Kick-starting his party's election campaign in Bihar, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi on Saturday launched a broadside on the Nitish Kumar-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, stating that it was “high time to install a government which worked for the welfare of the people of Bihar.”

“Do you really see any change in Bihar?” He asked audiences in Saharsa and Samastipur on his day-long visit, while lamenting the “corruption that had racked the State since the last 20 years,” and calling upon the youth to bring about a “dramatic change” in Bihar.

Poor governance

Attacking the Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) government in Uttar Pradesh (U.P.) as well, Mr. Gandhi said that both U.P. and Bihar, which should have been the most progressive States in the country, were sadly lagging behind due to poor governance.

“The money which reaches Patna from the Centre simply disappears after its receipt…this is the problem in Uttar Pradesh, this is also the problem in Bihar,” he said.

He said that while critics had initially jeered at the Congress efforts in U.P., the party had done a remarkable about-turn in the last five years and had emerged as a major force.

“We are confident of achieving a similar turnaround in Bihar as well,” Mr. Gandhi said.

Apart from a statement showing solidarity with the captives held by the Naxals in the Lakhisarai encounter, Mr. Gandhi's speech largely focused on the alleged misuse of funds by the NDA government.

He said that despite the claims of development by the government, a large section of the population in Bihar was still forced to migrate to Punjab, Haryana and Maharashtra.

Terming the State's performance in Central schemes such as the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) as “dismal,” he said that a mere 3,000 people had received full 100 days' work.

“Why is the NDA government silent when Bihari people are being beaten up in Mumbai by Raj Thackeray and his cohorts?” he asked.

Double standards

Censuring Mr. Kumar's double standards in his attitude to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, Mr. Gandhi said that despite Mr. Kumar not allowing him to campaign in Bihar, he was seen holding his hands at the NDA rally in Haryana.

He stated that the United Progressive Alliance government had increased the funds for Bihar by almost 100 per cent, to Rs. 1,00,000 crore, compared to what was given during the tenure of the NDA government.