Patna, April 7: The warring cousins of the state politics have similar post-election promises on all but one front — economics.
“The cousins — JD(U) and RJD — have inherited the same legacy and swear by the same icons — Karpoori Thakur, Jayaprakash Narayan and Ram Manohar Lohia,” said a veteran in politics.
The release of the election manifestos of the two key parties was followed by jibes by both Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar. “Nitish could not do anything for the state in his nine-year tenure. Now he is blaming the Centre for all the wrong-doings,” Lalu said.
On the other hand, Nitish, in his Facebook page, declared that Lalu symbolises the “destruction of Bihar and the manifesto released by such a person has no meaning”.
Yet, the manifestos of the two parties have many things in common. Both speak about giving reservation to the minorities in government and non-government institutions. Both have held out a promise for the upper castes — the RJD promises quota for them while the JD(U) guarantees a commission. Both speak about strong measures to curb communal forces. Both have advocated special status category for Bihar. The JD(U) speaks of replicating 50 per cent reservation for women in panchayat and municipal bodies while the RJD talks about quota for women belonging to the backward castes, Dalits, minorities and Scheduled Tribes.
However, the RJD manifesto, unlike the JD(U)’s, completely skips economics and has made promises, which are financially unattainable. It is not a coincidence that at the release of the JD(U) election manifesto, its national president Sharad Yadav praised noted economist Saibal Gupta for putting behind efforts to write the paper. The JD(U) speaks about maintaining a double digit growth rate of the state with promises of slashing down centrally sponsored schemes for which states have to foot a heavy bill. It has talked about more devolution of funds from the Centre to states besides rectifying regional disparity in investment.
In complete contrast, the RJD talks about “removal of contractual service” started by Nitish. They include over 2.5 lakh teachers, large number of anganwadi workers, Asha workers, computer operators, doctors among others. Hundreds of them have been agitating for ages for regularising their jobs. The RJD has not calculated the cost of regularising these jobs. It, on the other hand, suggests total prohibition in phases despite the state earns over Rs 2,000 crore as excise tax from liquor.
Although the RJD manifesto promises something for every section, it has gone all out to woo the minorities. It has promised reservation in government and private jobs and also educational institutes for the minorities. It has also promised to bring amendments in the Article 341 to bring “Dalit Muslims” to the status of Scheduled Caste.
Lalu said the party was serious in implementing its election manifesto. “Nitish could not achieve anything and is now blaming the Centre for all its woes,” he said.
The RJD has promised that it would work for creating a special force to prevent riots and the minorities would have substantial participation in the force. It also promised to deliver justice to innocent Muslim youths who have been jailed in the name of terrorism.
He also recalled that both the BJP and JD(U) had blamed him for closing down all the sugar mills. “The truth was that I inherited closed sugar mills. But I would like to ask both the BJP and JD(U) to name one sugar mill they have managed to open,” Lalu said.