Monday November 19, 2018
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Pulse prices: New headache for BJP in Bihar

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Patna: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies have a new headache in Bihar: rising prices of ‘dal’.

With prices of pulses shooting up across the country, the anti-BJP alliance is having a field day blaming Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his central government.

And many voters in Bihar, in the midst of staggered assembly elections, seem to be in agreement.

“We voted for Modi (in the 2014 Lok Sabha election) as he promised to check price rise,” said Ganesh Rai, who runs a construction business near Chitkohra here.

“But he has failed to check the prices of food items. Dal is selling at Rs.200 a kilo. Who can afford it?”

It is an issue that affects not just the poor but the more vocal middle class too.

With hardly a week to go for the third round of the Bihar elections, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and RJD leader Lalu Prasad are going hammer and tongs against the BJP.

Janata Dal-United (JD-U) and RJD activists say they are playing the “dal card” against the BJP-led alliance in what is expected to be a tough contest for the 243-member Bihar assembly.

Sensing trouble, the BJP and LJP leader Ram Vilas Paswan — who is also the agriculture minister in the Modi government — and others in their camp on Tuesday began damage control by blaming the Bihar government for the state of affairs.

Paswan has been downplaying the issue of rising prices. At the same time, he has promised to provide cheaper dal if the BJP-led alliance wins in Bihar.

JD-U and RJD supporters gleefully recall the time when the zooming prices of onions caused electoral setbacks to the BJP in Rajasthan and Delhi in 1998.

Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar thunder at every election meeting that dal prices are shooting up because of the Modi government’s policies.

Lalu Prasad says this is how the poor have been deprived of pulses. “Modi has taken away the ‘dal’ in the poor man’s dal-roti.”

Nitish Kumar has hit back at Paswan after he blamed him for the rising dal prices in Bihar.

“If I am to blame, why is dal selling at Rs.200 a kilo in BJP-ruled states including Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan?” the JD-U leader keeps asking.

(Imran Khan, IANS)

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India Begins Its Election Season With Five States

The BJP has sent top leaders to campaign in Chhattisgarh.

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India, elections
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India began on Monday the first of five state elections to be held in coming weeks, important tests for Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he plots a course that he hopes will ensure him victory in a general election due by May.

Voters in the central state of Chhattisgarh went to the polls on Monday to elect representatives for 18 of the state assembly’s 90 seats in a staggered poll complicated by logistical problems and left-wing guerrillas.

The state of about 26 million people has been ruled by Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) since 2003, and he will be hoping to hold on to power.

India, elections
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“Some unholy people have handed guns to children who should have pens in their hands,” Modi told a rally in the state on Friday, referring to the rag-tag guerrillas battling government forces from forest hideouts. “They’ve finished the lives of our tribal children.”

Hundreds of election workers had to be flown in to remote polling stations by helicopter because of the danger posed by the rebels.

Modi called for voters to back his BJP and its vision of “development for all.”

The final phase of voting in Chhattisgarh, which is known for its coal, iron ore and bauxite reserves, will be on Nov. 20.

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The BJP was the preference of about 43 percent of voters in Chhattisgarh, 7 percentage points ahead of the main opposition Congress party, according to a survey released last week by the Lokniti-Centre for the Study of Developing Societies.

Modi’s other big tests will be in the neighboring central state of Madhya Pradesh, where the BJP is slightly ahead of Congress, according to polls, and in the northwestern state of Rajasthan, where Congress is expected to emerge victorious.

A good performance by the BJP in the elections would help it deflect growing criticism over unemployment and a crisis in the countryside over falling farm prices and wages.

India, elections
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Elections will also be held for assemblies in Telangana in the south and Mizoram in the northeast.

The BJP has sent top leaders to campaign in Chhattisgarh, including Yogi Adityanath, a firebrand Hindu priest and the BJP chief minister in Uttar Pradesh state.

Also Read: PM Narendra Modi Announces Easier Access to Credit

Adityanath has been appealing to the BJP’s Hindu-nationalist base and on Sunday accused the opposition of blocking construction of a temple for Hindu god Ram on a disputed site in Uttar Pradesh.

The destruction of a mosque on the site by a Hindu mob in 1992 sparked deadly riots across the country. (VOA)