“The NDA Government abrogated Article 370, and the opposition parties say they will bring it back if they come to power. After making such statements, they dare to ask for votes from Bihar? Is this not an insult of Bihar and the state which sends its sons and daughters to the borders to protect the country?” — Prime Minister Narendra Modi
The Bharatiya Janata Party released its manifesto for the assembly polls in Bihar on october 22, 2020, with the first promise in it, is the free distribution of vaccine against COVID-19 once it is approved by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who released the manifesto in Patna said, “As soon as COVID-19 vaccine is available for production on a mass scale, every person in Bihar will get free vaccination. This is the first promise mentioned in our poll manifesto.”
The announcement led to a storm of criticism of the BJP, by an intellectually and morally bankrupt opposition. Senior BJP leader and Rajya Sabha MP, the very erudite and savvy, Bhupendra Yadav, who understands Bihar better than most, clarified in a sharp rebuttal on Twitter, while responding to Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, by tweeting: “Your attempt to twist Smt Nirmala Sitharaman’s statement reeks of desperation. All parties issue manifestos. Vaccines will be made available to all Indians at nominal costs. States can make it free. In Bihar, we will”.
Health being a State subject, the Bihar BJP has decided to give it free. Hence, there is nothing wrong with what the BJP has promised. Interestingly, after opposing the BJP’s move, the Congress announced free COVID vaccine, in Puducherry, showcasing its blatant hypocrisy and duplicity.
The manifesto states: “Atmanirbhar Bihar Ka Roadmap 2020-25. Lakshya (objective) – Atmanirbhar Bihar. 5 Sutra – development of villages, cities, industries, education and agriculture.” In its ‘Sankalp Patra’, the BJP has promised 19 lakh jobs for the youth of the state and also expressed its commitment to turn Bihar into an information technology hub, given India’s I.T. industry, which is worth over USD 177 billion. Particular emphasis would be given to the information technology sector, as well as to the establishment of 13 food processing parks.
Under the New Education Policy (NEP), engineering and other technical education will be made available in hindi in the state, which will be a massive help to those more comfortable in Hindi and not very fluent in English. A minimum support price regime will be put in place for pulses too in the state, to help farmers.
While looking at hard numbers, what stands out is the fact that at over Rs 7 lakh crore, Bihar’s GDP has grown from just 3.19%, fifteen years back, under the aegis of the RJD, to a solid 11.3% now, under the BJP-JD(U) alliance, with an average growth of over 10% consistently, in the last three years. Bihar’s GDP has registered higher growth than the national average in the previous three years. The per capita Gross State Domestic Product of Bihar was Rs 47,541 at current prices and Rs 33,629 at constant prices. The main growth drivers of the economy in Bihar, which registered double-digit growth and contributed towards real growth of the overall economy of Bihar during 2018-19, are air transport (36%), other services (20%), trade and repair services (17.6%), road transport (14.0%), and of course, financial services (13.8%).
The fiscal deficit of Bihar was 2.68% of GSDP, revenue surplus 1.34% of GSDP, and the outstanding public debt liability of the State government was 32.34% of GSDP during the year 2018-19. What the fiscal numbers indicate is that the BJP-JD(U) combine has managed the State finances very consummately, without borrowing recklessly and engaging in high leverage, which many opposition ruled states are guilty of leverage is not necessarily a bad thing, but only as long as it is used for capital expenditure and not revenue expenditure.
Bihar’s GDP has grown from just 3.19%, fifteen years back, under the aegis of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), to a solid 11.3% now, under the BJP-JD(U) combine, with an average growth of over 10% consistently, in the last three years. Bihar’s GDP has registered higher growth than the national average in the previous three years
The total revenue receipt of Bihar in 2018-19 was Rs 1,31,793 crore, and capital receipt was Rs 20,494 crore. The revenue expenditure and the total expenditures were Rs 1,24,897 crore and Rs 1,54,655 crore respectively. The revenue receipt increased by 12.2% whereas the revenue expenditure increased by 21.7%, but overall, the revenue surplus was a healthy Rs 6,896 crore.
