Bihar Chief Minister and Janata Dal United chief Nitish Kumar will today launch the campaign for the assembly election to be held later this year. Today’s also the birthday of the JDU chief who left the Grand Alliance to relink with the BJP in 2017. He is just a few months shy of becoming the longest-serving chief minister of Bihar.
He will address supporters in Patna’s Gandhi Maidan, where he is expected to announce his party’s battle plan for the assembly election.
Among the issues that he is likely to take up are the demand for special status to Bihar, which he has said will help develop the state, especially at a time when the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government is in the centre; a resolution by the Bihar government on caste census, and the JDU’s stand on the National Population Register (NPR) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) exercise, which was first carried out in Assam to weed out illegal immigrants.
Mr Kumar has made his demands known to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the election year. The centre had done away with the provisions for giving special status in 2015.
“Greetings to Bihar’s Chief Minister and my friend, Shri @NitishKumar Ji. A popular leader who has risen from the grassroots, he’s been at the forefront of furthering Bihar’s development. His passion towards social empowerment is noteworthy. Praying for his long and healthy life,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted.
Greetings to Bihar’s Chief Minister and my friend, Shri @NitishKumar Ji. A popular leader who has risen from the grassroots, he’s been at the forefront of furthering Bihar’s development. His passion towards social empowerment is noteworthy. Praying for his long and healthy life.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) March 1, 2020
“Heartiest birthday greetings to respected Nitish Ji. I pray to god that you live a long life and progress ahead, with self-respect and self-esteem… On the auspicious occasion of your birthday, we expect your cooperation in fight for Bihar’s special status and against unemployment,” RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav tweeted this morning.
The “Karyakarta Sammelan” at Gandhi Maidan will be a show of strength by the JDU. “We are looking forward to receiving inspiration from the chief minister. His addresses are always special. But this time, it is more so as it falls on his birthday,” JDU spokesperson Rajiv Ranjan Prasad said, according to news agency Press Trust of India.
“We cannot think of a better birthday gift than ensuring his return to power with a resounding majority. The party has set a target of securing more than 200 seats for the NDA out of the total 243. This includes putting up a spectacular performance ourselves and helping our alliance partners to win,” Mr Prasad added.
The NDA in Bihar comprises the JDU, BJP and Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party. In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the coalition won 39 out of the 40 seats in the state.
Over the last decade, Mr Kumar has survived many setbacks. Frequent change of alliance partners have made detractors question his credibility, though his position in the state’s politics remains unquestioned.
After his controversial decision to abruptly end the alliance with the Congress and Lalu Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) combine and return to the NDA, Mr Kumar has had different opinion on issues like the instant “triple talaq” and Article 370.
However, the JDU’s support to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill had baffled rivals, who accused Mr Kumar of having capitulated before the larger alliance partner. Mr Kumar earlier this week riled the opposition when the state assembly with more than 50 BJP MLAs in tow, unanimously passed a resolution against the NRC and sought NPR without contentious clauses.
With inputs from PTI