Citing Liquor Ban, Women-centric Schemes in Poll Speeches, Nitish Kumar Draws Big Cheer from Bihar Women
Nitish Kumar keeps his poll speeches simple to reach out to women as he describes the special attention given to women during his tenure as chief minister of Bihar.
File photo of Bihar CM and JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar. (PTI)
By emphasising on women-centric issues at length in his election speeches, Nitish Kumar is making sure that not only are his oratory skills on full display, they also strike a good chord with his target audience: the women of Bihar.
He steps up the heat by exhorting initiatives his government has taken to benefit women and relate them with the social reforms that has been denied to Bihar for long.
Kumar keeps his speeches simple to reach out to women at large with wit and humour as he describes the attention given to women during his tenure as compared to the "misrule" of Lalu Yadav and Rabri Devi.
The hallmark of Kumar’s public meetings is high number of womenfolk turning out in scorching heat and raising slogans in his support. In both his meetings in Bouchha in Muzaffarpur and Gurhaul in Vaishali, Kumar was seen striking a chord with female voters as two-third of his speech focused on women’s empowerment.
The Bihar chief minister killed two birds with a single stone when he explained his government’s achievement for women that was so “illusionary” during the tenure of Lalu-Rabri. While mocking his opponents, Kumar also applauded his efforts in banning the liquor.
Kumar has been reiterating his decision of liquor ban in the state by quoting a WHO report that says it kills more than 13 per cent of the population in the world aged between 20 and 39.
Kumar begins his speeches by illustrating the good work executed by Modi government to improve the infrastructure in Bihar and doesn’t forget to mention the allocation of 50,000 crore by the Centre.
After dwelling upon the Ayushman Bharat scheme, he explains how crores of women facing intense smoke during cooking are now enjoying the LPG gas connection under the Ujjawala Yojna scheme. Amidst massive cheer from the womenfolk, Kumar then explains the utility of toilets in the life of women and society at large.
Bhagwatiya Devi was so overwhelmed by one such speech by Kumar in Bochha that she started sloganeering in his support. “Nitish tum mat ghabrana tere piche hai naya jamana (Nitish, you mustn’t worry, the new era is with you,)” she declared. “Nitish tum aage Badho hum tumhare saath hai (Nitish move forward, we are with you),” she added.
Scorching sun is not a dampener for women here as they make sure not to miss any public addresses by Kumar. As soon as the rattling sound of Kumar’s helicopter, surrounded by a volley of dust, fill the air, the women flock to the designated meeting areas.
“I am a Nitish Kumar supporter and hence supporting NDA in the ongoing elections,” said Sarita Devi from Gundaul in Vaishali constituency.
Sensing the jubilant mood of the crowd, Kumar lists out how 50 per cent reservation for women in panchayat and municipality elections has changed the course of politics at the grass-root level. “Bihar became the first state to legislate the law on the issue of reservation for women at panchayat and municipality elections,” he declares in Bochha, Muzaffarpur.
Jeevika scheme, Kanya Uththan Yojna and increase in funds for sanitary napkins are part of his speech in almost every public gathering.
While explaining the Jeevika, a rural poverty alleviation scheme being run by the state government, Kumar explains the loan his government took in 2006 from the World Bank to make women self-reliant in the society. He explains how 8.5 lakh self-help groups, who have given a new ray of hope to several families, are seen functional on the ground.
He also explains his endeavour towards increasing the number of girls going to school from one lakh 70 thousand to 9 lakh. Talking about ‘Kanya Uththan Yojna’, aimed at bringing gender equality in the region, he says, “Pehle beti paida hote hi log Nirash hote the…ab hamari sakaar ne use khushi me tabdil karne ke liye yojna chala di kyunki samaaj ka uththan beti ke uththan ke bagair sambhav nahi hai. (Earlier, the families felt dejected at the birth of a girl child. But our government has turned that disappointment into happiness by introducing ‘Kanya Uththan Yojna’)” he says
Under this scheme, there is a provision of getting Rs 2,000 after the birth of a girl child and another thousand rupees if her name is attached to the Adhaar card.
Making another witty remark to strike a chord with the locals in Buchha, Kumar said: “Pehle matdan phir jalpan (vote first, eat breakfast later.)”
He added, “Parivar me Jo log aapke hisab se matdan nahi Karen unhe aap upwas kara dijiyega. (If members of your family do not vote as per your wish, make them fast for a day.)”
Bochha MLA Baby Kumari said, “Nitish Kumar has done lot for women by empowering them with reservation, Jeevika and other schemes. That’s why he enjoys a great rapport among them.”
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