Lalu says the whole affair is a drama; RJD, BJP supporters stage demonstrations in Patna

The Janata Dal (United)-Bharatiya Janata Party rift took yet another turn on Sunday with Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi of the BJP pulling out of functions to be addressed by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar as part of the ‘Vishwas Yatra', ostensibly to protest the return of the Kosi flood relief money to Gujarat.

While Mr. Kumar went ahead with his scheduled programme at Paliganj in the morning, he cancelled his evening programme to be held in the BJP stronghold Patna.

However, The Hindu has learnt from State BJP sources and senior JD(U) leaders that Mr. Modi did not make a statement of any kind, even as he pulled out of the programme.

“He [S.K. Modi] has not said anything or made any statement. It [cancellation of the event] is an inevitable fallout of the controversy that has been set in motion by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi,” said JD(U) spokesman Shivanand Tiwari.

Meanwhile, Rashtriya Janata Dal and BJP supporters held demonstrations in the city protesting against Mr. Nitish Kumar's decision and burnt his effigies.

Mr. Tiwari said it was interesting to note that both the BJP and RJD chief Lalu Prasad were vehemently criticising Mr. Kumar's move.

Mr. Prasad had earlier lashed out at Mr. Kumar branding the whole affair as a “drama” and stating that “the move was a blot on the Chief Minister's secular credentials.”

“He [Nitish] should give an account of the relief money given to Bihar by other State governments. He should sever ties with the BJP immediately if he really was that concerned,” said Mr. Prasad.

State BJP president C.P. Thakur endorsed Mr. Sushil Kumar Modi's action stating that the latter was following the party line on the matter.

“It is a tactical move by the party,” said a senior BJP leader. The party's top brass has stated in Delhi that it will discuss the developments in Bihar on Monday.

“Nitish can't wash off sin by returning money”

PTI reports:

In Ranchi, Union Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal said that after running the JD(U)-BJP coalition government for four years, Mr. Kumar could not wash off the sins of joining the “communal forces” by returning the flood relief money to Gujarat.

“If he has realised the folly of joining hands with communal forces, he should have snapped ties immediately ... But after heading the government for four years and then returning Rs. 5 crore will not wash off the sin [of joining communal forces],” Mr. Jaiswal said at a press conference.

To a query whether Mr. Kumar returning the money to the Narendra Modi government had hurt the federal system of the country, Mr. Jaiswal said the question did not arise at all.

“If any Chief Minister gets close to a party and then wants to distance himself on the ground of it being communal, this is not the way to keep a distance after four years of rule.

“If he [Mr. Kumar] realises that he should not have made the alliance, and if it was a mistake then he should have broken the alliance. But returning Rs. 5 crore is not repentance,” said the Union Minister.