Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Wednesday embarked upon his Samaj Sudhar Abhiyan (social reform campaign) from Motihari in East Champaran district to raise awareness about social ills such as child marriage and the dowry system.
Mr. Kumar said he would participate only in those marriage functions where dowry had not been taken by the family of the bridegroom .“If people want to invite me, they should get it printed in the invitation card that no dowry had been taken in that marriage,” Mr. Kumar told a gathering at Gandhi Maidan in Motihari, the headquarters of East Champaran district.
Mr. Kumar also appealed to people to enforce prohibition in their area and highlighted how peace had returned in society after prohibition was enforced in the State in April 2016.
“Even Mahatma Gandhi had advocated against liquor consumption and termed it the biggest evil of mankind. But some people have always been in the habit of making unnecessary fuss over prohibition,” he said.
He also spoke on social ills such as child marriage and how it had a bad impact on girl’s health.
Mr. Kumar held a meeting with the officials of both East and West Champaran districts to review the progress of different welfare schemes, enforcement of prohibition and the steps taken for the abolition of child marriage and the dowry system.
As part of his campaign, Mr. Kumar will hold public meetings in 12 district headquarters, including the final one in Patna on January 15.
Mr. Kumar has undertaken as many as 12 yatras (journeys) across the State since coming to power in November 2005, during which he addressed public meetings on different issues and reviewed government schemes.
Reform system: Tejashwi
Leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly Tejashwi Yadav took a jibe at Mr. Kumar’s social reform campaign. “Instead of social reform campaign, he [Mr. Kumar] should reform system in the State,” Mr. Yadav said.
“The system has completely collapsed in the state, thanks to the bureaucracy of the government. Inflation, migration, unemployment and poverty have also reached all-time high. Liquor ban has also failed and the State is in dire situation due to failure of bureaucracy. Once the system is reformed, these issues will be automatically resolved,” Mr. Yadav said. “Why has Chief Minister Nitish Kumar launched a social reform campaign when he has been ruling the State for the past 16 years?” he said.
Mr. Yadav, who is the political heir of RJD chief Lalu Prasad, added that he would kick off his Berojgari Hatao Yatra (march against unemployment) across the State from mid-January. “Unemployment has been the biggest problem in the State and the double-engine NDA government, both at the Center and the State, has failed on its promise to provide employment to lakhs and lakhs of jobless youths,” Mr Yadav said.
Party sources told The Hindu that Mr. Yadav is expected to launch his yatra after January 15 following the Makar Sankranti festival.
Recently, the Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee (BPCC) too had carried out a padyatra (foot march) across the State on December 19 in protest against the spiralling prices of petroleum products and other consumables.
While BPCC president Madan Mohan Jha led the march in his home constituency Darbhanga, other party leaders took out the march in other parts of the State. “Since elections in Bihar are far away, leaders of political parties are embarking on yatras and campaign tours highlighting social issues to enthuse party workers and make their party politically relevant in the State”, political commentator Nawal Kishore Choudhury told The Hindu. “It’s nothing but an exercise by leaders to stay connected with people”, he added.