Ignoring looming drought in Bihar, politicians fight for ‘pride’ and ‘change’

Patna, Aug 14 (IANS) A drought-like situation in Bihar is a serious issue for millions of farmers, but not for the politicians, including the main contenders in the electoral stakes — Janata Dal-United (JDU), Rashtriya Janada Dal (RJD), Congress, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance(NDA).

For them a ‘swabhiman’ (self-respect) and ‘parivartan’ (change) are more important slogans than poor rainfall. That farmers are suffering from a 31 percent deficient monsoons, leading to a drought-like situation in the state, has had no impoact on the political discourse.

Ahead of state assembly polls in October-November, political leaders and their supporters have not shown any sympathy for the plight of the poorest of poor farmers even as the political temperature starts heating up.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the star campaigner of NDA, addressed two public meetings in Muzaffarpur on July 25 and Gaya on August 9 but he did not mention anything on the near-drought situation in Bihar. His main plank was urging people to bring about a change in the state by questioning the “political DNA” of chief minister Nitish Kumar.

Neither BJP president Amit Shah, who launched ‘parivartan raths’ nor the several union ministers, including those from Bihar, who launched parivartan yatra from four places expressed their concerns on the farmers’ woes.

The allies of BJP like Lok Janshakti Party, Rashtriya Lok Samta Party or the Hindustan Awami Morcha have also been silent on the issue.

Nitish Kumar and his new ally RJD chief Lalu Prasad, have raised the decibel on pride of bihar by vehemently objecting to Modi’s remark on DNA of Nitish Kumar as being an “insult to Bihar.”

Nitish Kumar’s JD-U has launched a shabd-wapsi (take back your word) campaign to collect signatures and samples of 50 lakh people in Bihar to send them to Modi for a DNA test as a protest.

Lalu has been showing more concern for caste census data to be made public.

In a ritualistic way, the state government has announced an increase in diesel subsidy for farmers directing the energy department to provide six to eight hours of uninterrupted power in rural areas.

A K. Sen, an official with the meteorological department in Patna said the situation in the state was “alarming” due to a deficient rainfall.”At present,overall rainfall deficit in Bihar is 31 percent. But the situation is alarming in 26 of 38 districts of the state where the deficit is more than 50 percent, Sen told IANS.

According to officials records,nearly two-thirds of Bihar’s population of 10.5 crore are dependent on agriculture for their livelihood. Nearly two-thirds of agricultural activities in the state are dependent on rain.

“Poor rainfall till date has affected paddy sowing and plantation, triggering fears of another drought,” an official of the state disaster management department, who did not want to be named, said.

Reports received here say that unlike in the past, there is no water for irrigation in the canals. A large part of central Bihar is irrigated by water from the Sone river through canals.

Even the water table in parts of central and south Bihar has gone down to alarming levels due to a poor monsoon.

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