Patna: Making a scathing attack on Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, poll strategist-turned-politician Prashant Kishor mocked his developmental claims vis-a-vis the "Lalu Raj" in the state on Tuesday, saying that even after 15 years of his rule, Bihar still ranked at the bottom on major parameters of growth.
Launching a no-holds-barred attack on his former boss, the expelled JD(U) leader said it was true that Bihar witnessed some development since the days of former chief minister Lalu Prasad's rule, but raised questioned as to where did the state figure presently, compared to states such as Maharashtra or Haryana.
"How long will you blow the trumpet of accomplishments in governance as compared to those prevailing during the Lalu Raj (RJD rule)... even after you being in power for 15 years, Bihar continues to remain at the bottom on major indices of development," Kishor said at a press conference, the first since his expulsion from the Janata Dal (United).
"Bihar stood at the 22nd position in terms of per capita income among the states in 2005 and it holds the same rank even today," he said while providing some growth figures to buttress his argument.
After the RJD's rule in Bihar from 1990 to 2005, Nitish, leading the NDA coalition with the BJP, threw it out of power and has been at the helm of affairs continuously, except for a brief period when he had appointed Jitan Ram Manjhi to the chief minister's chair after the JD(U)'s debacle in the 2014 general election.
Kishor (42) also sought to puncture Nitish’s developmental claims, which he said was rated as "gold standard" by the JD(U) rank and file, and questioned the success of prohibition in the state.
On the burning issue of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), he said he expected Kumar to disallow grant of citizenship to any refugee in Bihar under the provisions of the new citizenship law until there was a court verdict on the contentious legislation.
At the free-wheeling press conference, Kishor said Bihar could not bear to see its leader becoming a "pichhlaggu" (someone riding piggyback) and also sneered at Nitish for having capitulated before the BJP for the sake of power.
Kishor, who recently helped the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) retain power in Delhi with a landmark victory in the Assembly polls, dismissed the allegation of Arvind Kejriwal equivocating on the volatile citizenship issue for electoral gains and asserted that the Delhi chief minister and his party were "firmly against CAA-NPR-NRC".
"I thank Nitish Kumar for his stance on CAA-NPR-NRC. I hope he would remain steadfast in his opposition, not allow the NRC in the state and use his influence to get the contentious clauses dropped from the NPR forms," he said.
When asked about the JD(U) voting in favour of the Citizenship Amendment Bill in Parliament, the former party vice-president said, "Kumar has indicated that he will like the matter to pass judicial scrutiny. He has said that a court verdict should be awaited."
He said as of now, nobody was granted citizenship in Bihar under CAA provisions, so one could assume that the law was yet to be implemented in the state, adding, "I hope Nitish Kumar will maintain this situation."
"If anybody is granted citizenship invoking this law in the state, I would oppose it in my capacity as a political activist," Kishor, whose stout opposition to the citizenship law had rankled the BJP and threatened to upend its alliance with the JD(U), said.
"Somebody over here has asked about the political rationale of my opposition to these moves, claiming that the Congress suffered on account of opposing the legislation and the AAP had distanced itself from the issue fearing an electoral backlash. I do not know the basis of such conclusions," he said.
Kishor asserted that the drubbing of the Congress in the Delhi polls was not related to its stand against CAA-NPR-NRC.
"As regards Kejriwal and his party, let it be known to all that the AAP is firmly opposed to these moves," the poll strategist, who has collaborated with the Congress in the past in states like Punjab, said.
Kishor berated Nitish’s government for touting the stringent prohibition law in the state as a major achievement, notwithstanding the administration's failure to effectively check bootlegging.
"We could have judged whether or not the liquor ban has been beneficial if alcohol consumption had indeed come to a stop. All of you know that liquor is freely available," he quipped.
Spelling out Nitish’s failures during his 15-year rule, Kishor said he provided students with free uniforms and bicycles but failed to ensure good educational standards.
He got roads built but could not help the people of the state prosper so that they could own vehicles.
The chief minister had improved electricity supply but most people in the state could not afford beyond a light bulb and a fan, he said.
Electricity connection to every household in Bihar and building a metal road in every village with a population of 250 and above formed part of Nitish’s "saat nishchay" (seven resolves of good governance).
Asked whether he saw any possibility of "ghar wapsi" (homecoming) with regard to Nitish, Kishor remarked cryptically, saying, "When did I leave his home? His home has always been home to me."
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Updated Date: Feb 18, 2020 23:26:51 IST