Patna: With election campaigns picking up for Bihar Assembly polls, resentment is growing towards the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) leaders. In the last few days, NDA leaders, including a Union Minister, Bihar ministers, and MLAs, faced the wrath of people during ongoing campaigns in rural areas. Two days ago, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who is also the chief ministerial candidate of the NDA, was embarrassed when an elderly man protested against him at an election rally.
Senior BJP leader and Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai faced ‘go back’ slogans from a group of people during a campaign in the Hajipur Assembly seat in Vaishali district on Tuesday. Cries of ‘go back, go back’ filled the air with youths threatening to not vote for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) again as it had created unemployment.
According to police officials, people expressed their unhappiness near the election meeting at Senduari High School over the government’s failure to fulfil past promises. BJP leaders accompanying Rai tried unsuccessfully to pacify the angry people who protested and vowed to change the state government this time.
However, BJP leaders at state headquarters downplayed the incident by saying that it was some workers and supporters of the opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) trying to create trouble during the election meeting.
Another senior BJP leader and Bihar Labour Minister Vijay Kumar Sinha also faced the disgruntled public who protested against him in Patner village, which comes under in his Assembly constituency Lakhisarai On Tuesday evening, the people protesting over poor condition of roads forced Sinha to return without interacting with them during the campaign.
Villagers had loudly cried “No road, no vote. Go back, go back” and some angry villagers also verbally abused the minister for not constructing a road as promised last time.
This is the second time within 24 hours that Sinha faced angry people. Villagers of Tarhari on Monday protested against him during a campaign as well. However, Sinha alleged that it was the handiwork of his rivals.
Last month, few BJP leaders and workers from Lakhisarai informed the state party leaders that Sinha has become unpopular and the party should replace him with a new candidate. But the party ignored their demand.
Senior JD-U leader and Bihar Minister Maheshwar Hazari was also stopped by protesters in Pusa, which falls under his Assembly seat Kalyanpur in Samastipur district. Dozens of livid villagers demanded him to explain what development work he has completed. When he failed to reply, the protesters shouted slogans against him and told him to leave the village.
A video clip went viral on social media in which the villagers were seen talking to him loudly, asking him to leave the village and not enter without their permission. Hazari was on a campaign to seek support of people for the upcoming elections.
Nearly two weeks ago, senior JD-U leader and Bihar Education Minister Krishna Nandan Verma had a similar experience with displeased voters in Jehanabad Assembly seat. Verma has been fielded from the seat by JD-U, which changed his constituency from the one he won last time.
Reports have emerged about protests by villagers against dozens of MLAs and MPs belonging to the ruling NDA during the poll campaign. The lack of development, rampant unemployment and a failure to fulfil promises appear to have made people unhappy and they are not hesitant in expressing their frustration.
In September, Bihar’s Agriculture Minister and senior BJP leader, Prem Kumar had to face protesters at Chatra village in Goh, Aurangabad district. People protested saying they would not vote for the BJP “without roads.” Shocked by the incident, the minister alleged that RJD workers tried to attack him and disrupt his public meeting.
Protesters confronted Bihar’s Rural Works Minister and senior JD-U leader Sailesh Kumar at Indrukh village in his constituency Jamalpur. Sailesh Kumar was left irritated when villagers questioned him over the lack of roads, irrigation and other basic facilities, followed by a heated exchange of words. Sensing the mood, he left without addressing the people.
Interestingly, Sushil Kumar Modi, a senior BJP leader, has recently claimed that roads were a non-issue in Bihar as the state government has connected all villages.
A JD-U leader admitted that anti-incumbency is visible on the ground as the NDA has been in power in the state since 2005, except between November 2015 and July 2017, when the BJP was in opposition following Nitish Kumar’s alliance with the RJD.
A BJP leader said there is no denying that people are angry and unhappy. However, what worries the party is the decline in Nitish Kumar’s popularity as he is the face of the NDA. “We are hopeful that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 12 election rallies will work in favour of the NDA.”
As per the latest survey conducted by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), Bihar's unemployment rate has increased in recent months. It was reflected in the fact that 2.1 million migrant workers officially returned to Bihar after the lockdown began in March in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Understanding unemployment as an issue that affects everyone, the RJD, Congress and Left parties have been raking up joblessness, reverse migration and the failure of the government to provide work to them.