Refuting Congress president Sonia Gandhi's claim that Central funds were lying unused in Bihar, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday asked her and her party not to make “wild allegations” against the State government. Earlier in the day, addressing election rallies in Kishanganj and Motihari districts, Ms. Gandhi said Mr. Kumar's government lacked the initiative even to spend the amounts sanctioned by the Centre to aid Bihar's development.
Rejecting her allegation of non-grant of land by the National Democratic Alliance government for setting up a branch of the Aligarh Muslim University in Kishanganj, Mr. Kumar provided a blow-by-blow account of the current state of the AMU project. The State had long since cleared land allocation and was awaiting the Centre's nod for it, he said speaking at the release of the manifesto of the Janata Dal(United) for the Assembly elections.
While the Vice-Chancellor originally wanted the university located in Katihar district, he himself suggested Kishanganj considering the district's educational backwardness. “The purpose was to set up a school as well, so as to usher in education in the area. We have already sanctioned 250 acres … now, Ms. Gandhi irresponsibly alleges that we have not cleared land, thereby impairing progress of minorities in the area,” Mr. Kumar said, challenging her to secure all details of the project under the Right to Information Act.
In case there were any irregularities, I would only be too glad to investigate them, Mr. Kumar said, warning that the Congress “should not mix politics with education.”
The manifesto, released by Mr. Kumar and JD(U) national president Sharad Yadav, underscores the allegations by rival parties, specifically the Congress, on the key poll issues of granting coal linkages and permission to process ethanol directly from sugarcane.
“We are not asking for more money from the Centre, only the grant of coal linkages and permission to extract ethanol directly from sugarcane, which would have enabled us to generate electricity. But the Centre has not approved of any coal linkage even under the 11th Five-Year Plan,” Mr. Kumar said.
Had the Centre given assent, it would have led to significant creation of internal resources and opened up new avenues of employment.
Another issue raised in the manifesto is resolution of the power problems plaguing the State. This would take top priority once the government came back to power, Mr. Kumar said.
Another promise is to double agricultural production. The manifesto also talks about setting up a commission to study the conditions of the poor among the Savarnas.
This is being seen as a parallel effort to keep the upper castes content after the establishment of a Maha Dalit commission, set up by Mr. Kumar in 2007 to study the conditions of 22 extremely backward sub-castes.