Why did he accept the money in the first place, asks LJP leader

Lok Jan Shakti Party chief Ram Vilas Paswan on Saturday accused Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar of indulging in gimmicks by returning the flood relief money donated by his Gujarat counterpart Narendra Modi after having protected him vis-à-vis the Sabarmati Express fire in Godhra.

Replying to questions by journalists, Mr. Paswan charged that Mr. Kumar, as the then Railway Minister, had protected Mr. Modi by not ordering the statutory enquiry into the cause that led to the burning of the train in Godhra and said now his desperation was to appease the minorities.

The LJP chief pointed out that he (Mr. Paswan) had resigned from the Union government over the Godhra riots but Mr. Kumar had continued in the BJP-led NDA government. “Why didn't he resign from the government if he was so opposed to Mr. Modi's deeds and why did he not order the statutory enquiry and instead protected him,” asked Mr. Paswan.

Mr. Paswan also ridiculed Mr. Kumar's returning the flood aid money alleging that “Mr. Modi was communal during the Godhra riots and even the day he gave the money to Mr. Kumar. Why did Mr. Kumar accept the money in the first place? He is double-faced.”

On Mr. Kumar's threat to sue those responsible for publishing advertisements containing his photographs with Mr. Modi, the LJP chief said Mr. Kumar had to answer only one question whether it was genuine or not. “If it is wrong then I will quit politics. If it is right Mr. Kumar should do so.”

BJP rally

The LJP leader was critical of the manner in which Mr. Kumar denied the BJP leaders a dinner and ruined their rally in Patna. “Far from their swabhiman [pride] rally, it was just an occasion to vent their apman [insult] rally.”

Charging that the NDA was a divided house, Mr. Paswan said he would stick with the Rashtriya Janata Dal and would appeal to the Communist Party of India to come closer, hinting at the possibility of a new secular alliance which might not include the Congress.

To a question, he said “If they [the Congress] want they are welcome. Even in the Rajya Sabha election we did not appeal to their leaders.”

Mr. Paswan said the Congress should have taken a cue from the CPI and supported his candidature for Rajya Sabha membership. He charged that the Congress wasted its votes by not supporting him.

The LJP chief said he would sit in the opposition in the Rajya Sabha and his support to the government would be issue-based.