Nitish Kumar confident of win; unveils part-II of development initiative

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar addresses a virtual rally at the JD-U office, in Patna.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Friday welcomed the Assembly poll schedule announced by the Election Commission, and said that if people give him another chance on the basis of his work, he would take up more developmental programmes in the state.

Like his "saat nischay" (seven resolves of good governance) of the current term, his government would launch phase-II of the development initiative for the next five years, Kumar told a press conference at the JD(U) office here.

Kumar had contested the 2015 polls on the plank of "seven resolves", comprising seven schemes for providing, among others, electricity, sewage connection, piped drinking water and toilet at every home, metallic roads linking villages, students' credit card for interest-free loan to pursue higher studies.

"Most of the targets of the seven resolves phase-I have been achieved while the one for providing toilet to every household will be accomplished by the Gandhi Jayanti on October 2," he said.

Kumar said that the Phase-II of the seven resolves would include programmes for enhancing the skill of youths to brighten their jobs prospect, promoting entrepreneurship among women by providing them financial assistance, irrigation facility to every farmland and additional health facilities for people and animals.

"However, it does not mean that we will not pay any heed to works already done. We will strictly monitor them and ensure maintenance," the Janata Dal (United) president said.

On seat-sharing among the NDA constituents, he said that now that the election schedule has been declared, the process will be fast-tracked.

As per the poll panel announcement, elections will be held in three phases - on October 28, November 3 and November 7 - and votes will be counted on November 10.

To a question whether the JD(U) would seek more seats from the BJP, he said, "Such things are not a matter of public discourse".

It is speculated in the political circles that within the NDA, the JD(U) and the BJP will have 50:50 share, but Kumar's party could get one extra seat out the total 243 constituencies. The two main partners will accommodate other allies they are close to.

While the BJP may accommodate the LJP, Kumar's party would part with some seats to Jitan Ram Manjhi's Hindustani Awam Morcha.

LJP president Chirag Paswan has been taking potshots at Kumar regularly indicating a rift within the ruling alliance.

On this, the chief minister said that he does not pay much attention to "what anyone is speaking. We want that all constituents of the NDA fight the election unitedly and win handsomely and the BJP is also working for this."

He said, "There is no question of choice between Manjhi or Paswan in the coalition. We want both of them to give the coalition more strength."

"Manjhi has been inducted in the coalition on the suggestion of the BJP," Kumar said.

Media reports have indicated that in view of the LJPs constant jabs at him, Kumar got another Dalit leader Manjhi in the grouping to counter Ramvilas Paswan's party.

Kumar reiterated that "15 years versus 15 years" would definitely be a campaign narrative.

The NDA has been highlighting the works done during the 15 years of RJD rule in Bihar from 1990 to 2005 vis a vis those under Kumar between 2005 and 2020.

Without naming his bete noire, RJD supremo Lalu Prasad, the JD(U) chief said, "For some, family means sons and daughters. But for me, Bihar is my family and I have no personal interest."

On campaigning during COVID crisis, he said that he would ask his party and the NDA coalition members to abide by the guidelines issued by the poll panel in this regard.

He said that election meetings would be conducted following COVID safety protocols such as maintaining social distancing, wearing of masks and limiting the size of gatherings.

"Keeping in mind the short time available for canvassing, in addition to small-size election meetings, we will also take help of digital mode of campaigning," said Kumar who was accompanied by senior party leader and Speaker of the Assemby Vijay Kumar Chaudhary.

In reply to a question, Kumar said that he does not think that the percentage of polling will be less this time because of the pandemic situation.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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