The manifesto of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) of Lalu Prasad Yadav for the upcoming Lok Sabha election has promised to legalise the sale of taadi (toddy) in Bihar if it wins. The manifesto, titled Pratibadhata Patra (commitment document), was released on Monday by Lalu’s younger son and Leader of Opposition in the Bihar Assembly Tejashwi Yadav.
Releasing the party’s manifesto in Patna on Monday, Tejashwi said that the RJD feels that the Nitish Kumar government’s decision to make the sale of toddy illegal has hurt the poor and raised unemployment in the state. He noted that it was the RJD government headed by his father Lalu that had abolished tax on the sale of toddy in the state in the 90s.
“If our (RJD) government is formed in Bihar, we will remove the illegal tag on toddy and make its collection and sale legal across the state. The ban imposed on collection and sale of toddy has rendered many Dalits jobless,” he aid.
The RJD manifesto also promised that it will ensure reservation for Dalits, other backward classes (OBCs), extremely backward castes (EBCs) in private jobs and higher judiciary. Tejashwi also said a dedicated helpline number will be launched for migrant workers from Bihar to provide them with timely help.
Tejashwi added that his party will also ensure a caste-based census in 2021 if it comes to power.
The RJD is contesting the Lok Sabha elections in Bihar in an agreement with Congress, RLSP, HAM and Vikassheel Insaan Party. As per the seat-sharing formula of the Grand Alliance, the RJD is contesting from 19 seats while the Congress from 9. The remaining 11 seats have been distributed among other constituents of the alliance.
The RJD, which has been struggling with internal rifts since party chief Lalu Yadav was convicted and jailed in connection with the multi-crore fodder scam, is up against a tough challenge against the reunited BJP-JDU combine. In the 2014 elections, the BJP had managed to win 22 seats on its own while the NDA (minus the JDU) won 31. The RJD won only 4 seats in the 40-seat Assembly. The last time that the BJP and JDU fought together in an election was the 2010 Assembly election in the state where the JDU emerged as the single largest party with 115 seats in the 243-seat Assembly, followed by the BJP at 91. The RJD was decimated to a paltry 22 seats.
Getting back to its winning ways will be crucial for the RJD if it wishes to remain significant in Bihar. The poll promises rolled out by the party are thus a clear attempt to woo its core constituency of voters which helped Lalu retain power even in the face of several corruption charges and deteriorating law and order in the state.
The state will go to polls in the Lok Sabha election in seven phases between Aprill 11 and May 19. Counting will be done on May 23.