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Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Bihar Election 2020: Free vaccine promise in Bihar poll perfectly in order, says Nirmala Sitharaman

Bihar Assembly Election 2020: Sitharaman had released BJP's manifesto for the Bihar polls earlier this week. A highlight of the promises made in the document was free Covid-19 vaccines for the state's people if the saffron party comes back to power.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi, Patna | Updated: October 25, 2020 11:48:35 am
Bihar elections results will be announced on November 10

Bihar Assembly Election: Amid the opposition’s criticism of the BJP’s Bihar poll promise of free Covid vaccines, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman asserted on Saturday that the announcement was perfectly in order and a party can announce what it wants to do when it comes to power.

Sitharaman had released BJP’s manifesto for the Bihar polls earlier this week. A highlight of the promises made in the document was free Covid-19 vaccines for the state’s people if the saffron party comes back to power.

Earlier today, the Rashtriya Janata Party(RJD) released its manifesto for the upcoming assembly Bihar elections on Tuesday. Party leader Tejashwi Yadav has 13 public rallies — one in Bhagalpur, three in Banka, four in Jamui, three in Munger and one each in Shekhpura and Patna. On the other hand, BJP national president JP Nadda is also scheduled to hold two rallies in Biharsharif and Lakhisarai.

Apart from Nadda, other BJP leaders including Smriti Irani, Manoj Tiwari, Nityanand Rai, Sanjay Jaiswal, Ashwini Choubey and Mukesh Sahni are scheduled to address the public at different locations in the poll-bound state. Meanwhile, Bihar deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi is admitted to AIIMS, Patna after he was diagnosed with Covid-19.

Voting for 243 assembly seats in the state will be held on October 28, November 3 and November 7 and results will be announced on November 10.

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Bihar assembly elections: Voting for 243 assembly seats in the state will be held on October 28, November 3 and November 7 and results will be announced on November 10.

21:49 (IST)24 Oct 2020
Janata Dal Rashtrawadi party candidate succumbs to injuries after being shot at

Janata Dal Rashtrawadi party candidate for Bihar Elections, Narayan Singh - who was shot at in Hathsar village of Sheohar district - succumbs to his injuries. Two of his attackers arrested and admitted to hospital after they were injured.

21:04 (IST)24 Oct 2020
Smriti Irani enters electoral battleground in Bihar; invokes Durga, Laxmi

In a stinging attack on the opposition RJD in poll-bound Bihar, Union minister Smriti Irani on Saturday asserted that "riches acquired through the fodder scam" will find no takers among the self-respecting people of the state.

The firebrand BJP leader, who addressed her first couple of rallies in the state, also invoked the imagery of Laxmi, the goddess of wealth, and remarked that people knew "she comes carrying the lotus and not the lantern", an obvious allusion to the poll symbols of BJP and the RJD respectively.

"When the self-respecting people of Bihar pray to Goddess Bhagwati, they seek the strength to earn their bread through hard work. They do not seek a share in wealth earned through chaara ghotala", said Irani, in an apparent reference to RJD supremo Lalu Prasad who is in Ranchi, serving sentences in fodder scam cases.

Prasad's younger son and heir apparent Tejashwi Yadav, who has been named by the opposition Grand Alliance as its Chief Ministerial candidate, has been trying to woo the voters with his promise of 10 lakh permanent government jobs if the party came to power.

20:17 (IST)24 Oct 2020
BJP's free vaccine Bihar sop injustice to others: NCP's Malik

Maharashtra minister and senior NCP leader Nawab Malik on Saturday hit out at the BJP for promising free coronavirus vaccine to the people of poll-bound Bihar, adding that such an announcement during a nationwide outbreak is injustice to other citizens.

The state minority development minister, speaking at a press conference in Aurangabad, added that "in Maharashtra, our government will provide the vaccine for free".

Malik said the coronavirus-induced lockdown which led to loss of lives and jobs could have been avoided if the Centre had immediately "sealed borders after the WHO alerted about the virus on December 31 (2019)".

He said the working of the Waqf Board will be made online and a tendering process for this will be completed in the next six months.

20:17 (IST)24 Oct 2020
BJP's free vaccine Bihar sop injustice to others: NCP's Malik

Maharashtra minister and senior NCP leader Nawab Malik on Saturday hit out at the BJP for promising free coronavirus vaccine to the people of poll-bound Bihar, adding that such an announcement during a nationwide outbreak is injustice to other citizens.

The state minority development minister, speaking at a press conference in Aurangabad, added that "in Maharashtra, our government will provide the vaccine for free".

Malik said the coronavirus-induced lockdown which led to loss of lives and jobs could have been avoided if the Centre had immediately "sealed borders after the WHO alerted about the virus on December 31 (2019)".

He said the working of the Waqf Board will be made online and a tendering process for this will be completed in the next six months.

