In the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic and the enforced social distancing and crowd norms, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar addressed a virtual rally on Monday kicking off the Janata Dal (United)’s first outreach for the Bihar Assembly Elections 2020 due to be held later this year. The term of the 243-member House ends on November 29 this year.
The rally had been planned for September 6 but got postponed due to the week-long national mourning declared following the death of former President Pranab Mukherjee.
In the virtual rally which started at 11.30 pm, Nitish Kumar listed his government’s achievements over the last 15 years. He compared them with the 15-year regime of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) regime that preceded him and dismissed the RJD governments as the pati-patni government when RJD chief Laloo Prasad and his wife Rabri Devi ruled the state.
Under fire over the state’s Covid-19 response, Nitish Kumar highlighted the recovery rate which he said was 88.24%. He appealed to the people to take necessary precautions. He claimed testing rates were as high as 1.5 lakh tests per day with 11,350 RT-PCR tests everyday, which is going to be increased to 20,000 soon.
The rally was held on the party’s newly-launched virtual platform jdulive.com. Kumar spoke for almost two-and-a-half hours, reports said. With National Democratic Alliance (NDA) ally the BJP already starting its campaign virtually in June with a rally addressed by Home Minister Amit Shah, both the NDA major parties have gotten into campaign mode.
The party had put up giant screens in public places across the state for voters to listen to the speech. The Opposition RJD-Congress alliance is yet to decide on seat sharing much like the NDA, which has several in-house problems waiting to be addressed. With Left parties keen to join the RJD-Congress alliance, the NDA has been beset by the Lok Janshakti Party’s dissatisfaction with Nitish Kumar for not giving the party more seats in the alliance. It is expected, observers say, that the BJP will placate Ram Vilas Paswan’s party by forgoing some of its seats.
The Opposition has alleged that the BJP is riding the Sushant Singh Rajput death case in Mumbai with an eye on the polls, since the topic can win popular support vis-a-vis son of the soil sentiment. The NDA has reasons to be comfortably placed after former CM Jitan Ram Manjhi returned to the fold after swallowing the bitterness of yesteryear.