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Bihar Elections: War on to attract Muslim votes

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Patna: Political parties in Bihar are trying to outdo each other to woo minority votes ahead of the assembly polls in the state due later this year.

With differences within the NDA not yet settled, senior JD(U) leader and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has taken up on himself to woo the Muslims.

Kumar had last week at Pasmanda Muslim Adhikar Sammelan spoke of affirmative steps, including educational infrastructure, taken by the NDA government for Muslims in the state.

Kumar said his government had restored powers of the state Madarsa Board to grant recognition to over 2,000 madarsas in the state to make them eligible for grants and other benefits.

Targeting the votes of Pasmanda Muslims, comprising nearly 50 per cent of the population of the minority community in the state, Kumar said the UPA government was creating impediment to the state government's plans for the welfare of Muslims.

The non-implementation of the RS Sachchar and Rangnath Mishra committees' reports were a reflection of the Centre's designs to deny Muslims their due rights, he alleged.

Kumar was praised by Muslim leaders at the function for returning Rs five crore to Gujarat for relief work in the Kosi region following the advertisement controversy.

The chief minister's bid to cosy up with the minority community did not go down well with his political adversaries, the RJD and the Congress, which questioned his secular credentials for his and his party's long association with the BJP at the national level and in Bihar.

RJD leaders Ram Kripal Yadav and Shakeel Ahmed Khan lashed out at Kumar claiming that his secular image was a facade.

The RJD leaders also held Kumar responsible for the sale of the Regional Handloom Cooperative union's building at Biharsharif at an auction recently in lieu of the accumulated dues of Rs 3.70 lakh rendering 50 lakh weavers of 11 districts jobless.

If the state government was at all serious to cater to the needs of the weavers, it could have paid the due from its own coffers and adjusted it against their arrears, the RJD leaders said.

The Congress too did not remain far behind in taking on the chief minister and raked up the advertisement showing him with his Gujarat counterpart Narendra Modi to buttress its point.

Not to be left far behind, the BJP too would like to endear itself to the minority community by holding a political programme exclusively for the Muslims, the state unit party President CP Thakur had announced last week.


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