NEW DELHI: Even as PM Modi and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi hit the campaign trail in poll-bound Bihar on Friday and attacked each other over the Chinese intrusion in Ladakh and such extraneous issues as Article 370, Tejashwi Yadav – Lalu’s son – was down to earth, focussing on such issues as unemployment – especially government jobs, which strike a chord with an average Bihari – and reverse migration during the pandemic.
Though Tejashwi cannot hope to match Lalu, who was known for his oratorical skills and histrionics, the former is getting much traction for being more ‘responsive’ and his ability to connect with the youth.
In fact, the ‘satta’ bazaar, which is often regarded as the barometer of the fluctuating political fortunes, is giving the NDA 89 to 93 seats (BJP – 56/59 and JDU 33/34) and RJD a handsome 90 to 93; the Congress is likely to add to the tally of its partner with 30 to 33 seats; the Left will bring with it the heft of its ‘safe’ constituencies.
‘‘Nitish Kumar says that because Bihar is landlocked, big industries can’t come here. When Laluji was the Chief Minister and brought jute mills, paper mills, railway factories, was Bihar surrounded by a sea? Nitishji says that there isn’t enough money to give salaries to 10 lakh government employees. Let me explain how it can be done,” Tejashwi said to a crowd in Nalanda’s Hilsa constituency.
“Bihar’s budget is Rs 2 lakh 13 thousand crore. The unspent funds of this budget are close to 40% or Rs 80,000 crore. This much money is enough to fund salaries of 10 lakh government employees and we will create these many jobs for the first time in the history of the country; this will be done in the first cabinet meeting we hold after coming to power,” Tejashwi said to a roar from the crowd.
"Nitishji, you have got tired. You won't be able to take care of Bihar," the 30-year-old said, driving home his message.
Then, came the knockout punch. His father Lalu’s final bail hearing is on the 9th, Tejashwi told the rally. “Nau ko Laluji riha honge aur dus to Nitishji vida honge (On 9th November Lalu Yadav will be released and on 10th, the date of counting, Nitish Kumar will make way),” Tejashwi said.
Addressing three back to back rallies, PM Modi, in turn, castigated the opposition over its stand on the abrogation of Article 370 and the Galwan Valley clash, an emotive issue for the state as several soldiers of the Bihar regiment were killed in the hand-to-hand combat.
Referring to the Galwan Valley clash, Modi said the sons of Bihar valiantly laid down their lives for the Tricolour but did not let "Mother India bow her head". Rahul Gandhi hit back, accusing the prime minister of "insulting" the soldiers with his comment that there was no Chinese intrusion in India.
Addressing a rally in Hisua in Nawada district, Gandhi said: "They have seized 1,200 sq km of our land. But when the Chinese army intruded, why did our prime minister insult our soldiers by saying that nobody had entered into the Indian side?"
"The question is, Modi ji, when will you throw out the Chinese soldiers sitting in our territory?" Gandhi asked.
The state is voting in three phases on October 28, November 3 and November 7, and the results will be announced on November 10.