Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday sidestepped issues of caste and quotas at his first rally in Bihar after polls were declared, saying the state would celebrate two Diwalis this year — the festival itself and the NDA’s victory.
Modi questioned the intentions behind CM Nitish Kumar’s criticism of the special package for Bihar announced by the Centre, raising the electioneering tempo ahead of a state election being seen as a crucial determinant of the PM’s own political sway after a heavy defeat suffered by his party in the Delhi assembly polls earlier this year.
“You have suffered feudalism and separatism, fascism and dynasties. Now, give just one chance for change through development by electing the NDA,” Modi said at Banka, 80 km south of Bhagalpur.
Alluding to Mahatma Gandhi’s Champaran Satyagraha to free the nation from foreign rule, Modi highlighted the need for a similar movement for political change in Bihar at the rally that turned into an interactive session with the crowd.
“People are playing on the minds of the poor by resorting to new electoral tactics,” Modi said. “The Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao scheme was launched by us and people who ruled for 60 years did not think of it.”
“It is us again who have taken up the task of taking power to every rural home,” he said referring to the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Rural Electrification Scheme, for which the PM’s special package reserved funds, and questioned Kumar’s unfinished agenda of completing electrification by 2015, promised in 2007.
Asserting that pulling the poor out of poverty was high on the NDA agenda, he said, “The poor are not even financed by banks, yet the rich are because they can afford to put up guarantees. That’s why we have started the PM Mudra Bank Yojana which can finance petty traders and unorganised workers with up to Rs 50,000. Three lakh people have benefited from it in Bihar alone.”
Deftly attacking the Bihar government on development indices, the PM said, “I do not wish to compare Bihar with Maharashtra, Goa, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat or Haryana but with the neighbouring Jharkhand which suffered from the same set of problems as Bihar some 15 years back.”
He said the World Bank in its ease of doing business survey ranked Bihar at the 27th position among states to Jharkhand’s 29th in the report before last. “Yet, in the latest report, Jharkhand is at 3rd position; Bihar remains stuck at the same rank.”
“This turnaround has come with a change in government and with an NDA leadership. We promise the same to Bihar,” Modi said.