RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav on Monday announced that his party workers will beat drums in every nook and corner of Bihar in a bid to put pressure on Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to step out of his residence and take first-hand stock of the "worrisome" COVID-19 situation in the state.
Yadav, the leader of the opposition in the state assembly, said at a press conference that his party would beat 'dhol' (cylindrical two-headed wooden drums) on June 24, when Kumar "would earn the dubious distinction of having remained at home for 100 days (during pandemic)".
With assembly elections in Bihar only months away, the main opposition party seems to be building a case against the ruling dispensation by criticising its response to the coronavirus outbreak and migrant workers issue.
Former chief minister Rabri Devi and the RJD rank and file had clanged utensils on June 7 at the instance of Yadav against Union Home Minister Amit Shah's virtual rally which kicked off the BJP's election campaign in the state.
Lalu Prasad, RJD's jailed founding president, had also hit out at Kumar last week.
"This chief minister has run away, leaving his people in the lurch in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. In the coming elections, take this 'deserter' to task," Prasad had tweeted.
Tejashwi, who stayed in Delhi during the initial period of the lockdown, returned to his home state around mid-May and since then has sharpened attack on the chief minister.
"The ruling dispensation seems obviously more interested in elections than tackling the coronavirus crisis which is staring us in the face. Till the previous day, only 1.30 lakh samples had been tested in the state. By the government's own admission, about four lakh people were found symptomatic in course of its much publicised door-to-door screening drive," he said.
"This is indicative of the state's woeful failure to test all those who were symptomatic. What can I say about more extensive measures like random testing?" he rued.
Yadav, the RJD's chief ministerial candidate, also alleged that the testing ratio in Bihar was "lowest in the country" and the government's efforts to tackle the pandemic were "only on paper".
"The chief minister cannot get a true picture unless he chooses to step out. It has been nearly three months since he came out of 1, Anney Marg. We intend to beat drums to jolt him out of his slumber," he asserted.
The RJD leader, however, ducked queries as to whether he was in favour of deferring the assembly polls in contrast with the ruling JD(U)-BJP combine which has started preparing for the state polls.
"That is for the Election Commission (EC) to decide. The EC should seek the opinions of all parties before taking a final call. We would be glad to share our views with the poll panel," he added.
Yadav was, however, miffed when reminded of Amit Shah's mocking reference to the "taali bajao" (clang utensils) program.
"We are going to beat drums for the life and dignity of the poor. They (the ruling NDA) had dubbed them criminals and anti-socials," he quipped, referring to a circular issued by the police headquarters whereby districts had been alerted about possible law and order problem in the wake of heavy influx of jobless' migrants. The circular was later withdrawn.