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Congress leader Rahul Gandhi. (ANI)
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi. (ANI)

Bihar polls: Rahul-Tejashwi kick off joint campaign, say it's time for change

  • RJD and Congress are alliance partners in Mahagatbandhan which includes Left parties and is the key challenger to chief minister Nitish Kumar-led coalition government in the state

New Delhi: Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav on Friday kicked off their joint campaign for Bihar assembly elections and said unemployment was the key issue in the state. the The two leaders accused the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the Centre and state of implementing anti-poor and anti-farmer policies.

RJD and Congress are alliance partners in Mahagatbandhan which includes Left parties and is the key challenger to chief minister Nitish Kumar-led coalition government in the state. After being in power for nearly 15 years, Kumar is seeking re-election in a joint bid with Prime Minister Narendra Modi led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

“Nitish Kumar has got tired now and he should just let it be. Those who could not give jobs in 15 years, those who finished the education system and left hospitals in a deteriorated state, what can be expected of them?" Yadav, chief ministerial candidate of the Mahagatbandhan, told a public meeting in Nawada. "The person who did not work for 15 years, he will not work even if you vote him for another 5 years. Tell me, will I not get one chance."

Yadav, son of former chief minister and RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, had earlier served as deputy chief minister under Kumar when the two leaders had come together to contest and form government in the previous assembly election in 2015. Midway through the tenure, Kumar shifted sides and joined hands with the BJP claiming he was unable to work with Mahagatbandhan.

“There is no employment, industries are shut and no efforts have been taken to stop people from migrating from their state. Nitish Kumar did not do anything for poor. And whatever jobs people had, Modi has taken it away. When I become the chief minister, in the first cabinet I will clear 10 lakh government jobs for all of you," Tejashwi Yadav added.

While Yadav raised issues related to Bihar and urged voters to opt for “change", Gandhi too called for a change in regime. But the Congress leader's focus was more on the NDA government at the Centre as he brought “anti-poor, anti-farmer" policies like the recent farm bills.

Gandhi also raised the issue of migrant workers returning on foot to their homes after the national lockdown was announced earlier this year to control the spread of covid-19 pandemic.

“Wherever we have been voted to power, whether it is Rajasthan, Punjab or Chhattisgarh, we have waived off farm loan. NDA government through demonetization and poor roll out of Goods and Services Tax (GST) has affected small traders the most so that a handful of crony capitalists can be helped," Gandhi said in the joint rally.

He also raised the issue of China border standoff saying that while everyone bowed their heads in the honour of martyred Indian soldiers, Modi had ‘insulted’ the common people by saying that nobody had intruded in the Indian territory in Ladakh.

“The key is in your hand now and not in theirs. The decision that you take will decide the fate of Bihar. We have to defeat them now. We need a government that works for the workers, for the progress of the state…Bihar is going to give the right response to Prime Minister Narendra Modi led government," Gandhi added.

Bihar elections will be conducted in three phases -- on 28 October, 3 November and 7 November. Counting of votes will take place on 10 November.

Addressing another public meeting in Bhagalpur, Gandhi held the Centre and state government responsible for plight of migrant workers during covid-19 lockdown, lack of employment opportunities and difficulties faced by micro, small and medium enterprises.

"Both leaders showed very big dreams. Both promised a new India and new Bihar. But they never said how this will be made. You thought it will be an India of employment, farmers progress and education for youth but that did not happen," Gandhi said at the second public meeting.

"People and workers from Bihar were working in different parts of the country for its growth. Modi did not give you any notice and announced lockdown. He did not think even once before doing it," Gandhi said adding that the NDA has destroyed both urban and rural areas through its flawed policies.

Bihar elections will be conducted in three phases--on 28 October, 3 November and 7 November. Counting of votes will take place on 10 November.

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