Bihar Polls 2020: Can Nitish Kumar Fulfil Promises Amid Lockdown?

Rallies and preparations for 2020 Assembly elections come to a halt in Bihar amid COVID-19 scare and lockdown

Published
Politics
3 min read
Bihar CM Nitish Kumar. Image used for representational purposes.
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As India reels under the COVID-19 crisis and the ensuing lockdown, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has another reason to worry. Assembly elections are set to be held in the state in the latter half of 2020. Under normal circumstances, by this time, all political leaders in the state would have begun drawing up poll strategies, campaigning and working against the clock to fulfil all promises made to the people.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, had made seven promises to the people of his state when he was elected to power in 2015. The deadline to fulfil these promises was June 2020. But with the lockdown now extended to 3 May, meeting this deadline could be tough.

What Were Nitish Kumar’s Key Promises?

  1. Tap water connection to every household
  2. Electricity to every home
  3. Concrete roads and drains
  4. Accessibility to toilets
  5. Renovation of lakes and ponds
  6. Student credit card: access to loans worth more than Rs 4 lakh
  7. Free Wi-Fi in schools and colleges

According to media reports, Nitish Kumar was not in favour of extending the lockdown that began in the last week of March. The CM was worried that he wouldn’t be able to fulfil all his promises if the lockdown extended. The CM held a meeting via video conferencing with senior state government officials.

To combat unemployment during the second phase of the lockdown, the Bihar government has begun drawing up plans for different sectors. As of now, the government has decided to implement these plans in rural areas while also following social distancing guidelines and norms. Work to fulfil the seven promises mentioned above has already begun.

Rallies and ‘Yatras’ Come to a Screeching Halt

The Nitish Kumar government’s term in Bihar ends on 29 November 2020. This is barely 6 months away. In the present situation, all political parties have been forced to cease all election related work and political leaders have remained confined to their homes.

Campaigns to reach out to voters and strengthen political presence in multiple constituencies have been put on hold across all parties.

Former Bihar deputy CM and leader of Opposition in the Bihar Assembly, Tejashwi Yadav, could also be forced to stop his ‘Berozgari Hatao Yatra’. Tejashwi Yadav has been holding rallies across the state to corner CM Nitish on the condition of unemployment in Bihar. However, he has had to pull the brakes on such rallies due to the COVID-19 scare.

Lok Janshakti Party chief Chirag Paswan has also had to put a stop to his 'Bihar First, Bihari First yatra’. Political leaders are being forced to take maximum precautions to ensure their own safety. Politicians say that this is the first time that they have been feeling so helpless.

Crucial BJP Meets Cancelled?

BJP is also missing out on the opportunity to expand the party's reach in the state. March, April and May were crucial to the BJP as the party had planned multiple programmes and events in these three months. However, due to the lockdown, these events could now stand cancelled.

The conference that was to be held between the JD(U) and BJP had to be abruptly cancelled due to the COVID-19 scare. As of now, the biggest fear that all these parties are faced with is that of losing their vote bank right before the elections.

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