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Nitish bridge bait before ballot battle

Patna, Dec. 28: Nitish Kumar today showcased the 1.87km bridge on the Kosi linking Mithila and Kosi as his government’s “phenomenal gift” to the people and promised more development and prosperity in the time to follow.

The chief minister was addressing the JD(U)’s Sankalp (resolve) Rally in Darbhanga — construed to be the part of his campaign for the 2014 general elections — that he had launched at an East Champaran village on December 7.

Cold wave conditions laced with dense fog sweeping across the entire northern part of the state were stated to be one of the reasons behind the moderate 15,000 and odd attendance. Nitish repeatedly thanked the people for attending the rally despite hostile weather conditions.

More than the moderate attendance, what might have caused anxiety to the chief minister and other JD(U) heavyweights, including president Sharad Yadav, state party chief Bashishtha Narayan Singh and water resources minister Vijay Kumar Choudhary, were the consistent voices of protest from the crowd.

Several groups, including that of contractual workers in the statistical department and agriculture advisers, demanded regularisation of their services throughout Nitish’s speech. A group of students also created chaos demanding union elections.

The JD(U)’s relatively weak organisational structure once again came to the fore in Darbhanga, a Lok Sabha seat that had fallen in the BJP’s share throughout the 17-year-old alliance. Darbhanga still has BJP’s Kirti Azad representing it in the Lok Sabha. It is Lalu Prasad’s RJD that has primarily fought against the BJP for over last two decades in the Mithila region. Thus, the Sankalp Rally in Darbhanga was also believed to be a part of the JD(U)’s strategy to strengthen its base in the region.

Unfazed by protests, however, Nitish enumerated a large number of roads and bridges his government had got built in the region — largely devastated by the floods caused by several rivers crisscrossing it. “We have not only shortened the distance from one place to another by building roads and bridges. We have also ensured cultural and emotional unity among the people through these roads and bridges,” Nitish said in a bid to strike a chord with the masses.

Nitish attacked the BJP and Congress through allusions and innuendoes. “We talk about social and communal harmony. The state will prosper through mutual affection with each other and spirit of brotherhood,” Nitish said, obliquely referring to the “divisive” politics of the BJP.

At the same time, he attacked the Congress without naming it by alleging that his demand for the special category status to Bihar had been put into cold storage for political reasons. “The Centre constituted the Raghuram Rajan Committee which created the scope for according special status to the backward state like Bihar. But the Centre has turned cold feat to it for political considerations”, he said, asserting, his party’s battle for the same would continue.

He said his initiatives had been praised worldwide. “Even Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen has praised our work and performance,” Nitish added.

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