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Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Ahead of polls amid pandemic, PM to announce projects worth 16,000 crore

Sources said that over the next 10 days, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate multiple projects meant to improve infrastructure and ease of living for the people of Bihar.

Written by Liz Mathew | New Delhi | Updated: September 12, 2020 7:31:42 am
Ahead of polls amid pandemic, PM to announce projects worth 16,000 croreBJP president J P Nadda with party’s Bihar elections in-charge Devendra Fadnavis, state BJP chief Sanjay Jaiswal and senior BJP leader Bhupender Yadav at a party meet in Patna Friday. (PTI)

Ahead of the Bihar Assembly elections, expected to be held in October-November amid a pandemic, recession and growing unemployment, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch a series of development projects for the state, sources said.

In the coming days, the Prime Minister, who would be the BJP’s star campaigner in Bihar, is likely to announce projects worth Rs 16,000 crore for the state.

Sources said that over the next 10 days, Prime Minister Modi will inaugurate multiple projects meant to improve infrastructure and ease of living for the people of Bihar.

These projects, the sources said, are linked to various sectors like LPG pipeline, LPG bottling plant, sewage treatment plan under Namami Gange, water supply schemes and riverfront development. The Prime Minister may also announce new railway lines and electrification of various sectors as well as construction of new highways and bridges. “These projects that cost more than Rs 16,000 crore could leverage public expenditure to act as a major driver of growth in times of the pandemic,” a source said.

The Prime Minister is expected to inaugurate on Sunday several projects, including the Durgapur-Banka section of Paradip –Haldia-Durgapur LPG pipeline — eastern India’s first LPG pipeline — an LPG bottling plant in Banka and a new LPG plant at Sugauli.

While the pandemic would change the character of the election campaign and limit the number of public meetings by political parties, the BJP will see to it that outreach programmes are not affected, party sources said.

The Prime Minister is expected to interact with voters in Bihar in multiple events over the coming 10 days, sources added.

“In this election, one main theme will be the NDA government’s push for infrastructure development in the state and the launching of new projects would certainly spur growth and generate jobs, giving hopes to the people,” said a BJP leader.

For BJP, the election in Bihar, where it faced a defeat in 2015, is significant, not just to get a fresh endorsement to Prime Minister Modi’s leadership during the pandemic and economic crisis, but also for its own growth in the state from being a junior partner to the JD (U) to the leading party.

Incidentally, Prime Minister Modi had announced an economic package worth Rs 1.25 lakh crore for the state ahead of the 2015 Assembly polls. Despite the announcement, the NDA could manage only 53 seats in the election which the JD(U) contested in an alliance with RJD after walking out of the NDA. The JD (U) won 71 seats and the RJD won 80 seats in the election. However, in 2017, the JD (U) returned to the NDA fold.

Meanwhile, the BJP and JD (U) are gearing up. Although the JD (U) has been the bigger partner in terms of seat-sharing, the BJP this time is learnt to have sought an equal number of seats to contest for the 243-member Assembly.

The initial proposal, sources said, is that both parties could contest 110 seats each, leaving 23 for smaller allies like LJP and Hindustani Awam Morcha. However, the Chirag Paswan-led LJP is seeking at least 36 seats — a demand the BJP has not agreed to yet. Senior BJP leaders said a final decision on seat-sharing is yet to be taken by the leadership.

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