18:20 (IST)24 Oct 2020
Nitish refrains from speaking anything against Chirag or LJP

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Saturday addressed a poll rally in LJP founder Ram Vilas Paswan's native Alauli assembly seat but refrained from speaking anything either against the party or its president Chirag Paswan who has been attacking him regularly.

After dissociating his party from the ruling NDA in Bihar, Chirag has been hitting out at the chief minister almost on a daily basis in his election meetings as well as in the social media, but Kumar has chosen not to react to him.

Kumar maintained the same approach and avoided making any reference either about Chirag or his party at his rally in
Alauli during the day. Alauli reserved seat includes Paswan's birth place Saharbbani village in the Khagaria district.

16:53 (IST)24 Oct 2020
Why women loyalists of CM Nitish Kumar are turning away

Over 15 years and three electoral victories, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has counted on women voters, who have stood by him for his schemes, including cycles for girl students, the expansion of women self-help groups under the Jeevika programme, reservation of 50% of seats for women at the panchayat level, and of course, the prohibition law, introduced in April 2016.

Come 2020, this support is showing signs of fracture, under the blows of a parallel alcohol economy and the economic distress left by the lockdown. Click here to know more. 

15:45 (IST)24 Oct 2020
Free vaccine promise in Bihar poll perfectly in order: Nirmala Sitharaman

Amid the opposition's criticism of the BJP's Bihar poll promise of free Covid vaccines, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman asserted on Saturday that the announcement was perfectly in order and a party can announce what it wants to do when it comes to power.

Sitharaman had released BJP's manifesto for the Bihar polls earlier this week. A highlight of the promises made in the document was free Covid-19 vaccines for the state's people if the saffron party comes back to power.

Manifesto 'Promise No. 1': BJP injects free Covid vaccine in Bihar  elections | Elections News,The Indian Express

14:40 (IST)24 Oct 2020
Devendra Fadnavis tests positive for Covid-19

Former Maharashtra chief minister and BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis, who is the party's in-charge of Bihar elections, Saturday said in a tweet that he has tested positive for Covid-19.

13:26 (IST)24 Oct 2020
RJD poll manifesto promises 10 lakh jobs, equal pay for equal work
RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav releases party manifesto on Saturday. (ANI)

The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) promised to build a “new Bihar” by bringing in overall development in the party manifesto that it released for the Bihar assembly elections in Patna on Saturday. “Our party’s resolution is to bring overall development to the state and create a new stunning Bihar,” RJD leader said. 

Titled as ‘Hamara Pran (Our resolution), the 16-page manifesto focuses on issues like employment, women empowerment, agro-industry, education, smart village, Panchayati Rajm poverty, community development and healthcare services.

“This is not a manifesto, it is our pledge to bring a change which is set to become true. Every sector has been taken into consideration while preparing this so that we can make Bihar a happy, better and prosperous state. In our manifesto, Lalu ji and Rabri Ji’s message has also been given to the people of Bihar,” Tejashwi said.

13:13 (IST)24 Oct 2020
Watch | Nitish Kumar addresses rally in Khagaria
11:59 (IST)24 Oct 2020
Bihar citizens turning into bootleggers: Paswan takes dig at Nitish government

Upping the ante against the state government over liquor prohibition, LJP leader Chirag Paswan said: "In the name of liquor ban, the citizens of Bihar are being turned into bootleggers. The mothers and daughters of Bihar don't want to see their children turn into smugglers. Besides the CM, everyone knows how several people are going in the direction of liquor smuggling but everyone has turned silent."

11:52 (IST)24 Oct 2020
'This is real pluralism': Pushpam Priya Choudhary shares video on Twitter

Taking to Twitter, CM candidate of The Plurals Party, Pushpam Priya Choudhary said: "My professors in London and my associates were doubtful if the people will be able to pronounce 'plurals', understanding it might perhaps be a distant dream. Now this is real pluralism, that folk singers have breathed life in a typical foreign word!"

11:51 (IST)24 Oct 2020
Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel to campaign in Bihar today

Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel will hold two rallies and one road-show in Bihar today. Here is the schedule:

11:27 (IST)24 Oct 2020
There is a difference between earning and employment: Tejashwi Yadav

Tejashwi Yadav said, “People used to make fun that from where we will generate employments. Now, you must understand there is a difference between earning and employment. Here we are talking about government jobs,” Tejashwi Yadav said. He also said that there are employment opportunities for teachers, professors, junior engineers, doctors, nurses lab technicians.

11:26 (IST)24 Oct 2020
10 lakh jobs, equal pay for equal work; more: RJD release manifesto

RJD manifesto includes Tejashwi Yadav's promise of 10 lakh jobs and equal pay for equal work among other things. “I am promising 10 lakh jobs. I could have also promised one crore jobs just for the sake of promise. But I am not doing that because this will become a reality in the first meeting of the Cabinet. This will be the first time in the country that 10 lakh employment opportunities will be created at one go. This figure is what we require in the state’s workforce at present,” Tejashwi said.