Agriculture and allied activities which is the mainstay of Bihar’s economy, contributing to 23% of the GSDP, have done tremendously well, in the last five years. The annual growth rate of operational agro-based factories in Bihar was 16.4 % over the last ten years, higher than the national average. It needs to be noted here that agri-growth under an inept and corrupt RJD, in the pre-2005 era, was barely 2.5%. The significant employment generating industries for working males in the State of Bihar during 2017-18 were agriculture, forestry and fishing (44.6%), construction (17.1%), wholesale and retail trade, repair of vehicles (12.3%) and manufacturing (9.3 %). For female workers, agriculture, forestry, fishing and education, have been the significant employment generating industries.
Under the “Jungle Raaj” of RJD’s Lalu Prasad Yadav, before 2005, just 22% of Bihar had access to electricity, but today that number is 100%. Similarly, access to pucca roads has gone up from 34% fifteen years back, to as high as 96%, today. This is the most significant payback of PM Modi’s “Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas and Sabka Vishwaas”, the initiative has touched the lives of every common Bihari, thereby redefining the concept of inclusivity. The BJP-JD (U) alliance’s flagship programme of “Jal-Jivan-Hariyali” to tackle issues related to climate change and environmental degradation has worked wonderfully well. Bihar has also improved its budgetary allocation and operational efficiency through CFMS (Comprehensive Financial Management System) since 2019, which aims at increasing transparency by making all financial activities online and paperless.
According to publicly available data on Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP), the growth rate of Bihar’s economy in 2018-19 was 10.53% (at constant prices) and 15.01% (at current prices). The GSDP of Bihar at current prices was Rs 5,57,490 crore at everyday prices and Rs 3,94,350 crore at constant (2011-12) prices in 2018-19. The resulting Per Capita GSDP of Bihar was Rs 47,541 at current prices and Rs. 33,629 at constant prices. Share of various sectors in the GSVA is as follows–(a) Primary Sector at 21.3%,(b) Secondary Sector at 19.7% and Tertiary Sector at 59%. The three relatively most prosperous districts based on Petrol consumption per thousand persons are Patna, Muzaffarpur and Gopalganj. The three most prosperous districts in terms of per capita small savings are Patna, Saran and Buxar.
The fiscal deficit at 2.68% of GSDP is one of the biggest positives, showcasing how Bihar, under the BJP-JD(U) combine, has never indulged in wasteful fiscal profligacy.
The share of Bihar in the total shareable resource pool of the centre has increased from 9.67% to 10.06%, for the year 2020-21, yet again endorsing the fact that Prime Minister Modi’s growth-oriented policies are responsible for Bihar moving away from the infamous Bimaru tag that the then RJD dispensation bestowed it with, to a State that is set to outperform.
In a significant development in 2018-19, Bihar made it mandatory for all the departments to make all their purchases through the GeM Portal.
In 2018-19, the share of social services expenditure in total expenditure increased by a good 200 basis points. The spending on three principal heads of the social services was Rs. 28,080 crores (Education, Sports, Art and Culture), Rs. 7318 crore (Health and Family Welfare) and Rs. 15,638 crore (Water Supply, Sanitation, Housing and Urban Development).
The contribution of agricultural and allied sectors to Bihar’s GSVA was 21% in 2017-18 and the share of the crop sector in the Gross State Value Added (GSVA), was 12.1%. Cropping intensity was 144% in 2017-18. The Modi government even conferred the “Krishi Karman Award” to the State in January 2020, for its achievements in production and productivity of Maise and Wheat. Livestock and aquaculture together contributed about 7.1% of GSVA in the agriculture sector in Bihar during 2018-19.
The BJP-JD (U) has been providing a subsidy of 90% on drip irrigation and 75% on sprinkler irrigation, thereby making farming cost-effective, lucrative and less dependent on monsoons.
