'Govt's focus is on giving services to those in need', says BJP's Bhupender Yad...

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Home / India News / ‘Govt’s focus is on giving services to those in need’, says BJP’s Bhupender Yadav

Assembly elections in Bihar are due later this year.Bhupender Yadav, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in-charge for the state Bihar, spoke to Smriti Kak Ramachandran about the polls, anti-incumbency, migrant workers, etc. Edited excerpts:

What are the challenges the party is facing apart from its inability to hold rallies amid the pandemic?

After five years, every party has to be ready to face elections. The situation we are facing is a challenge not just for the country but for the entire humankind. The government has dealt with the situation effectively and systematically. There was an implementation of four successful lockdowns and a gradual unlocking.

If unlocking proceeds smoothly, then elections in Bihar will also be conducted. ...digital [technologies]... and social media play a crucial role, but at the same time, personal contact, humanitarian approach, ground-level work, and booth level activity cannot be ignored. All these factors will continue to be important during electioneering.

There is a perception that Bihar’s delayed response to bringing migrant workers home will impact the elections. This will be a challenge in addition to factors such as anti-incumbency...

It is an incorrect perception. During the first three phases of the lockdown, no movement was allowed because preparedness was necessary to fight the pandemic. The government worked with awareness and preparedness. We cannot say there was a delay. Till today, 1,058 trains have carried 2.1 million passengers home. In addition to this, the Bihar government pressed 4,500 buses into service and ran 26 trains for the workers. The response of the railway ministry and the Bihar government has been one of synergy.

Whether it was setting up quarantine centres, providing ration, offering social security through schemes, the government has taken care of the needy. The marginalised sections have seen the impact on the ground of the services provided. And in Bihar, there is proof of development.

The state government is carrying out a skill mapping exercise, which has shown a bulk of returnees are construction workers. How will the government offer jobs to workers will limited skill sets?

The government has doubled the allocation for MNREGS [Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme] and also increased the workdays. There are many challenges. Yet there are roads and power everywhere. Employment avenues will be created in the agricultural sector even though Bihar is already quite ahead in agricultural production. There are state-specific provisions in the Atmanirbhar Bharat package [to deal with the pandemic]...

The opposition feels the government is more focused on holding elections rather than on fighting the pandemic...

It is incorrect to say the government is focusing only on the election. It has focused on offering services to those in need. The demand and supply of ration, for instance, have been met everywhere. Some people think only tweeting is politics. We don’t think so. Those opposing and criticising us were not even present in Bihar during the pandemic. Their criticism does not cut ice with people because they were absent.

Covid-19 has exposed shortcomings in the health infrastructure. Do you think this will become a poll issue in a state?

The government has done a lot of work to ramp up the health infrastructure and even during the lockdown to prevent the spread of the virus, a fund was created. Just as for polio eradication, a door-to-door campaign was conducted, a similar exercise will be carried out for mapping corona cases.

Health workers are also being empowered and offered protection. And all this is being done for everyone and it is not caste-specific. Our party does not subscribe to the politics of caste conflict. We believe in the politics of coordination and cooperation.

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