Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi on Tuesday said that unemployment is not an issue in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections because the ruling coalition has helped create jobs by extending electricity to its remotest villages.
"If every village has electricity now, that means jobs have been created... Electricity has reached every village, the agricultural feeder will last till December, roads are being constructed, there is so much development happening. In terms of jobs, we have provided employment to thousands of engineers in the Bihar Public Service Commission. There are many jobs in the subordinate commission too," Sushil Modi, who is regarded as Bihar's most prominent BJP leader, told NDTV on the sidelines of his 36th road show in the state.
The BJP is fighting the Lok Sabha elections in alliance with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal United (JDU) in Bihar.
Sushil Modi claimed that the opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal never refers to the developmental work carried out by the Nitish Kumar government because it has little to show for the 15 years it ruled the state. The BJP government - on the other hand - has a lot to talk about at rallies, he said.
"The loudest applause we get is when we mention the Balakot airstrikes. Next comes our achievement in electrifying Bihar; now the villages here get at least 22 hours of power every day. Roads and water supply are no longer an issue either," he said.
The Deputy Chief Minister maintained that the standard of living in Bihar has improved substantially under the BJP-JDU rule. "People now have toilets, gas connections, roads and bank accounts. People no longer have to stand in line," he said, adding that digitisation of transactions has cut down on corruption as well as the people's dependence on middlemen.
Sushil Modi claimed that Nitish Kumar is a natural ally of the BJP because he is an honest leader and a visionary in matters of governance. Differences in ideology do not matter, he said, because it plays a "negligible role" in running a government.
But is there any credibility to opposition's claims of unease in the BJP-JDU camp, as may have been indicated by Nitish Kumar's decision to remaining seated as Prime Minister Narendra Modi led his supporters in shouting "Vande Mataram" at a recent rally? Sushil Modi dismissed the question with a shrug. "So? Even I haven't stood up for it on many occasions," he said.
Sushil Modi claimed that while Bihar is heading for change, one aspect it will stand steadfast on is the liquor ban introduced in 2016. "Until Nitish and I are alive, there will be prohibition. If anyone dares remove prohibition, he will be wiped out from Bihar politics," the BJP leader said, adding that he would like to go the extra mile and ban smoking in the state too.