Wi-Fi, credit cards, job quota: Nitish lures youth and women voters

  • Anil Kumar, Hindustan Times, Patna
  • Updated: Sep 17, 2015 18:08 IST
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar addressing a press conference in Patna. (PTI Photo)

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar on Friday announced plans to give credit cards to college students, free Wi-Fi in all university and colleges and 35% reservation to women in all government jobs, provided he is voted again to power.

He unveiled an integrated seven-point agenda worth Rs 2.70 lakh crore for the next five years, including Rs 49,800 crore for the welfare of Bihar’s youth and job quota for women.

The strategy to catch the attention of the youth and women is significant because nearly 24 lakh first-time voters will cast their votes in the autumn assembly election, dubbed as a make-or-break battle between the JD(U)-RJD-Congress grand alliance headed by Kumar and the BJP-led NDA.

“Bihar has the highest population of youth. And to achieve development targets we plan to have an integrated action plan to provide student credit cards to those who have passed class 12, free Wi-Fi access in all universities and colleges, self-help allowance and registration and employment advice centres to assist them find their footing,” he said.

He borrowed heavily from newfound friend Arvind Kejriwal’s free Wi-Fi promise in Delhi as Bihar has 2.12 crore voters in the 18-29 age group, the main internet users. Also, he added his own ingenuity to the package by pledging a registration and employment advice centre in each of the 38 districts.

The proposed credit card scheme will help students get an education loan of Rs 4 lakh for higher studies with the government chipping in with an interest subvention of 3%.

“All unemployed youth, aged 20 to 25, would be provided a self-help allowance of Rs 1,000 for nine months to help them explore job avenues and appear in outstation interviews,” he said.

Kumar positioned his agenda as a plan to provide a leg-up to development, but his emphasis on quota for women was a giveaway that he was angling for the support of more than three crore women voters who constitute almost half of the state’s total electorate.

At present, women are entitled to 35% quota in police jobs. “We have provided 50% reservation for them in panchayats. If I get another chance, I will ensure they get reservation of 35% in all government jobs in the state,” he said.

Women’s reservation in panchayats paid huge electoral dividends for Kumar in the 2010 assembly election.

For first-generation entrepreneurs, the chief minister said a Rs 500-crore venture capital fund will be in place to assist them financially.

Read: Nitish Kumar dismisses PM Modi’s Bihar package as political bluff

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