The JD(U) sounded its poll bugle from Rajgir with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar launching a frontal attack on AICC president Sonia Gandhi and his principal opponent RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav. While he dared Gandhi to a debate on Central assistance given to the state during his tenure,he advised Lalu to stop dreaming about becoming the CM again.
Speaking at the concluding session of his partys two-day chintan shivir,Nitish said: I came to know that Soniaji has said that Bihar has progressed because of big Central assistance. Now that election is round the corner,I want people to know the truth for once and all. Nitish dared Sonia to a debate and show figures on Central fund given to the state. Bihar,like other states,gets its share of tax collected by the Central government as per Finance Commission recommendations and funds under plan heads as per old formula of Gross Budgetary Support, he said,adding that the claims regarding roads being constructed with Central funds are false. Rather,the state fund is being spent to repair the national highways. The Centre has to reimburse us Rs 1,000 crore spent on national highway repairs, he said,adding that he can name 40 welfare schemes carried out exclusively by the state government. If the Congress can wax eloquent about MNREGA,we have numerous achievements to boast about, Nitish told more than 5,000 party functionaries.
He wondered why Prime Minister Manmohan Singh never bothered to visit Bihar even once (except during 2008 Kosi floods) if the UPA was so concerned about the state. The Centre gave relief packages for Tsunami,Bengal cyclone and Mumbai rains but did not respond to Kosi rehabilitation package demand,said Nitish.
Nitish also took on his chief political opponent Lalu. Just as he reaped harvest of my good work at Union Railway Ministry,he now eyes the CMs post after I have done all the hard work. From dreaming of becoming the PM not too long ago,Lalu is on a reverse gear now.
He told party workers that caste arithmetic of his opponents would not work this time amidst a new surge of Bihari identity.
The CM,however,had to face some dissenting voices for giving undue importance of turncoats from the RJD. Rajya Sabha MP Upendra Kushwaha,who recently came back to JD(U),raised the matter. Nitish downplayed it: I waited for 11 years to get my due,your turn will come, he said,adding,Just imagine how JD(U) will be if I am not in the scene. I am working day in and day out to build the party,but some people are interested in personal gains. As for taking RJD people in the party,it is important. It is called psychology of politics.
Nitish,who had arrived at the venue on a tonga,left the scene asking party workers to enjoy the good food laid out for them.