The worker population ratio (WPR) for male workers in rural Bihar was 64%. Again,55.9% of males were self-employed in 2017-18. Interestingly, 75% of the total migration took place due to marriage in the last few years, compared to 46% at the all-India level in 2011, under a thoroughly incompetent Congress-led, UPA regime. Only 2.9% of the total migration from Bihar took place due to work/employment and business, which busts the fake plan that people from Bihar under the BJP-JD(U) alliance, have been migrating due to lack of employment opportunities.
The projected peak demand for electricity in Bihar was 5300 MW in 2018-19. The peak demand met, reaching 5139 MW during 2018-19. The power capacity availability in the state was 3889 MW in 2018 and increased to 4767 MW in 2019. The total generation capacity of power as of March 2019 for the state was 4767 MW.
Out of this, 82% was from coal-based thermal power, 11% from hydropower and the balance 7% from renewable energy sources. The power capacity availability in the state was 3889 MW in 2018, which increased to 4767 MW in 2019 and to meet the increased demand for power. The State government has also planned for an additional capacity of 5335 MW from different sources, in a phased manner by 2021-22.
The fiscal numbers indicate is that the BJP-JD(U) combine has managed the state finances very consummately, without borrowing recklessly and engaging in high leverage, which many opposition ruled states are guilty of leverage is not necessarily a bad thing, but only as long as it is used for capital expenditure and not revenue expenditure
The rate of urbanisation has been low compared to the all-India level. At one extreme, the rate of urbanisation was as high as 43.1% in Patna and, on another; it was only 3.5% in Banka. Patna Metro Rail Project, with a total cost of Rs 13,366 crore, was sanctioned, over a year back. In this regard, the State Government has already constituted Patna Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. (PMRCL) to construct 31.39 km of the metro to cover East-West and North-South corridors.
Between 2011-12 and 2018-19, the level of Per Capita Development Expenditure (PCDE) in Bihar has grown at 14.2%, compared to the national average of 13.3%. The expenditure on education in the state increased at an annual rate of 13.8%, which is higher than that of the all-India average of 12.8%. The spending on health also registered an annual growth rate of 20.8%, higher than the all-India average. The life expectancy at birth in Bihar in 2013-17 was 69.2 and 68.6 years for males and females, respectively. There was an increase of 14.8 percentage points in the literacy rate of Bihar, which has improved significantly from 47.0%, under a corrupt RJD regime in 2001, to 61.8% in 2011.
No discussion on Bihar is complete without elaborating on the ‘Jungle Raaj’ of the erstwhile RJD regime and the disgraced RJD honcho, Lalu Prasad Yadav, who was convicted and sent to prison, in the IRCTC scam. The CBI charge sheet included charges pertaining to criminal conspiracy (120-B), cheating (420) and other relevant sections of the IPC. It is reported that the tender process was rigged and manipulated, and the conditions were tweaked to help the private party (Sujata Hotels). The charge sheet also reveals that Vinay Kochhar, in February 2005, sold commercial property in the form of three acres of land in Patna through 10 sale deeds for Rs 1.47 crore to Delight Marketing, in which Sarla Gupta, was a director, as a front or a Benami holder, on behalf of Lalu Prasad.
Between 2010 and 2014, this land was further transferred, to help Lalu. In 2001, it was decided to hand over the management of catering services of Indian Railways, including its hotels, to the IRCTC. Two such hotels — BNR hotels in Ranchi and Puri — were also identified and an MoU was signed between the Railways and the IRCTC in March 2004.
The IRCTC scam which was limited it just to Lalu but extended to a vast network of RJD members and close associates of Lalu, showcasing political greed, avarice and corruption at its worst
According to the FIR flown by the CBI, Lalu Prasad Yadav, the then Railways minister, entered into a criminal conspiracy with the owner of Sujata hotels, Sarla Gupta, the wife of his close associate Prem Chand Gupta, then an RJD MP in the Rajya Sabha, and IRCTC officials for ‘undue pecuniary advantage to himself and others’. The probe agencies later found that BNR hotels were transferred to Sujata Hotels through a rigged and manipulated tender process managed by P.K. Goel, the then-MD of IRCTC. As a result, Sujata Hotels remained the only bidder in financial evaluation and was qualified, the CBI said, adding after the tender was awarded to Sujata Hotels, the ownership of Delight marketing also changed hands from Sarla Gupta to Rabri Devi and then to Tejashwi Yadav, between 2010 and 2014.
