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.
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.
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.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi with Grand Alliance's chief ministerial face Tejashwi Yadav at a public meeting in Hisua in Bihar's Nawada district. (Source: Bihar Youth Congress/Twitter)
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.