Nitish Kumar sets target of 200 seats for NDA in 2020 Bihar Assembly elections, dismisses rumours sparked by meeting with Tejashwi Yadav
Disapproving of political 'controversies' around the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, Nitish Kumar called for 'patience' as the matter was sub-judice
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar on Sunday asserted that the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is and will remain united in the state
Kumar exhorted party workers to strive towards ensuring the NDA's win in 'more than 200 seats' when elections to the 243-member Bihar Assembly are held this year
Disapproving of political 'controversies' around the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, Kumar called for 'patience' as the matter was sub-judice
Patna: Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar on Sunday asserted that the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is and will remain united in the state, dispelling "confusions" that had arisen in the wake of his recent meeting with RJD's Tejashwi Yadav followed by some Opposition Grand Alliance leaders beckoning him to cross over.
Addressing a 'karyakarta sammelan' (worker's meeting) of the Janata Dal (United), of which he is the national president, Kumar exhorted party workers to strive towards ensuring the NDA's win in "more than 200 seats" when elections to the 243-member Bihar Assembly are held this year.
Disapproving of political "controversies" around the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), which his party had supported in Parliament, Kumar called for "patience" as the matter was sub-judice. Anxieties in some sections of society, particularly among the minorities, have been addressed with a resolution passed by the Bihar Assembly against the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and insertion of contentious clauses in National Population Register (NPR) forms, he said.
The JD(U) chief also reiterated his commitment towards ensuring justice and welfare of all, including minorities, and slammed the Opposition Congress-RJD combine, which keeps attacking him over his alliance with the BJP, by recalling the Bhagalpur riots of 1989 that had claimed over 1,000 lives.
"It is well known who was in power when the riots took place and how justice eluded the victims for 15 years thereafter. We brought the guilty to book and justice was ensured to the victims. I am more concerned about working for the minorities than getting their votes," said Kumar as he highlighted the various schemes being run by his government for minority communities.
The chief minister, who spoke for close to an hour and a half, also dwelt at length on his government's accomplishments with regard to improving law and order, and bringing in all round development. Kumar asked party workers to apprise the common people about the same and debunk the Opposition's propaganda.
On allegations of deterioration in law and order levelled by Opposition parties and the concern expressed of late by ally Chirag Paswan, who heads the Lok Janshakti Party, the chief minister quoted National Crime Records Bureau statistics to suggest that the crime rate in Bihar, when taken into account in proportion to the population, was among the lowest in the country.
Sore over widespread criticism of the poor health and education scenario in the state, Kumar highlighted his government's success in reducing school dropout rates and mentioned the adulation from Microsoft founder Bill Gates who, during his visit to Patna last year, had praised the state's efforts towards "fighting poverty and disease".
The chief minister, who will aim at a fourth consecutive term in power in the Assembly elections due by November, urged his party's workers to draw inspiration from the NDA's stupendous performance in the Lok Sabha polls last year when the BJP, the JD(U) and the LJP had together won 39 out of the 40 seats in Bihar.
Indirectly referring to his one-to-one meeting with Tejashwi Yadav inside his chamber at the Bihar Assembly complex, which had prompted Grand Alliance leaders like former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi to "welcome" him to the Opposition formation, Kumar said, "There is no scope for confusions. We met over the NPR and the NRC debate, and the matter has been settled with a unanimous resolution passed by the Assembly".
"Now there should be dhairya (patience) as the CAA is before the court. Stirring a controversy is not proper," said the JD(U) chief in a veiled admonition to the Opposition. He also pointed out that the law providing for citizenship to refugees fleeing adjoining countries out of religious persecution was conceptualised when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the prime minister.
Flaying the RJD-Congress combine for their agitations over the citizenship law, Kumar said, "I was a member of Parliament then. And, what I am saying can be verified from the records of the proceedings of the time. Leaders like Pranab Mukherjee, Manmohan Singh and Lalu Prasad all were in favour of such a legislation back then."
He also spoke of the "Jal Jeevan Hariyali" campaign which aims at combating climate change through environment preservation and expressed delight over the enthusiastic public participation in the human chain that was formed in its support in January.
Kumar also asserted that prohibition, brought in force four years ago, has had many positive social and economic efforts and reiterated his commitment to securing special category status for Bihar which, he holds, is necessary for accelerated development of a state that has been historically backward.
The chief minister paid tributes to Valmiki Nagar MP Baidya Nath Prasad Mahto, who died in Delhi earlier this week. Condoling his death before he commenced his speech, Kumar winded up his address by making the crowds observe silence in the memory of the departed leader.
The Congress leader accused the Uttar Pradesh government of 'building its image while people are suffering unimaginably'
Some news channels claimed these were of COVID-19 patients from Bihar who might have been dumped by callous officials, state government strongly denied the same, asserting that none of the deceased was a local resident.
According to Ballia residents, at least 45 bodies were seen floating at the Ujiyar, Kulhadia and Bharauli ghats. However, district authorities did not tell the exact number of bodies found.