Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) president Upendra Kushwaha on Thursday refused to leave the venue of his fast-unto-death at Patna’s Miller School ground even as the state government revoked his permission on Wednesday. He has been on a protest since November 26 demanding land from the state government for the construction of two new Kendriya Vidyalayas (KVs) in the state. The party, a constituent of the Grand Alliance, had been allotted the venue till November 29.
Meanwhile, senior BJP leader and former Union minister Sanjay Paswan visited Kushwaha on Thursday and gave his support to the protest, saying “there must not be politics over cause of education”.
“His demand is justified. The Bihar government should transfer land and new two schools should come up,” Paswan said.
The two new schools were sanctioned during Kushwaha’s tenure as Union minister of state for Human Resources Department.
On Wednesday, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar refused the RLSP’s demand, saying the state “would not give land and that the Centre should purchase it.”
During an informal conversation with journalists, Kumar said, “Our policy is to open a high school in every panchayat. We have not been in favour of KVs as a very few children of the poor and marginalised would study there.”
The state government had laid out a precondition for land transfer to the Centre that in the two new schools, a minimum of 50 percent enrollment would be that of local students. According to a letter dated June 29, 2017 by then additional commissioner (administration), Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan, G K Srivastava, to the Education Secretary of Bihar, “…while Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan cannot give an undertaking of admitting minimum 50 per cent and maximum 75 per cent locals, it is worth mentioning that enrollment of Bihar students in existing Kendriya Vidyalayas is 62.07 per cent.”
Claiming that the CM has initially given his support for the two new schools, RLSP state president (campaign) Jitendra Nath told The Indian Express on Thursday: “We are shocked at the volte-face of Nitish Kumar, who is perhaps afraid of our leader getting political mileage if the two KVs come up. But we do not think on those lines. In fact, the CM had assured full support during Kushwaha’s meeting with the CM in 2018…”
Nath also added out of 28 KVs running from permanent buildings in Bihar, the state government had given land for 25 schools. Overall, there are 48 KVs in the state.
He added that in 2018, the enrollment in KVs in the state stood at 49,099, of which, 45,729 students were from Bihar. He added that the Centre’s figure of 62.07 per cent locals had not included wards of former soldiers.