Amit Shah made it clear that the BJP will contest the Bihar election — due in October-November — under the leadership of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar

New Delhi, June 7:

Union minister Amit Shah today launched the BJP campaign for Bihar online, with a detailed recap of the Narendra Modi government’s performance over the last six years — from surgical strikes to the Ram temple in Ayodhya. He, however, claimed that the virtual address — made necessary by the constraints of the coronavirus and the resulting lockdown — had “nothing to do Bihar polls”.

“This is to encourage everyone and assure corona warriors. Those who want to see politics in this – I want to ask – who stopped you from holding a rally? All you are doing is chilling out sitting in Delhi,” he said in remarks directed at the Congress.

The former BJP chief, however, made it clear that the BJP will contest the election — due in October-November — under the leadership of ally Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and reminded the people that “When PM Modi came with his jholi (bag) asking for votes, you have filled his jholi and given him a majority mandate”.

The bulk of Mr Shah’s message was directed at the migrant workers. Both the Centre and the Nitish Kumar government have come under harsh criticism over the plight of the migrant workers, the biggest chunk of whom are from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

“Leaders are trying to hoodwink the janta (people) of Bihar. But you should distance yourself from these talks, especially migrant workers. Remember, the whole country appreciates you. When you look at the foundations of the developed states, you will find the mehek (flavour) of Bihar in their foundations,” Mr Shah said.

Highlighting the government’s measures for the migrants, Mr Shah said, “Almost 1.25 crore people were taken home by PM Modi. People were walking, when we found about it, we ran buses to take them to the stations and ran trains. We arranged, food, medical help, buses for the migrant workers”.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said all migrants be put in camps in the states, he said. “He asked states to ensure food for them. Then he began trains for the migrant workers”. The government, he said, even bore 85 per cent of the cost of the train journey.

The opposition has been vocal about the trauma of the migrants, who after finding themselves out of a job, shelter and food overnight had to hit the road, undertaking journeys of hundreds of kilometers on foot to reach the villages. 

More than a month after the lockdown — announced first on March 25 — the Centre started the train service on May 1.

In Bihar, the BJP and allies BJP and Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party feel that the image of the Chief Minister, who was earlier dubbed “Sushashan Babu” (Mr Good Governance), has taken a beating over the migrants issue.

Despite spending Rs 8,500 crore under various schemes, controversial decisions like stopping the special trains in March and refusing to pay for the migrants’ train journey has generated a lot of anger among the voters, the parties feel.