Patna: In a blow to Bihar’s ruling Janata Dal (United) or JD-U, two of the party leaders including an MLA and MLC, have publicly supported and praised the proposed ‘Berojgari Hatao Yatra (Eliminate Unemployment March)’ by Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav. By backing Tejashwi’s political fight on the streets against the growing unemployment, the two JD-U leaders have exposed a clear cut division in the party that may widen in coming days, ahead of the Bihar Assembly elections later this year.
The unemployment rate among the rural as well as the urban youths in Bihar is among the highest in the country. With the Assembly polls a few months away, the ruling BJP-JDU coalition may face the anger of the young population.
Apart from the two leaders, there are reports of increasing restlessness among over two dozen JD-U MLAs, including half a dozen Muslim MLAs, owing to the anti-incumbent mood on the ground. JD-U’s Muslim MLAs, majority of whom have been elected from Muslim-majority Seemanchal region—comprising Kishanganj, Purnea, Araria and Katihar districts—are dealing with an uncomfortable situation following JD-U’s support to Citizenship (Amendment) Act.
Last month, JD-U Chief Nitish Kumar expelled two senior party leaders Prashant Kishor and Pawan Verma for challenging and questioning his support to CAA. By expelling both—Kishor, party’s national vice-president and Verma, party’s general secretary—from the JD-U, Nitish Kumar has assured ally Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that there is no place in the party for those opposing CAA.
Amarnath Gami, JD-U MLA from Hayaghat seat in Darbhanga district, has questioned the government’s failure in overcoming the unemployment crisis and has supported Tejashwi's yatra.
“There is unemployment in Bihar without a doubt. If there was no unemployment, then people would not have left Bihar to work in other states. No government has ever worked to address this issue in the state. The government should focus on this issue. It is not possible to reduce unemployment without the Centre’s help,” said Gami.
“If Tejashwi ji is taking out a ‘yatra’ against unemployment, he should know that just by doing this, unemployment will not be removed. To solve this issue, a plan should be made and the public should be informed about it,” he said.
JD-U MLC from Banka, Javed Iqbal Ansari, a former minister, too has supported Tejashwi's yatra to highlight increasing unemployment in the state.
“Opposition leaders are taking out 'Berojgari Hatao Yatra'. Migration from Bihar due to unemployment has increased in the past 10-15 years. People go to other states to work, but get insulted. Anyone who hits the streets for the future of the youth should be appreciated.”
Ansari had met RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav last week at a government hospital in Ranchi, giving rise to speculations in political circles. Lalu is undergoing treatment in the judicial custody after he was convicted in a fodder scam case over two years ago.
Tejashwi Yadav, Bihar opposition leader and former deputy chief minister, plans to embark upon the Berojgari Hatao Yatra from February 23. He will visit all 38 districts to reach out to people by “exposing reality of the unprecedented unemployment” among people.
Tejashwi's attempt to raise unemployment as an issue in an election year is a sign that opposition will focus on issues that affect millions in the impoverished and backward state to counter JD-U’s ally BJP’s polarising poll planks.