The IRCTC scam was limited to Lalu but extended to a vast network of RJD members and close associates of Lalu, showcasing political greed, avarice and corruption at its worst. For this reason alone, it is unlikely that the politically conscious electorate of Bihar will ever vote back the RJD to power, given its dubious record, infighting between Lalu’s sons, a clueless Tejashwi Yadav who has no political acumen and is the bearer of the poor legacy of his father, who was indicted for corruption at the highest level and is serving a jail term. How can a party (RJD) deliver crime-free, good governance, when it’s patriarch is behind bars after being indicted by the law of the land?
Coming back to the development plan of the BJP-JD(U) alliance, there is a lot of ground that has been covered in the last five years. Several parts of Bihar were cut off from each other due to a number of rivers flowing across the state, and four years ago, construction of two bridges started in Patna and Munger to solve this problem. Now due to the commissioning of these two rail bridges, the travel between northern and the southern parts of the state has eased considerably. As much as 90% of the rail network in Bihar has been electrified over the last six years, and more than 3,000 kilometres of railways have been electrified. While about 325 km of new rail lines were commissioned in Bihar between 2009 and 2014, about 700 km of new rail lines were commissioned in the state in the first five years of the National Democratic Alliance-led government taking over.
Work on a dedicated freight corridor (DFC) is going at a faster pace, and about 250 km length of the corridor would fall in Bihar. After the completion of this project, the delay in passenger trains and goods’ trains will also be reduced. PM Modi also launched initiatives related to animal husbandry and fisheries in Bihar, including Rs 20,050 crore under the Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY) and the e-Gopala mobile app, last month.
Of the 41 big river bridges in the state, 25 have been constructed during the NDA’s 15-year rule while 16 were built between 1947 and 2005. Only 16 major river bridges were built over rivers such as the Ganga, Gandak, Kosi, Sone, Bagmati and the Phalgu in the 1947-2005 period.
The NDA Government has given priority to the poor in the time of coronavirus. At a place where the poor’s ration was looted inside the shops, BJP at centre delivered ration to their homes. Where the money meant for the poor went into corruption, this government was able to organise free food for families in the middle of the pandemic
The NDA has worked at a feverish pitch for the welfare of Bihar, transforming it from a ‘Bimaru’ to a ‘vibrant’ State.
Drawing a comparison between the work done under NDA’s 15-year rule (2005-2020) and the RJD which was in the seat of power for 15 years till 2005, it is clear that RJD is no match for the superior performance showcased by the NDA. For instance, while the length of middle lanes in Bihar was 1,705 km till 2005, it has been increased to 5,654 km during NDA rule.
It needs to be mentioned here that under RJD, Bihar was a den of Maoist led Naxalism. However, the ‘Jungle Raaj’ of fifteen years ago, has now given way to a Bihar that is aspirational, hungry for growth and is self-reliant in many vital areas, with the law and order machinery functioning pretty seamlessly, thanks to a disciplined leadership in the last five years, which has effectively married growth with equity and social inclusivity.
The NDA government has given priority to the poor in the time of coronavirus. At a place where the poor’s ration was looted inside the shops, delivered ration to their homes. Where the money meant for the poor went into corruption, this government was able to organise free food for families in the middle of the pandemic.”–This quote by Prime Minister Modi, on October 23, 2020, at an election rally in Bihar, sums up the mood of the electorate. While undoubtedly, every life is precious and counts, Bihar stands tall, in terms of Covid management. At about 1000 deaths, from a population of a little over 10 crore people, that translates into a ratio of barely 0.001%. The promised free Covid vaccine to Bihar, will further help the cause of “Jaan aur Jahaan” and give wings to the state in it’s commendable, development outreach.
(The writer is an Economist, National Spokesperson of the BJP and Bestselling Author of ‘Truth & Dare–The Modi Dynamic’)