Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar addresses an election rally at Raghopur in Vaishali district recently. The BJP has released a video clip showing Nitish Kumar visiting a ‘tantrik’ and has accused him of promoting superstitions.
Hundreds of trees have been cut down, chopped off and uprooted to make space for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s election rally in Madhepura district in Bihar on November 1, officials said yesterday.
“In a bid to arrange space for holding Modi’s election rally, hundreds of trees, many of them fruit-bearing, were cut down, chopped off and uprooted in the new campus of the B P Mandal University,” a district official, who did not wish to be named, said.
This was first reported by Madhepura-based news portal Madhepuratimes. Its editor Rudra Narain Yadav said nearly 400 to 500 trees were cut down and over 1,000 two-year-old plants of several species, including fruit-bearing ones, were uprooted and chopped off for the rally.
Madhepura District Magistrate Mohamed Sohail has refused to comment.
Green activist Ranjeev, who is working in the flood-prone Kosi region that comprises the Madhepura and Saharsa districts, said it was unfortunate that hundreds of trees were cut down for the sake of an election rally.
“This message is clear, green trees were sacrificed for holding a rally of Modi, who has little concern for environmental issues in the country,” Ranjeev said in Saharsa, about 250km from Patna.
Local residents say they are helpless. “We can only protest and express our anger,” Sanjeev Kumar, a youth said.
An official of the university, B N Viveka, said the institution gave permission to hold the rally, not to cut trees.
BJP district president Anil Kumar Yadav in his written submission to the district administration has promised that any damage incurred before and after the rally would be paid for by the party.
Yadav also said that new saplings would be planted after the rally.
Bihar is trying to increase its green cover. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has said the green cover in Bihar has increased from 9.79% in 2011 to 12.86% in 2015 due to measures taken by the state government.
He said the aim was to increase it to 15% by 2017.
Forest officials admit that Bihar lost most of its green cover when the state of Jharkhand was carved out of it in 2000.
Undivided Bihar had a forest cover of 17%.
Elections for the 243-member Bihar assembly are taking place in five phases between October 12 and November 5. The counting of votes will be held on November 8.
Meanwhile, BJP president Amit Shah predicted that Nitish Kumar would quit after NDA gets two-third majority.
“The BJP-led NDA is coming to power in Bihar and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar will certainly give his resignation on November 8 when we will get two-third majority,” Shah said while addressing an election rally in Saran district.
He urged the people gathered at a small ground, which was half empty, to give one chance to the NDA to rule Bihar. “You have given chance to every one, give us one chance,” he said.
He also attacked Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav.
“Lalu is only talking about black magic, tantra-mantra, not about development. How can he along with Nitish Kumar develop Bihar?”
Shah also sought to reiterate that the BJP was not against reservation for Dalits and Other Backward Classes (OBCs).
He said Bihar failed to develop and remained backward due to 25 years rule of Lalu-Rabri and Nitish Kumar.
“The BJP can develop Bihar and will ensure to make it number one.”
He said Nitish Kumar and Yadav were trying to derail the development agenda in polls by raising issues unrelated to people. “People have decided this time to vote for a developed Bihar and against underdeveloped Bihar.”
Shah said Yadav both Yadav and Nitish Kumar are misleading people on caste lines for their political gains.
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