievements and also remind them what it was like before when we came to power. I will always work for the people. But power in the wrong hands can undo everything we have worked for,” he added.
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