Patna: The killing of migrant workers from Bihar in Kashmir allegedly by militants has once again brought to the fore issues of migration and joblessness in the state, with Opposition leaders raising questions over the oft-repeated claims of development by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government led by Nitish Kumar.
As campaigning for the bye-elections for the two Assembly seats picks up speed, Rashtriya Janta Dal (RJD), Congress, Left parties, and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) of Chirag Paswan targeted Nitish Kumar for his failure to provide jobs to people, especially the poor, who are forced to migrate to other states.
Reports of migrant workers from Bihar being killed in Kashmir have not only shocked the families of the deceased but have also instilled fear among those whose kith and kin are working there. There is anger and panic after the series of violent incidents in Jammu & Kashmir.
RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, who is also the Leader of Opposition in the Bihar Assembly, said the NDA’s ‘double engine’ government had failed to arrest migration as it had failed to provide jobs. This is the ground reality despite Nitish Kumar being Chief Minister since 2005, he said.
“It is unfortunate that the value of the life of a migrant worker killed in Kashmir is just Rs 2 lakh (Nitish Kumar announced Rs 2 lakh each as ex-gratia to the families). Even families of those killed by snake bites and lightning are being provided compensation of Rs 4 lakh. But people who have been forced to migrate outside for livelihood due to the utter failure of the government, if killed by militants, are getting merely Rs 2 lakh from the government”, he added.
Yadav took a dig at the ruling NDA government saying “Bihar mein naukri-rojgar denge nahi, bahar jaoge to maar diye jaoge”.( You won't get jobs or livelihood in Bihar, if you go elsewhere, you will be killed.)
The RJD leader also attacked the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Central government for failure to provide the promised two crore jobs a year and countered the repeated claim made by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi that terrorism would end after removal of Section 370 in J&K. “Modi and BJP should explain to people as to why militants are killing migrant workers from Bihar”? he said.
Exactly a year ago (October 2020), palayan (migration) and rozgar (employment) were the hot topics during the Bihar Assembly polls. The opposition Mahagathbandhan's (Grand Alliance) campaign over migration, jobs and the unemployment situation in the state resonated with voters. Tejashwi Yadav, who was the chief ministerial candidate of the Mahagathbandhan, promised 10 lakh government jobs to the youth of Bihar if they were elected to power. This attracted a large number of youths to his election rallies and compelled the ruling BJP, an ally of Nitish Kumar, to promise to provide 19 lakh jobs in the next five years in its manifesto.
Chirag Paswan, president of LJP (Ram Vilas Paswan) also blamed the Nitish Kumar-led government for the killing of Bohar migrants, accusing the CM of having “miserably failed” to stop migration and provide jobs locally despite being in power for the past 16 years.
In a letter written to Kumar, Chirag Paswan demanded that a separate migration ministry be set up in Bihar for the safety and security of workers outside the state.
“If there could have been an opportunity of jobs or employment in Bihar, people would not have been forced to migrate. During the last one and half-decades, the situation of joblessness has turned bleak in the state. It is a serious condition,” he said.
Ironically, the ruling BJP leaders, including Union Minister Giriraj Singh, a Member of Parliament (MP) from Begusarai Lok Sabha seat, and Minister Niraj Kumar Singh, seem to have no concern for migration and joblessness, as both of them are busy playing the Pakistan card and have demanded no cricket match with that country and for cutting off all relations with Islamabad following the killing of Bihari migrant workers in Kashmir.
In Bihar, joblessness after the lockdown last year and this year, given the COVID 19 pandemic, poses a great challenge with thousands of migrant workers returning to the state, as per official data. More than half of them went back to their workplaces, while many and others are likely to move after the Chhath festival early next month.
Interestingly the state government has no official data of how many workers from Bihar are employed outside the state.