Loud protests by youths over unemployment greeted Bihar Chief Minister today at a rally in the run up to the October 30 bypoll at Tarapur Assembly segment.
While the Chief Minister accused Opposition parties of engineering the protests, rival Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) criticised him for “losing his mind” when confronted with questions on the job crisis.
Videos from the poll meeting at Tarapur constituency in Jamui district show youths waving placards with messages asking what happened to the NDA’s promise of 19 lakh jobs made ahead of the state polls last year and asking him to quit the Chief Minister post if he cannot provide employment.
As soon as Jitan Ram Manjhi, Hindustani Awam Morcha chief and former Chief Minister, stepped away from the podium and Mr Kumar came up to speak, the group of youths started shouting “Down with Nitish Kumar”. Some of them were also heard raising slogans in support of the RJD’s lantern symbol.
Speaking to the media, some protesters demanded that the 19 lakh job promise be fulfilled and slammed the government for not holding exams for recruitment to state police and Group D jobs.
With the slogans getting louder, senior police officers approached the youths and requested them to stop shouting, but to no avail.
At one point, Mr Kumar asked the police officers not to stop the protesters from raising slogans. “Let them shout, don’t bother. These 15-20 people are jumping and shouting, let them do it,” he said, while urging others in the crowd to “reply” to the slogans.
The Chief Minister further said that the protesters must list their demands and submit to him and he would try his best to address them. “I don’t care who sends whom. I believe in working,” he said, accusing rival parties of sending protesters to the rally venue.
In the visuals from the venue, police officers were seen collecting the pamphlets waved by the youths and state minister Ashok Chaudhary was seen urging them to stop the protests.
Leader of the Opposition in Assembly and RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav hit out at the Chief Minister.
“When unemployed youths demanded 19 lakh jobs, Nitish Kumar lost his mind,” he tweeted.
जब बेरोजगारों ने 19 लाख नौकरियाँ माँगी तो नीतीश कुमार जी आपा खो बैठे!
मुख्यमंत्री आवास से बाहर निकलते नहीं
सड़क मार्ग से यात्रा करते नहीं
जनता से सीधा संवाद है नहीं
जब मजबूरन चुनावी सभा में जाना पड़ता है तब युवा उनसे बेरोजगारी पर सवाल करते है तो कमजोर मुख्यमंत्री भड़क जाते है? pic.twitter.com/l38QAbn6KW
— Tejashwi Yadav (@yadavtejashwi) October 26, 2021
Mr Yadav claimed the Chief Minister does not leave his official residence, does not travel by road and that he has no direct interaction with the public.
“When he has to speak at poll rallies and the youths question him, why does the weak Chief Minister get agitated?”
The bypoll in Tarapur was necessitated after minister and JD(U) MLA Mewa Lal Chaudhary died of Covid earlier this year. The seat is now witnessing a three-pronged contest between the JD(U), the main opposition RJD and the Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas), whose leader Chirag Paswan represents the Jamui Lok Sabha seat where Tarapur falls.