Prashant Kishor announced the launch of a mega outreach campaign titled 'Baat Bihar Ki'. The campaign would reach out to people who believe that Bihar is in the need for new and powerful leadership.
Prashant Kishor, political strategist and the former Janata Dal (United) vice president who was expelled from the party over his anti-CAA stand, has embarked on a mission to debunk Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s development claims ahead of the Assembly elections in the state. Breaking his silence for the first time following his unceremonious exit from the ruling party in Bihar, Kishor on Tuesday presented a ‘white paper’ on the work undertaken by the Nitish government in the last 15 years in Bihar, drawing comparisons between the situation of the state in 2015 as compared to 2005 when the chief minister first took charge in the state.
Addressing the media, Kishor also announced the launch of a mega outreach campaign titled ‘Baat Bihar Ki’ from February 20. The campaign, he said, would reach out to people who believe that the state is in the need for new and powerful leadership.
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“I am starting a program called ‘Baat Bihar Ki’ from February 20 to work towards making Bihar one of the 10 best states in the country,” he said.
“We want a strong leader who doesn’t hesitate in speaking for the betterment of the state and doesn’t become someone’s follower while compromising on the development of the state,” he said in an apparent reference to Nitish Kumar aligning with BJP.
Nitish Kumar’s development claims
Kishor said that contrary to Nitish’s tall claims of development in the state, Bihar has failed to make any significant progress when compared to other states. “Nitish ji worked in the field of education. He distributed cycles, school dress, even admission increased in the schools. But he failed to provide quality education. In the education index of the Government of India, except Jharkhand, Bihar is the most backward state,” Kishor said.
“I appreciate Nitish Kumar for providing power to every household. Electricity has reached every house today. But in terms of household electricity consumption, Bihar is the country’s most backward state. Household consumption per family in the country is 900 KW, but in Bihar it is 202 KW. People are poor and they can’t use more than a bulb and fan,” he said, adding that while Nitish government constructed roads, people are incapable of buying a vehicle to use those roads. “Vehicles ownership in Bihar is one-fourth of the country’s figure,” he said.
“For how long will you (Nitish) keep harking back to the situation prevailing under Lalu Prasad Yadav’s rule? Isn’t it time that we look ahead and think of developing the state that can match the likes of Gujarat, Maharashtra or Karnataka? Can we not develop Bihar into a state where people from Surat in Gujarat come to find employment? How long will people of this state keep going to other states in search of employment?” Kishor said.
Kishor further accused Nitish of making an ideological compromise to stay in the alliance with the BJP. He said that many leaders in the JD(U) feel staying in an alliance with the BJP will help the party. Kumar’s former trusted aide said the chief minister believes that in an alliance, “there are times when you have to compromise”.
Kishor said that there have been many discussions between him and Nitish about the ideology of the party. Nitish, he said, always said that the JD(U) can never leave the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi. “But today, JDU is aligning with a party that is soft on (Nathuram) Godse,” he remarked.
On his expulsion from the JD(U), Kishor said, “I have had good relations with Nitish Ji. I have immense respect for him. I will not question his decision.”
Questioning the claims of development in 15 years, he said that there is no doubt that development took place in Bihar during the last 15 years under Nitish Kumar’s leadership. But the state, he said, remains moreover at the same position where it was in 2005 on several parameters of development.
“While Bihar has made progress, we must also see things from the perspective that compared to other states. Bihar is lacking even today. Bihar is still the most backward state in India,” he said.
“The pace of growth was not as it should have. Bihar was the poorest state in 2005 and continues to be so. There is no one to question Nitish Kumar’s governance model,” the poll strategist told reporters in Patna.
Attacking Nitish further, he said, “There is no doubt that Nitish Kumar failed in the last 15 years to produce good 200 MLAs who can take the state ahead on the path of development.”
“I urge Nitish Kumar or any of his ministers to debate with me in open forum on data points pertaining to Bihar’s development,” he said.
Kishor said people are now asking what have you done for Bihar’s development in the last fifteen years and what will you do if you win state polls.
Prashant Kishor as Opposition face in Bihar polls?
When asked if he would contest elections in Bihar against Nitish Kumar, the poll strategist brushed aside the suggestion and said that making other parties fight and win elections is what he does every day. “That is not what I am here for,” he said.
There has been a strong buzz around Kishor joining hands with the RJD and Congress against Nitish Kumar. Several media reports have suggested that there have also been discussions with Kishor on this front. The RJD, which has ceded space to the JDU and the BJP in elections after elections, is desperate to claw back to power and projecting Kishor could give it a much-needed image makeover. However, with Kishor playing his cards close to his chest, only the coming months will show the role he will play in the run-up to the elections slated for October-November this year.