Nitish has insulted people of the State, says Congress

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar returning the “unutilised flood relief aid” of Rs. 5 crore given by the Gujarat government has evoked strong reaction from the government and the Opposition here.

While Cabinet spokesman and Health Minister Jaynarayan Vyas described Mr. Kumar's decision as “unfortunate,” Congress leader Ahmed Patel said he had “insulted the people of Gujarat” and should not have indulged in such political gimmicks.

Mr. Patel was equally critical of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, whose “hunger for publicity” provided his Bihar counterpart the opportunity to “insult” the people of the State. He said the money sent to Bihar was “not from the pocket of Mr. Modi” but was from the people's exchequer. “What was the need for returning the money sent by the people if you are unhappy with the Chief Minister?” Mr. Vyas said the amount was a small “humanitarian gesture” of the State government to the victims of the 2008 Kosi floods and given with a sense of brotherhood.

Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Shaktisinh Gohil and Pradesh Congress Committee president Sidhhartha Patel blamed Mr. Modi for acting against the culture of Gujarat.

“It is the culture of Gujarat that the humanitarian aid given by one hand is not known to the other. What was the need for Mr. Modi to tom-tom the aid given to Bihar,” asked Mr. Gohil.

Meanwhile, an official spokesman of the government confirmed the return of the money by Bihar. He said a cheque with a covering letter written by Chanchal Kumar, Secretary in the Bihar Chief Minister's Secretariat, dated June 12, was received here.

The letter said the money was “lying in the Bihar CM's relief fund unutilised as it could not be utilised during the Kosi flood calamity. Hence the amount is being returned.”

The spokesman, giving details of the “humanitarian aid,” said the Gujarat government, the people, and the State unit of the BJP were happy that they could come to the aid of the flood-hit people of Bihar in the time of dire need.

Apart from the cash assistance, the government had rushed 63 officials and teams equipped with the latest rescue and relief gadgets and materials. It had also sent 36 doctors, 56 paramedics, 80 fire brigade personnel, 15 EMRI-fitted ambulances as mobile hospitals and six medical teams, who worked in Bihar for months together.

Besides, two special trains comprising 80 wagons and carrying relief materials worth more than Rs. 20 crore were sent.