Narendra Modi government seems to have grand plans for the crucial Bihar assembly polls due in few months from now. The central government may just go an extra mile to reach out the Bihar voters with an announcement of a special package for the state soon. The Bihar polls have become significant for the BJP, which is facing a stiff challenge to counter the incumbent Nitish Kumar led government. Further, the prospects of a united opposition in the shape of ‘Janata Parivaar’ has added to the challenge for the BJP.
On his 10-day visit to US, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley claimed that “support” for the state will be on its way very soon.
“Bihar is a state with a lot of potential. It is a state which has very less industry. It has (a lot of) human resource. It has agriculture. Therefore for an equitable development of the country, Bihar needs to be supported,” Jaitley told the press while talking about Indian economy and the its future course at the Stanford University.
The finance minister, who also doubles up as one of the senior most leaders of the ruling BJP, said the central government is working on various schemes and projects for holistic development of the state. However, he ruled out the “announcement” for the special package as a pre-election sop and claimed that this is not being done with an eye on state elections.
Responding to a question from an Indian-American, Ramesh Yadav, Jaitley said “Bihar has two great resources. One is water, as a result of which its agriculture is quite good. Second are human resources. Bihar has a huge human resource. In fact the first generation of expatriates who went to a lot of countries were from Bihar.”
Noting that in the last two decades Bihar has suffered a setback, Jaitley said a large number of people have left the state for other parts of the country for education and jobs.
“Bihar needs infrastructure. It needs roads. It has two airports Bodh Gaya and Patna. Both of them are in terrible situation. It has not been able to exploit its tourism, including its religious tourism. Its universities need to be propped up a lot,” Jaitley further added.
Till 2013, JD(U)-BJP alliance was running the state government, before the differences between the two allies cropped up over the naming of Narendra Modi as BJP’s PM candidate for the 2014 general elections. The differences ever since then, has only grown bigger.
But BJP, along with a new ally Lok Janshakti Party and Upendra Khushwah led-RLSP, had swept 30 out of 40 lok sabha seats in 2014 polls giving it an edge over an ex-partner and now a top contender JD(U).
At the Center, BJP is also battling the tough opposition over the emotive issue of ordinance on land bill, agrarian crises and crop failures. All these issues may just play a crucial role in the polls. Modi-led BJP may now also face the battle of perceptions with Lalit Modi controversy handing out another issue to the opposition parties.
The elections in Bihar will be held later at the end of this year but the BJP is yet to cobble up the fine print of its alliance or even a candidate for the post of Chief Minister. On the other hand, the opposition parties may step up a challenge in the shape of united opposition, which will include a tie-up between once arch rivals RJD and JD(U).
(With inputs from the PTI)