Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar asserted on Monday that it was not possible to ensure population control through laws.
He was reacting to Union Minister Giriraj Singh’s call for a policy on population control in Bihar similar to the one launched by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
“Look at China or, for that matter, any other example”, Mr Kumar told a select group of media persons on the sidelines of his weekly j anata ke durbar mein mukhyamantri (Chief Minister in people’s court) programme that resumed on Monday after gap of nearly five years. “It was eureka moment for my government when data showed that girls’ education up to class XII helped in drastically reducing fertility rate,” he said.
“When women become more educated and aware, population growth will be reduced”, he said. “By 2040, the population rate in the country will stagnate and after that it will start reducing... Some people may believe that this can be done only by a law, but our thinking is clear. I’m not in favour of any law. It is not just about one community, but everybody will benefit if women are educated,” said Mr. Kumar who heads an NDA government in alliance with the BJP.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, while launching the State’s population policy for 2021-2030, had said that “increasing population can be an obstacle to development”. Union Rural Development Minister and senior Bihar BJP leader Giriraj Singh later said there must be a similar legislation in Bihar to check the exponential growth in population. “Overpopulation is a major obstacle to development and social harmony,” Mr. Singh told media persons in his parliamentary constituency Begusarai on July 11.
State BJP MLA from Bisfi constituency too echoed a similar sentiment. “A conspiracy is underway to turn India into an Islamic nation. The Bihar government needs to enact a stronger population policy to foil such design by certain elements,” he said.
The ruling alliance partner JD(U) and Opposition mahagathbandhan (grand alliance) leaders reacted strongly to the BJP leaders’ comments. “They are advocating this to polarise votes”, said JD(U) leader Ghulam Gaus. Former Minister and party colleague Jai Kumar Singh said Bihar government was trying to check population growth by educating girls and women.
Opposition Congress MLC and senior State party leader Prem Chandra Mishra said his party had also tried to check population growth by resorting to hum do, hamare do (we two, ours two) policy which backfired. “Our party is also in favour of containing population growth, but not through force.”
Opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal leader and party spokesperson Mrityunjay Tiwari said, “ a particular religion was being targeted through this population policy of the BJP”.