In 2015, the Bihar election campaign was dominated by former CM Lalu Prasad's controversial statements like "Hindus also eat beef" and PM Modi hitting back saying it was an insult to Yaduvanshis.
However, this time around the baton has passed to the younger Paswan and Yadav in the LJP and the RJD respectively. LJP ‘s ‘Bihar first, Bihari first’ slogan and RJD’s promise of 10 lakh jobs in the first cabinet meeting itself has brought unemployment as the core focus of BJP’s campaign too. With less than 24 hours to go for the first phase of the election, BJP leaders are talking ‘rozgar’ and ‘vikas’.
There are a whopping 1.79 crore voters who are under the age of 30. Many of them are without a job and are restless for employment. A large chunk of them are not aware of the tales of abduction and lawlessness of the Lalu era or they have bigger worries to focus upon such earning a respectable livelihood.
Even the initial stress on ‘jungle raj’ has been overwhelmed with BJP’s emphasis on its future plans for Bihar. Though PM Modi mentioned about the lawlessness of the Lalu era, Nadda and other leaders have been focused on answering a simple query: how they plan to create 19 lakh jobs, something they have promised in their election manifesto.
No wonder then that the BJP is referring to unexplored areas such as Madhubani paintings that have not been marketed well or the PM holding virtual addresses for street vendors who have been beneficiaries of central loan schemes in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar’s neighbouring state, signalling job creation can be done both by government and self.
When BJP presidnet J.P. Nadda came to Bihar a few days ago, addressing a huge crowd in Nalanda, he acknowledged that job creation is the government’s responsibility. Almost every BJP leader involved in Bihar election says the change of focus on jobs was necessitated with an eye on young voters, many of them first-time voters, who may not know or be concerned about a ‘Bihar of the past’ and for whom employment is a far more pressing issue.
“There will be self-sufficient Bihar through self-sufficient India. It is the responsibility of the government to create employment opportunities in Bihar and NDA’s Nitish government will do the work to provide employment to 19 lakh people,” promised Nadda in his Nalanda rally while focussing on the ‘future of Bihar’ rather than attacking the ‘jungle raj’ era.
In the same rally, he said that ever since the Modi government came to power, the state received 11 medical colleges, extension of Railway lines and roads. He added that it is Nitish Kumar who can take Bihar “on path of development”.
There are 11.17 lakh first-time voters in Bihar this time who are about to enter college or have just just entered college. Whether it is the RJD, BJP, LJP or the Congress, everyone has to sell one narrative to them for their votes: jobs. This segment doesn’t care about communalism or Lalu’s fodder scam, they live in the present and look forward to a bright future.
Needless to say, Bihar’s election campaign has been focused this time largely on them and what they want: employment opportunities in Bihar itself.
In the first phase, there are 1,066 candidates in the fray and 21.46 voters will exercise their rights which will seal the fate of the candidates. Among major names are BJP’s Sreyashi Singh, who has been a CWG winner fielded from Jamui, 28-year-old Divya Prakash from the RJD who has made heads turn for being the youngest of the lot and been fielded from Tarapur. HAM’s Jitan Ram Majhi who has been the state’s CM for a brief period will also fight it out from Makhdumpur tomorrow.
Maoist-infested seats will go to poll in this phase 1. A total of 71 seats including the Maoist-infested districts will go to the polls tomorrow. Six members of the Bihar cabinet are contesting in the first phase itself.
After a man was killed and many hurt in firing during Durga idol immersion in Bihar’s Munger where the police’s role has come under criticism, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad called the lathi charge by police as “barbaric”, demanding suspension of guilty officers immediately. The VHP has also smelled a “conspiracy” by the police and administration.
“The unprovoked, unnecessary and barbaric lathi charge on peaceful and unarmed devotees going for the immersion of Devi Durga idols is condemnable in the strongest terms. It is unfortunate that one devotee has died and six others seriously injured by the brutal lathi charge,” said VHP’s working President Alok Kumar.
Munger police claimed ‘elements’ within the crowd who fired, which led to the death of a young man.
But Alok Kumar claimed that the incident can be a “conspiracy of the local administration and police” to affect the Bihar Assembly election.
In a 4-part demand, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad asked for immediate suspension of the guilty police and administrative officers and enquiry against them. The VHP has also demanded that those personnel who may be found guilty in the enquiry shall be prosecuted “including under Section 302 IPC in a fast track court and punished”. IPC 302 pertains to cases relating to murder.
VHP’s working President has also demanded adequate compensation for the persons “affected by the unlawful attack by the police” as well as “effective steps” to prevent the recurrence of such events in future.
Earlier LJP chief Chirag Paswan, whose party is fighting against JDU, tweeted: “Munger police should be charged with murder. Devotees were fired upon in the ‘Taliban-like’ rule of Nitish Kumar. The area Superintendent of Police should be immediately suspended and an FIR should be registered. The family of the victim should be given Rs 50 lakh and a government job.”
Bihar goes to polls on Wednesday for the first phase. (IANS)