NEW DELHI: Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar faces fresh political challenges in his ongoing state-wide review of the government’s development schemes that make success of his ‘seven resolves’ programme critical in the runup to the 2019 general election.
Five months after he propelled his Janata Dal (United) back into the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance after jettisoning the grand alliance with the Rashtriya Janata Dal and Congress, Kumar faces continuous attacks from the RJD while the BJP is in no mood to let him corner the credit for development works in the state.
This makes the success of ‘Nitish Ke Saat Nishchay (Nitish’s seven resolves)’ all the more important for the chief minister, if he has to live up to his image ‘sushasan Babu’ or good administrator and retain his position as Bihar’s foremost political leader at the ground level. Kumar, who launched the third phase of the state-wide review last Thursday, had covered more than 20 districts during the first two phases of the state-wide tour programme. He has been undertaking such tours in each of his tenures as CM for more than a decade.
“The CM receives petitions from people during these visits. These petitions help him get an accurate feedback about the state of administration under his rule,” an official in the state secretariat told ET on condition of anonymity.
The JDU hopes to benefit politically in case the government succeeds in delivering on Kumar’s ‘seven resolves’ programme, by expanding its socio-political base in the state. JDU members said Kumar has empowered the poor, particularly women and extremely backward castes or EBCs, through his government initiatives such as reservation in local bodies and government jobs. In his previous tenure as CM, he had focused on Mahadalits in the state.
“Now it is time for him to emerge as a provider. He is already politically known among his supporters as an enabler,” said a JDU member, who did not wish to be identified.
The JDU member said Kumar’s ‘seven resolves’ programme is aimed at building his new image as a provider of amenities such as clean drinking water, continuous electricity for all, a toilet in every home, unemployment benefits for youths (aged 20-25 years), better access to higher education and empowering women, and lanes and bylanes in rural areas. The party is seeking to highlight the ‘seven resolves’ programme as a unique initiative of the CM. “Manifesto to sabhi jaari karte hain. Hamne ise sarkari dastavez banaya. (Every party releases a manifesto. But our CM Nitishji made his ‘seven resolves’ programme a government document.) He has got government notifications and circulars issued in order to get these schemes implemented,” JDU spokesman Neeraj Kumar told ET.
The success of the programme will not only help Kumar buttress his image but also improve his party’s bargaining power in seat sharing arrangement with the BJP ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.