Nitish rues ‘uninformed criticisms’, highlights feats in final I-Day speech before polls
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Saturday expressed distress over “uninformed criticisms” faced by his government and stressed on the need to apprise people of the abysmal condition the state was in before he took over so that they had a better idea of his accomplishments. Addressing the Independence Day celebrations at the historic Gandhi Maidan, for the last time before he seeks re- election for the fourth consecutive term, Kumar spoke at length about the strides made by his government, besides unveiling populist measures like new vacancies for teachers and extending the EPF facility to those already in service.
“It has become a fashion these days to tweet anything while sitting at home, without having any idea of what has been achieved,” he said towards the end of his speech, which lasted well beyond an hour. His outbursts came in the backdrop of a sustained social media campaign, especially over his government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and the social and economic crises that have arisen in its wake.
Those who have been training their guns at the current dispensation in the state include rivals like RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, aides-turned-adversaries like Prashant Kishor and disgruntled alliance partners like LJP chief Chirag Paswan. “The people, especially our younger generation need to know how things were like 15 years ago. I keep telling this to our officials also. Roads used to be barely visible amid endless potholes.
Power supply was in a mess. We changed all that,” the chief minister said. He had assumed power in the state in 2005, shifting base to Patna from New Delhi where he had a long stint as a parliamentarian and served as a cabinet minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government. In his speech, Kumar sought to sum up his various accomplishments, including acclaimed schemes for school girls, the controversial but gumptious decision to completely ban sale and consumption of alcohol, environment conservation drives and efforts to preserve and showcase the state’s rich cultural heritage.
He also sought to reach out to ‘niyojit’ (hired on contract but regularised thereafter) teachers, whose number is huge in the state, where the earlier system of their recruitment through the public service commission was scrapped long back, resulting in a loss of parity in terms of pay and other perks compared with their older counterparts. “All the teachers at schools run by panchayats and municipal bodies will get the benefit of Employees’ Provident Fund. A decision has been taken and notification will come out soon.
“Besides, we have decided to set up schools at panchayat levels and to run these, we are going to hire more than 39,000 teachers,” the CM said. The announcement is expected to be received with some cheers, crucial in an election year, by thousands of young men and women who have cleared their Teacher Eligibility Test (TET) but left haplessly waiting for getting a share in the job market.
Before commencing his marathon speech, the 69-year-old chief minister unfurled the tricolour and inspected the ceremonious parades taken out on the occasion. Celebrations were subdued this year with fewer people allowed entry to ensure social distancing in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The attendees and dignitaries were also seen wearing face masks. Earlier, Kumar unfurled the national flag at his official residence – 1, Anney Marg.