11:23 (IST)24 Oct 2020
108 tribal villages to boycott Bihar polls over ‘police crackdown’

The residents of 108 villages in Bihar’s Kaimur plateau have announced that they will boycott the forthcoming Assembly polls to protest an alleged police crackdown on the area’s tribal population last month. The police action came when the tribals were protesting, among other issues, the declaration of the area as a tiger reserve.

The protests were led by Kaimur Mukti Morcha (KMM), which alleged that 25 activists from the area were arrested on false charges. The villagers accused the Forest Department of forceful evictions and bulldozing of crops, despite a Supreme Court stay on evictions.

KMM has demanded that the government declare Kaimur a scheduled area. The creation of a tiger reserve in the region must be done only after consent by the gram sabhas and approval of the tribal population, it has said.

11:06 (IST)24 Oct 2020
Once Nitish bastion, women ask tough questions: govt distanced from poor
Dina, Mamta, An ita and Rekha at their Dalit basti in Phulwari Sharif. (Dipankar Ghose)

“Look,” she says angrily. Mamta Devi’s right arm is outstretched, her fingers balled into a fist. Just above the two bangles on her wrist are two bruises — left by her drunk husband as she came between him and their two young children. “Show these wounds to anyone who claims there is prohibition in Bihar,” says the 32-year-old.

Over 15 years and three electoral victories, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has counted on women voters, who have stood by him for his schemes, including cycles for girl students, the expansion of women self-help groups under the Jeevika programme, reservation of 50% of seats for women at the panchayat level, and of course, the prohibition law, introduced in April 2016.

Come 2020, this support is showing signs of fracture, under the blows of a parallel alcohol economy and the economic distress left by the lockdown.

10:53 (IST)24 Oct 2020
'Miss you Papa': Chirag Paswan shares video on Twitter

LJP leader Chirag Paswan shared a video of him paying tributes to his father and former Union minister, Ram Vilas Paswan, who passed away earlier this month.

10:52 (IST)24 Oct 2020
Tejashwi challenges Nitish to name one police station where there are no bribes

In an open challenge to Nitish Kumar on Saturday, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav asked the Chief Minister to name any one police station where cases are probed without involving bribes. Taking to Twitter, he said: “This is a straight and an open challenge. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar should name at least one police station where work is done without involving bribes. If you think am wrong, then you are free to ask the public during your rallies. You will get the answer.

10:34 (IST)24 Oct 2020
Who is JD[U]-BJP fooling, asks Tejashwi Yadav

While addressing the media, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav said: "The BJP has named Nitish Kumar as its CM candidate. But Nitish has washed his hands off, saying he won't be able to provide 10 lakh jobs. So how can the BJP give? Who are they fooling?"

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Bihar Assembly Elections 2020 LIVE updates

In his first rally for the Bihar Assembly elections on Friday, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi focused on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government’s policies. However, there is a concerted effort by the Congress this time to ensure the election in Bihar remains about local issues. A large team of leaders from the high command is stationed in Patna micromanaging the campaign and coordinating with allies RJD and the Left parties from behind the scenes — but that’s almost the extent of the Delhi connect.

Congress sources said the local leaders are not even keen on too many names from outside barring Rahul Gandhi and the party’s chief ministers coming for campaigning, to ensure that the focus is not diverted from local issues. There is a clear instruction to leaders specifically to not raise divisive issues or react to controversial or emotive topics thrown up by the BJP.

Meanwhile, over the past four Assembly elections in Bihar, women voters have seen a steady rise. In 2015, they overtook their male counterparts by a huge margin, with 60.48% of them turning out to vote compared to 53.32% men. The turnout among women in 2015 was the highest in Bihar going as far back as 1962. In terms of overall numbers though, the total men voters (1.9 crore) was slightly more than women (1.89 crore) in 2015. The overall voter turnout that year was 56.66%.

Since Jharkhand was carved out in 2000, Bihar has seen Assembly elections in February and October in 2005, 2010 and 2015. In February 2005, an analysis of election data shows, the share of women who voted stood at 42.51% (1.04 crore in all) — showing that in the next 10 years, there was a jump of nearly 20%. In comparison, 49.94% of the men (1.40 crore) turned out to vote in February 2005, with the needle moving barely 4% for them till 2015. The overall voter turnout in February 2005 was 46.5%.

On Thursday, the BJP promised “residents of Bihar” free vaccination against Covid-19 in its Bihar assembly election manifesto released Thursday, drawing sharp reactions from Opposition parties, most of which said it was “appalling” that a vaccine to fight the pandemic was made being a poll agenda.

Defending its announcement, the BJP said it’s a pledge on a public health issue. Releasing the party manifesto in Patna, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said: “After crossing all the stages, there are at least three vaccines that have reached the last stage, and are on the cusp of production. After this, if scientific people say this vaccine is fine, production can take place. Our production capacity, because of the government’s intervention, is very large.”

The promise triggered a political row with the RJD, Congress and other Opposition parties slamming the party, accusing it of politicising the pandemic and playing on the fears of the people.