BJP unable to digest Bihar’s development: Nitish

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi visited Bihar on Saturday to meet the families of the victims of the bomb attack on his rally, sparking off a war of words between alliance-partners-turned-adversaries, the Janata Dal (United) and the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Police from Gujarat were deployed to guard Mr. Modi, whose supporters allege the Bihar government ignored intelligence warnings of an impeding jihadist attack on the rally.

Mr. Modi, who arrived in Patna on Friday night, visited the homes of four of the six victims — Raj Narayan Singh in Gaurichak, Patna; Vikas Kumar Singh in Kaimur, Bindeshwari Chowdhury in Begusarai and Rajesh Kumar in Nalanda. He gave a cheque for Rs. 5 lakh to each of the families.

He could not visit the families of Munna Srivastav in Gopalganj and Bharat Rajak in Supaul owing to fog cover. However, he spoke to the family members on the phone.

“The blasts have claimed innocent lives. I have come to share their pain and console them. I had proposed this visit to senior BJP leaders in the State. I wanted to reach everyone, but could not visit two families,” Mr. Modi told reporters at the Patna airport ahead of his departure.

He praised the “unprecedented courage” of the people of Bihar in the face of the blasts.

“A million thanks and a big salute to the people of Bihar for showing exemplary courage. In public life, we have seen rallies, even of a few thousand people, getting disturbed even by the slightest rumour. But here when bombs were going off from all sides, the people stayed firm. International researchers should study such a phenomenon,” he said.

He gave his wishes the people on the occasion of Diwali and Chhath puja.

Taking a dig at Mr. Modi, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said: “On the occasion of Dhanteras, the people of Bihar buy new brooms. With the broom, we must sweep away all the outside trash and keep our houses clean.”

Attacking the BJP, he said, “There were some who spoke of Bihar’s development earlier. Now, they are unable to digest Bihar’s development. They find the grass on the other side greener. But you and I are Bihari and we will work for this Bihar.”

“Unbecoming of Modi”

Slamming Mr. Modi’s visit as “politics over dead bodies,” JD(U) leader Shyam Rajak compared Mr. Modi’s visit to “the way tourists come to Bihar.”

“It did not behove a Chief Minister to show such arrogance on his visit to another State. The remarks of the BJP and their attempt at disturbing peace are a degraded level of politics,” Mr. Rajak told The Hindu.

Refuting the JD(U)’s accusations of politics being played over blast victims, Mangal Pandey, BJP State president, told The Hindu that the visit was a “humanitarian gesture.”

“What is wrong with meeting and consoling families of the deceased? It is the JD(U) which is trying to spoil the climate in Bihar with their remarks,” he said.

Politicking over ashes

The BJP’s decision to hold a yatra to immerse the ashes of the six victims into the Ganga could prove to be yet another source of political brick-batting.

The party’s Asthi Kalash (pitcher of ashes) yatra began four days after the blast, on October 31. The ashes of the victims, whom the BJP described as “martyrs”, are being carried from their home districts. The yatra will reach Patna on November 5, when the ashes will be immersed in the Ganga.

“The aim of this yatra is to strengthen the sentiment of the six martyrs when they came to the the Hunkar rally — they would struggle against corruption, inflation, for border security and a strong Prime Minister. That is the main sentiment behind this yatra. The event will also be an appeal for peace and harmony,” Mr. Pandey told The Hindu.

The JD(U), however, dismissed the yatra as yet another political gimmick.

“They are going to make several such attempts at disturbing the peace in Bihar. Let them play their politics, but people will not benefit from this type of politics,” party leader Shyam Rajak said.