| Nitish Kumar addresses an election rally at a ground in Rohtas district’s Rajpur on Tuesday. Sitting MP Mahabali Singh is seeking re-election to the Karakat seat. Picture by Sanjay Choudhary |
Gaya/Patna, March 25: Nitish Kumar today warned the electorate against voting in favour of communal forces on the plea that they (read the BJP) would pull down his government, derailing the development process of Bihar if they come to power in Delhi.
“Beware! Bihar has come out from deep morass and is progressing on the formula of inclusive growth. Once these forces (read Narendra Modi-led BJP) gain in strength, they would pull down the government elected by you and deflate the process of development,” the chief minister said, addressing an election meeting at Kamauli on the Gaya-Dobhi road.
Embarking on his election campaign, Nitish made a whirlwind tour in a helicopter, addressing four public meetings across four Lok Sabha constituencies in south and central Bihar, which go to polls on April 10.
He addressed the election meetings in the remote hinterlands of Hata (Sasaram), Rajpur (Karakat), Amba (Aurangabad) apart from Kamauli (Gaya). Reports from the field suggested that Nitish drew impressive crowds, between 5,000 and 10,000, which were rated as well attended given the remoteness of the venues.
The impressive crowd on the first day of Nitish’s campaign suggested that the JD(U) was very much in the contest, making it a classical triangular duel along with the Lalu Prasad’s RJD and the BJP.
Exposing the chinks in the development model of BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi-led Gujarat, Nitish said: “The quantum of Scheduled Castes engaged in agriculture in the western state has gone from 81 per cent to 85 per cent. Children are forced to work in cotton fields in Gujarat, which endangers their health, while those in Bihar go to schools.”
Apart from attacking Narendra Modi, Nitish, however, kept his speech at almost all the places confined to his basic and well-tested views: “Showing sensitivity to gender equality, we have ensured 50 per cent participation of women in governance. Our growth model is all-inclusive with weaker sections and affluent ones, Hindus and Muslims, men and women getting equitable chance to grow. Power, roads, bridges, schools and health centres are growing and improving the value of life.”
Unlike Narendra Modi and Lalu Prasad breaking into rhetoric and high-decibel demagogy, Nitish sounded humble to the voters: “Every worker expects wages in lieu of the work he does. Similarly, I have come to you to ask for the wages of the work that I have done for you on the mandate given by you. Let me keep on serving you.”
Striking an emotional chord with the voters at Karmauli and Hata, Nitish said: “Log yahaan satta paane ke liya vote mangne aate hain. Main aap ka sevak hoon (People - read Narendra Modi and Lalu Prasad - solicit votes to attain power. I am your servant.”
Apparently sensing that overdoing his demand for the special category status for Bihar had drawn lacklustre response from the voters during the abruptly-ended Sankalp Yatra recently, Nitish changed the track in his campaigns. Though he said if his party got strength in the Lok Sabha, it would pursue its status demand, he let it be a reference than the central theme of the election speeches.
On the conclusion of his campaign at the end of the day, he targeted his arch-rival Lalu Prasad too: “He (Lalu) has run out of ideas getting desperate day by day. He is making all sorts of compromises to regain his strength.” Nitish was referring to Lalu befriending the trigger-happy criminal of Danapur diara, Reet Lal Yadav, to facilitate the sail of his daughter, Misa Bharati on the Pataliputra seat.
He also ridiculed the Har har Modi slogan, saying Varanasi had been known for Har har Mahadev hailing Lord Shiva. Exposing the arrogance on the part of Narendra Modi (without naming him) in selection of candidates, Nitish said all elderly leaders L.K. Advani, M.M. Joshi and Lalmuni Choubey have either been denied ticket or have been driven to the periphery, showing how the BJP had deviated from the tradition to respect our elders and trying to divide the society on communal lines.