Differences between JD(U) and the BJP’s came to the fore again as the Bihar allies failed to see eye to eye on the issue of population control. Days after Bihar BJP president Dr Sanjay Jaiswal’s suggestion that the Bihar government incentivise parents with two children or less in a bid to control the state’s population, Nitish Kumar’s party strongly opposed this proposal and called out their ally for misleading the public.
“The BJP has been giving out half-truths on the population of Bihar,” JD(U) MLC Neeraj Kumar was quoted as saying by The Indian Express.
Jaiswal had suggested providing free ration and Ayushman Bharat health cards to parents who have two children, in contrast to Nitish Kumar’s views that “only education and awareness,” and not a bill, will help control the population.
“The Atal Bihari Vajpayee government had set up a population control commission that recommended giving benefits to those government officials who have no more than two children. But the NDA government shot down the idea and gave preference to education,” the Bihar MLC Neeraj Kumar told IE.
Pointing out the recent National Family Health Survey, Kumar said that the fertility rate has fallen in Bihar over the years, while adding that the BJP can’t point fingers at the Muslims as the data suggests that the difference between Muslim and Hindu fertility rate “has come down from 1.10 in 1992 to 0.36″ in the 2021 survey.
“As per National Family Health Survey, Bihar’s fertility rate in 2019-21 was 2.98 against 3.41 in 2015-16. But it is a fact that in 2019-21, the fertility rate dipped fastest in Bihar after Nagaland, at 0.43 against the national average of 0.20,” Kumar told IE.
Refuting Jaiswal’s claim that Bihar has a high population density, the JD(U) MLC, while referring to the data, said that the state has successfully managed its population growth over the last few years.
“Blaming high population density for the state’s backwardness is fallacious. After all, Kerala has higher population density than Bihar and it has managed to put its fertility rate in control,” he told IE.
While several senior BJP leaders, including Union Minister Giriraj Singh, have batted for a strict population control bill, the JD(U) MLC reminded the party on how the Congress’ mass vasectomy exercise in the seventies backfired.