Whatever had to happen happened last Saturday itself: Chief Minister
The Nitish Kumar government has returned Rs. 5 crore given by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi to Bihar as aid for Kosi flood victims. Authorities in Gujarat on Saturday confirmed the refund. Thus, yet another chink in the Janata Dal (United)-BJP alliance in Bihar became visible.
Mr. Kumar, however, refused to comment on the issue or on the future of the alliance. “Whatever had to happen happened last Saturday [June 12] itself. So, why are you ruining this Saturday, he said replying to a question by journalists here.
The controversy erupted last week during the BJP's national executive meeting here with local papers being splashed with advertisements lauding the Gujarat government's contribution to the Kosi flood victims.
The move evoked sharp criticism from Mr. Kumar, who termed Gujarat's claim on flood relief “uncivilised” and against Indian culture.
“The hullabaloo is being made on the side of the Gujarat government. The money was sent back the same day or the day after. It is only now that the electronic medium is raising hell,” JD(U) spokesperson Shivanand Tiwari told The Hindu.
Mr. Kumar has been assiduously attempting to distance himself from Mr. Modi to avoid charges of being complicit in a communal partnership (with the BJP) in the State. “Why create an unnecessary controversy by bringing Narendra Modi to Bihar this crucial election year,” asked Mr. Tiwari. The BJP was “deliberately intent on bullying its ally.”
He said the JD(U) had vociferously objected to Mr. Modi campaigning in Bihar during the 2005 Assembly elections as well. “When you know that the campaigning in Bihar will be led by Mr. Nitish Kumar, why was he not consulted before the BJP executive meet was held?”
Claiming that the BJP could not hope to win the Bihar Assembly elections all by itself, Mr. Tiwari said the JD(U), after the Akali Dal and the Shiv Sena, was its most trusted ally.
Senior JD(U) leaders told The Hindu that top-ranking leaders in the Bihar BJP unit too were unhappy with their high command holding the party rally in Patna during this crucial election year.
BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad, however, said: “The relationship between the BJP and the JD(U) in Bihar is based on mutual trust, amity, respect and a commitment towards the development of the State” as it had been plagued by the maladministration of the RJD government, he said.