- "Bihar is now celebrating the festival of democracy," PM said
- PM also credited Nitish government with bringing progress in state
- PM Modi is scheduled to hold 12 election rallies in Bihar
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, campaigning today in Bihar for the state election starting next week, said without prompt action, "many, many more" would have died of the coronavirus and there would have been "unimaginable mayhem".
Crediting the Nitish Kumar-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) with bringing peace and progress in Bihar, he declared that "those who have a history of making Bihar BIMARU" would not be allowed by people to return to power.
"If Bihar had not acted fast, the pandemic would have killed many, many more. It would have been unimaginable mayhem. But today Bihar, having battled Covid, is now celebrating the festival of democracy," he said at joint rallies with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
Attacking the opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Congress, PM Modi said before the NDA's rule, Bihar had suffered crime and corruption. In a play on the RJD's poll symbol, the PM said Bihar "has no need for the lantern anymore", it has electricity.
"The people who once ruled Bihar are again looking at the developing state with their greedy eyes. But, Bihar must not forget who pushed them backward, that was the time when there was worsening law and order situation and corruption in the state," he said, using the term BIMARU - an acronym combining Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh that resembles "bimar", the Hindi word for "sick".
"Where earlier, all the money meant for the poor went into corruption, this government was able to organize free food for families in the middle of the pandemic," the Prime Minister said, attempting to tackle criticism of the Nitish Kumar government's handling of the virus and migrant crisis.
Without naming Tejashwi Yadav, whose packed rallies are seen to be a reflection of anger against Nitish Kumar's rule, the Prime Minister derided what he called "misconceptions" that some "new force is emerging".
"But Bihar's clarity is admirable. They are never under any confusion or misconception. Surveys make it clear the NDA is returning to power. Some people are trying to spread rumours to suggest that some new power is emerging, but people of Bihar are not going to be fooled," he said.
Switching to the local dialect, PM Modi said the people of Bihar had been always ahead when it came to the country's safety and security. "India's heart is Bihar, India's pride is Bihar, India's culture is Bihar, Bihar is the call for independence, the call for 'sampoorna kranti' (complete revolution) is Bihar, Atmanirbhar Bharat's flagship is Bihar," he said in Bhojpuri.
He referred to the Galwan Valley clash with China and the Pulwama terror attack last year.
"Sons of Bihar lost their lives in Galwan Valley and ensured Bharat Mata's head is held high. Jawans of Bihar were also martyred in the Pulwama attack. I bow to them," he said.
The Prime Minister began his campaign in Bihar by paying tribute to Ram Vilas Paswan and Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, two senior politicians of the state who died recently.
Bihar will vote in three phases on October 28, November 3 and 7 for a new government and the results will be announced on November 10.
Because of the virus, the Special Protection Group (SPG), which guards PM Modi, limited the crowds at the PM's events.