By the end of this year, one of the most important assembly elections in the country is to take place- Bihar Assembly election 2020. This election is so crucial that Nitish Kumar, the CM of the state for almost one and a half decade, has already started putting posters across the state with slogan ‘Kyo kare vichar, thike to hai Nitish Kumar’, which loosely translates as ‘Why look for a change, Nitish Kumar is doing great’.
And Kumar was all set for a smooth ride, until the country was gripped with Coronavirus crisis. Amid the Coronavirus outbreak, all Chief Ministers have employed their full capacity in fight against the disease. And the fight against Coronavirus is either bringing best or the worst in these leaders. So far, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and UP CM Yogi Adityanath has proved to be some of the best leaders in fight against the disease and the CM of Bihar, Nitish Kumar, with around one and a half decade of experience, has proved to be one the worst.
The media, opposition, allies, all are slamming Nitish Kumar alike over his inactiveness in dealing with Coronavirus crisis, but Kumar is nowhere to be seen. People are comparing his performance with that of young and dynamic CM of UP- Yogi Adityanath.
The problems in UP and Bihar are a lot similar given high population density, low per capita income, and a large migrant population, and therefore, comparing the leadership of these two would make more sense.
On one hand, Yogi Adityanath has made all out efforts to bring every possible relief to migrant laborers not just of UP but of other states like Bihar and Jharkhand too, while on the other hand, Nitish Kumar has not made a single visit to relief camps so far.
“When Yogi Adityanath has sent buses to bring labourers from the Delhi border and Yediyurappa provided concessions of five to six hours for migrant workers to leave Bengaluru, Nitish dumped Bihari workers at a critical time,” said former RJD MP Jai Prakash Yadav.
Chirag Paswan, whose party is ally of Nitish Kumar in the state, also criticized the inaction of Bihar government over migrant crisis. “We are receiving calls from Bihari workers from all over India. I personally spoke to the chief secretary but nothing significant was done last week,” said Chirag Paswan. “I spoke to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to help migrant workers, but nothing happened for the first two days in the last week,” he added.
Nitish Kumar government is so careless and unprepared that Bihar’s top medical college is facing a shortage of personal protective equipment despite having one of the lowest numbers of patients among states. The staff Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (IGIMS), Patna, has come to roads to protest for PPEs.
As per 2011 census, Bihar has around 2.5 crore migrant workers, which is equal to population of smaller states like Punjab or Haryana. Out of the 2.5 crore workers, 2 crore come from rural areas and 50 lakh from urban areas, and majority of them work as daily wage laborers in various states like Maharashtra, Haryana, Punjab, and UT of Delhi. These migrant workers bring millions of dollars in remittances to the state and help the economy of the state as well as support their families. But the apathy of Nitish Kumar government towards the migrant laborers, who contribute billions of dollars, is appalling.
The migrants not just contribute billions of dollars as remittance but also most of them are head of the family. In many cases, the migrants are the only earning member of the family and therefore they have disproportional influence on various decisions taken by family, including whom to vote. And given the apathy shown by Nitish Kumar government towards migrant workers, in is very unlikely that they will vote JD (U) back to power. BJP, which is an ally of JD(U) in centre and state, will be also thrown under the bus along with Nitish Kumar’s party.
Therefore, if BJP is willing to win the 2020 Bihar assembly election, the first decision after the Coronavirus crisis ends should be to dump Nitish Kumar, and field its own candidate for CM race. Even if the alliance with JD(U) goes on, a BJP member, not Nitish Kumar, should be the CM candidate. Otherwise BJP would have to pay for the indecisiveness of Kumar by with loss in the state.