Eye on polls, JD-U plans Urdu billboards

Apparently seeking to further consolidate the ruling JD(U)’s Muslim support base in Bihar well before the Lok Sabha polls, the Nitish Kumar government is set to use Urdu in hoardings to publicise its welfare schemes and successes in the Muslim-majority areas.

In a state that has the proud distinction of being the first after Jammu and Kashmir to accord Urdu the status of a second official state language and has more than two crore Urdu speakers, the government’s move has drawn sharp criticism from the Opposition BJP, RJD and LJP.
The Opposition parties have accused the JD(U) government of both “playing minority politics” and using “deceptive tricks” when the LS polls are closing in.
But the government, which is currently in the process of appointing nearly 27,000 Urdu teachers in Bihar’s schools, says hoardings in Urdu will allow the minorities to better understand the ongoing welfare schemes and government policies concerning their lives.
Sources said the state public relations department has already issued instructions to its regional centres to set up hoardings in Urdu near madrasas and in areas where Muslims form a majority. Many of Bihar’s northern border districts, with their higher concentration of Mulsims, are likely to have hoardings in Urdu.
With 16.5 per cent of Bihar’s population being Muslims, the state is home to the highest number of Muslims in India after Uttar Pradesh.
Significantly, the Muslim-Urdu link in Bihar is the strongest in India second to Jammu and Kashmir, according to experts.
“The JD(U) government can go to any extent to lure Muslim voters, but the people ultimately see through these deceptive tricks used when polls are close,” said BJP’s state president Mangal Pandey.

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