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Bihar Assembly election | For voters, election promises are just old hat

Centre stage: RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav arriving in Aurangabad district to address a rally in support of a Congress candidate on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: PTI

In the Bihar campaign ahead of the Assembly election, if the tall talk of NDA’s chief ministerial face Nitish Kumar has largely disinterested voters, Rashtriya Janata Dal leader and mahagathbandhan (grand alliance)’s CM face Tejashwi Yadav’s poll promise of providing 10 lakh job to youth too has few takers en route to Rohtas from Patna.

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“These are all poll promises, only to be forgotten once the poll is over…the figure of 10 lakh jobs itself appears ridiculous and unbelievable”, an unemployed youth of Narhat village market in Rohtas district, Santosh Yadav, told The Hindu.

Mr. Santosh Yadav, 30, does odd jobs to look after his family of five, comprising three siblings and parents. Earlier, he was working at a garment factory in Gujarat, but after the lockdown, returned to his village to take up odd jobs for his family’s survival. He wants to go back to Gujarat in a month or so before he gets married. “There is nothing here to do…if I do not migrate to earn, I’ll not get married”, he quipped.

When told that he is from the Yadav caste and that Mr. Tejashwi Yadav had promised to provide 10 lakh jobs with his first signature in the first Cabinet meeting, if his government comes to power, Mr. Santosh Yadav threw a puckish smile on his chubby face and hummed an old Bollywood song: “Kasme wade, par-wafa sab, wade hain, wado ka kya? [All promises, love and loyalty are only promises, what to do about promises?]”, before expressing his desire to leave the place to work as a daily wage labourer.

At Rohtas district headquarters (Sasaram) too, several youth are seen roaming in search of daily work at hotels and shops. “Chunav mein jisko jo man mein aata hai bolta hai…10 lakh job dena koi mamuli baat nahi hota hai…Tejashwi ke baat ko hum gambhirta se nahi lete hain [People promise anything during poll time…providing 10 lakh jobs is not a mean thing…I do not take Tejashwi’s promises on a serious note]”, said Ashok Kumar Sahu, who works at a sweet shop near Sasaram.

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“Tejashwi Yadav is young and he needs time to be politically mature and counter experienced leaders like Nitish Kumar…only making promises will not do…one has to deliver as well”, Ramesh Kushwaha at Paliganj Bazaar said.

At Malliabagh chowk (thoroughfare) in Rohtas, Anand Shankar Singh too did not seem very upbeat about Mr. Tejashwi Yadav’s promises to provide jobs to unemployed youth like him.

“I run a cyber café and somehow survive with a family of six people on the meagre daily income but, yes, given a job would certainly make a huge difference in my life…however, I take all this promises of Tejashwi Yadav like the oft-repeated tall talk on the State’s growth and development by Nitish Kumar”, he stated with a sense of ennui.

“Tejashwi Yadav was Bihar’s Deputy CM under Nitish Kumar for nearly three years from 2015-2017, what did he do then for people like us?”, he asked and himself responded quickly, “nothing”.

A few kilometres away in Baghnur village, a group of youth was seen playing cards under a banyan tree in the excessively humid climate. Initially, they appeared reluctant to talk about poll issues but gradually got themselves involved and asserted, “Tejashwi’s promise of jobs to 10 lakh people should not be taken seriously…what happened to PM Narendra Modi’s promise of giving ₹1.25 lakh crore economic package to Bihar in August 2015?”, asked the three of them in chorus.

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And what about Mr. Nitish Kumar saying “they [Tejashwi Yadav and family members] may start their own kaam-dhandha [business] in the name of providing employment?”.

“Someone may ask Mr. Kumar, what has he done for us…he should tell in his election rallies from where and why over 30 lakh people, mostly young, returned to Bihar during lockdown after COVID-19 pandemic outbreak…why we’re still forced to migrate from our State even after he has been in power for 15 years?”.

Tejashwi Yadav, the Leader of Opposition had, recently, announced that if his party were to be voted to power, 10 lakh government jobs would be sanctioned at the very first Cabinet meeting. The RJD leader had also said that the State’s unemployment rate was around 46.6%, one of the highest in the country, with poverty and migration being the by-product of the joblessness among youths.

“There should be a provision by the Election Commission that if someone makes such tall promises in their poll campaign and fails to fulfil them after being voted to power, their election must be declared null and void”, said Indrajeet Singh, who works part-time at a petrol pump in Sasaram.

“It’s cheating of the people, isn’t it?”, quipped his aide Lakhinder Paswan, while fixing the nozzle of the pipe.

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Printable version | Nov 29, 2020 7:29:38 AM |

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