Opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav's promise of 10 lakh jobs and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's sharp response to it has fueled an acrimonious back-and-forth in the campaign for the Bihar election that starts next week.
Yesterday, Nitish Kumar commented at a rally that his Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) rival's promise was an impossible one that no one in the world can keep.
"Where will you get the money to pay the salaries? From the same scam for which you are in jail? Or will you print fake money," the Chief Minister sneered at the rally in Gopalganj, not naming Tejashwi Yadav's father Lalu Yadav, who is serving a jail term in a corruption scandal involving the swindle of government funds meant for cattle fodder.
Nitish Kumar also implied that Tejashwi Yadav was inexperienced. "I see this promise about jobs but people don't have knowledge or experience (to fulfill this promise). Have you seen such a thing in the entire world? Why only 10 lakh? If you're giving jobs, then give jobs to everyone," he said.
Tejashwi Yadav, who plans to address a record 12 meetings today, retorted: "I was Deputy Chief Minister. If I am so inexperienced and immature, then why are BJP leaders chasing me with 20 helicopters? I am a lone man and they are so many. What is their compulsion?"
The 31-year-old RJD leader also took on Nitish Kumar's comments ridiculing his jobs promise. "The Chief Minister is physically and mentally tired. After his 15-year rule, he is asking where is the money for jobs! Rs 30,000 crore is Bihar's budget, where is the money? All gone in 60 scams on his watch. His Jal-Jeevan-Hariyali policy has been assigned Rs 24,000 crore. It is all going into corruption. He spent Rs 500 crore to brighten his face in ads. Then he makes this laughable comment about where's the money to give jobs," Tejashwi Yadav said.
"Nitish Kumar also said there is no ocean near Bihar, so no industries and factories? Winning and losing is part of the game but this Chief Minister has lost it mentally and physically. There is a provision in the budget for 4.5 lakh jobs that are vacant. And 5.5 lakh jobs more are needed for Bihar's progress, according to Niti Aayog. If there is a will, it is possible."
Tejashwi Yadav's "10 lakh jobs" promise has also been mocked by BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis, who said: "I heard Tejashwi Yadav will give jobs to 10 lakh people... They will give the order for 10 lakh country-made pistols and Bihar will again see kidnappings and looting."
Bihar votes for a new 243-member assembly on October 28, November 3 and 7. The results will be declared on November 10.