Nitish Kumar’s agenda

Published : Nov 11, 2015 16:00 IST

As a full-fledged interview with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar could not be had when Frontline went to press on November 8, readers are offered a compilation of the views expressed by him on the Assembly elections and the future plans of his government during brief interactions this correspondent had with him on the sidelines of press conferences and on the campaign trail.

Some general comments Nitish Kumar made during some press conferences and media interactions are also included.

On the priorities of the new government.

Over the past 10 years, I have worked to the best of my ability and within my limitations. What we have done is there for everybody to see. Significant improvements have been made in several areas, including public health and primary education, and better facilities have been provided for girls and boys to pursue education.

A systematic and deliberate process was pursued earnestly to ensure and enhance the participation of extremely marginalised sections of society in the democratic process. This has made some impact among the Most Backward Castes [MBCs] and the historically gender-discriminated female population. Parallelly, the agenda of creating basic infrastructure has also been systematically advanced. Irrigation and other support facilities have increased for the agrarian community.

Much more needs to be done in these areas as also in other areas. We have promised that in the next five years every household will be given clean water supply. Women will get 35 per cent reservation in all government jobs.

Also, in the next two years, all villages will get electricity. We are also planning to give self-help allowance of Rs.1,000 to unemployed youth in the 20-25 age group. Students who pass out of class 12 and who are qualified to pursue further studies will get an education loan of up to Rs.4 lakh.

All these are big targets. We will do our best, as always, to achieve them.

On what this election means to Bihar and India.

This election is a battle between the concept of development with social justice on the one side and the notion of development that promotes crony capitalism and the negatives of economic liberalisation on the other. The BJP and its allies in the NDA have sought to cover up this anti-people mission by trying to cause communal divisions in society. The Dussehra-Muharram season was sought to be exploited to create communal polarisation. Timely intervention by the authorities thwarted these evil designs. The people of Bihar have seen and experienced both these development concepts. They know from my governance track record of the past 10 years and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s record at the Centre since May 2014 what each of us represents personally and politically. I have no doubt they will choose wisely.

On the factors that will assist in the Grand Alliance’s victory in the elections.

You can see that all across the State. There is support cutting across divisions, caste and communities for our development agenda.

On the perceived role of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Lalu Prasad in the new government and the apprehension that he may turn out to be a big brother of sorts.

Lalu ji and I go back a long way. We are like brothers. All these motivated campaigns will not drive a wedge between us.

On trying to bring back the deserted MBC and Mahadalit leaders and their support base into the Grand Alliance.

We have not kept anyone out deliberately. If these leaders are ready to abide by the party’s principles, they can come back.

On whether he will use his next term in office to make his alternative development plank more substantive by ensuring the implementation of land reforms and distribution of land to the landless.

Many journalists have asked this question. When you administer a State, several factors can come in the way of implementing noble and worthwhile causes. It’s not because the government does not have the will or the political will. Each proposal will be addressed carefully to take a decision, and implemented at the right time.

As told to Venkitesh Ramakrishnan

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