In the nearly three-hour monologue, for his first online rally 'Nishchay Samvad', Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar tried to fit in his achievements of the nearly 15-year-old past, while also trying to remind his voters what a pre-Nitish Bihar looked like.
Featuring more than a dozen times in Kumar's two-hour-56-minute speech was the 'Centre', which, Kumar many times asserted, had gone out of its way to help the people of Bihar in times of need. Without naming Lalu, Kumar referred to the Yadav family and its governance repeatedly in his speech talking about the 'Pati-Patni Raj' or the modern age Bihar which had moved beyond the 'lantern', which is the symbol of RJD.
On the issue of Covid-19 and Bihar's handling of the pandemic, Kumar said, "People say anything without knowing the facts", while claiming that he, as Chief Minister, was preparing his state for mass-scale testing way back in March.
"We made arrangements for 15 lakh people who came to Bihar during that time from high risk cities like Mumbai, Delhi and Surat, on their institutional quarantine and spent Rs 5,300 on each of those people," Kumar said. The CM praised the Centre for providing trains to get Bihar labourers back to their state, for providing free pulses and wheat.
Kumar said that despite his state being hit by spells of drought and floods, as it also dealt with the menace of coronavirus, Bihar had fared much better due to the proactive approach of the government. "I came to be called 'Quintillia Baba' because of my commitment of distributing 1 quintal of rice during times of natural disaster. We had set up SOPs to ensure that the state functioned smoothly in times of crises. I have always told my people that the first right on the coffers of the state is of people affected by such disasters," Kumar said.
Pitting the last 15 years that the state functioned under him, except the nine months from May '14 to Feb '15 when Jitan Ram Manjhi served as the Chief Minister, against the 15 years of 'Pati-Patni raj', an allusion to Lalu Prasad Yadav and his wife Rabri Devi, he said that as MP he used to walk 12 km in his constituency every day since there were no roads during RJD's rule.
"But look at the situation today. We promised that the state capital of Patna would be accessible by road in not more than six hours from any point within the state, and we have achieved our goal. Now we're further trying to reduce the travel time by building more roads, flyovers etc. Younger people should be told about what Bihar looked like back then," Kumar said.
In another barb at RJD, he said that in Bihar of that time people would make a point of returning to their homes before sunset but today the law and order situation was everywhere as was electricity, which was why "Bihar had no need for lantern". Kumar said that as the Chief Minister he had ensured zero tolerance towards crime, communalism and corruption, which were the hallmarks of the 'Pati-Patni raj', which was why Bihar had slipped under various types of crime — dacoity, rape, murder — in the national rankings in the latest report of National Crime Records Bureau.
Bihar has 243 Assembly constituencies and elections in the state are due in October-November as the tenure of the current Assembly is scheduled to end on November 29. Because the Election Commission has decided to hold elections on time despite the flood and pandemic situation, parties in the state are relying on electronic media to reach out to their voters.