Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, staring at signs of public anger against his government, has lost his temper all too often while campaigning this time for re-election. In his latest outburst, he has dissed promises of jobs as "bogus". Though his target is opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav, his alliance partner BJP has made similar promises.
Jobs have turned out to be a hot button issue in the Bihar election that ends on November 7. The agenda was set by Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav, who has made 10 lakh government jobs his campaign headliner and believes the theme has resonated with voters.
"Bogus baat hai (it's all bogus)," Nitish Kumar scoffed at a rally in Parbatta on Friday. He said these promises were primarily made to "misguide and confuse" voters.
"These people keep saying we will give you jobs...all this is bogus talk. They will say anything at all. They will try to mislead and confuse people," said the five-time Chief Minister.
It is not known whether Nitish Kumar's caustic comments were also meant for ally BJP, which has promised four lakhs government jobs and 15 lakh employment opportunities in its election manifesto.
The BJP sensed early that Tejashwi Yadav's jobs talk was a big hit with the rally crowds, especially at a time the coronavirus lockdown and the migrants crisis has left the poorest deprived of their livelihood and desperate. Nitish Kumar and his ministers have even faced anger and heckling in some of their public meetings.
While the BJP countered Tejashwi's pitch with its own jobs promise, Nitish Kumar has mostly just questioned such claims, even mocking the 31-year-old RJD leader for his "inexperience". "Will you get the money for all these jobs from scams or will you print fake money," he had questioned in an apparent reference to Tejashwi's father Lalu Yadav, who is serving a jail term for corruption.
At today's rally, Nitish Kumar once again targeted Tejashwi Yadav by harking back to the 15-year rule of his parents Lalu Yadav and Rabri Devi.
During their time between 1990 and 2005, said the Chief Minister, just 95,000 jobs were given - that too, when Bihar included Jharkhand and had not been bifurcated. "In our administration, over six lakh jobs were given and besides this many others were enrolled in other services," he said.
The first phase of voting for Bihar took place on Wednesday. After two more rounds of voting, the results will be declared on November 10.