Patna: A day after a poor turnout at the much-hyped ruling Janata Dal’s (United) (JD(U)) karyakarta sammelan addressed by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, criticism is mounting over the low attendance at the event held on the CM’s birthday. Amid tall claims by top party leaders, only one-tenth of the massive Gandhi Maidan was occupied on March 1. Large amounts of cooked food which was intended for party supporters (who failed to turn up) was found dumped near official residences of JD(U) legislators.
State Congress spokesperson Premchand Mishra took strong exception to the wasted rice, pulses, vegetables and puris, saying that it exposed the JD(U)’s mindset; that it could not even distribute the food among the poor. “It has exposed the mindset of JD(U) leaders who have no respect for food. It also vindicated our stand that money and machinery were used to woo party workers and supporters, but failed,” he said.
The ruling JD(U) is in an alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the state and had supported the Citizenship Amendment Bill (now an Act) in both houses of Parliament. However, CM Nitish Kumar announced that the National Register of Citizens (NRC) will not be implemented in the state.
In contrast to the CM’s rally, social media has been flooded with pictures of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav addressing public meetings on the same day (Sunday) at Motihari in East Champaran district. Tejashwi was addressing a ‘Berojgari hatao’ (‘remove unemployment’) yatra and while the CM was addressing a state-level rally of party workers in Patna. RJD MLA Bhai Virendar said it is an open secret that the gathering at Tejashwi’s rally was much bigger than Nitish’s karyakarta sammelan.
Tejashwi too targeted the CM over the attendance shortage. The CM claimed that a united National Democratic Alliance (NDA) would win more than 200 out of the 243 seats in the upcoming Bihar Assembly elections which are due in between October and November this year. Tejashwi mocked Nitish saying the CM could only manage to hold a maharaila cum maha nukkad sabha. “Nitish Kumar failed to bring 50 people from each assembly seat but claimed to win over 200 seats,” he said.
Tejashwi's ongoing Yatra has been drawing huge crowds at the district-level since it began last month. It comes at a time when the unemployment rate among the rural as well as the urban youth in Bihar is among the highest in the country.
Another opposition party leader, Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) chief Upendar Kushwaha said the poor turnout at the CM’s meeting has once again exposed the fact that even his party workers have lost faith in him.
Opposition Hindustani Awam Morcha spokesperson Danish Rizwan said the JD(U) has exposed its own weakness and that it has neither workers nor supporters to showcase the party’s strength. “JD(U) leaders virtually painted Patna green with hoardings, billboards, posters, banners and huge arches with life-size photos of Nitish Kumar; but party workers failed to attend it,” he said.
Former JD(U) leader and poll strategist Prashant Kishor sarcastically pointed to the poor turnout saying that while addressing a “huge gathering” and claiming to win more than 200 seats, Nitish did not explain why Bihar remained a poor and the most backward state.
Kishor also questioned the CM’s repeated claim of good governance and development of 15 years. “Nitish Kumar should have stated why Bihar is still poor and backward despite good governance and development,” he said. Kishor also targeted Nitish for his silence over the communal violence in Delhi. “Also, it was bad on his part not to say a word on Delhi violence,” he added.
Last month, Kishor had questioned the much-hyped development claim of Nitish Kumar. “Bihar was the poorest state in 2005 and has remained the same. It stands more or less the same as it did in 2005 and is at the same level of development. Though some development has taken place, it is not enough,” he said.
What has come as an embarrassment for JD(U) leaders is that that four days ago, thousands joined a massive rally to protest against CAA-NRC-NPR (Citizenship (Amendment) Act, National Register of Citizens, National Population Register) in Patna. The rally was addressed by former Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union (JNUSU) President and Communist Party of India leader, Kanhaiya Kumar, and several others.
Shakeel Ahmad Khan, former JNUSU president and Congress MLA from Bihar's Kadwa Assembly seat, had accompanied Kanhaiya Kumar during the month-long Jana-Gana-Mana yatra which started from Bhitiharwa Ashram in West Champaran and culminated into the Desh Bachao Samvidhan Bachao (Save India, Save Constitution) rally in Patna, after having covered about 4,000 kilometres. “Our rally was much bigger than Nitish Kumar despite the fact that we have little resources and JD(U) is the ruling party that also enjoy support of its ally BJP. But those missing from gathering is a story in itself,” he said.