The frosty relationship between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its ally in Bihar, the Janata Dal-United (JD-U), was visible in the Lok Sabha on Thursday when BJP MP Rajiv Pratap Rudy and JD(U) leader Rajiv Ranjan sparred over the Bihar Government’s utilisation of funds under the Jal Jeevan Mission.
Posing a supplementary question to Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat during the Question Hour, Mr. Rudy asked the Minister why the State government had not utilised funds allocated by the Central government to provide drinking water to every household through taps.
“One the one hand, Niti Ayog says Bihar is among the most backward States — ₹6,600 crore has been allocated. Yet, the Bihar government has not utilised even one rupee,” Mr. Rudy, Lok Sabha member from Bihar’s Saran constituency, said.
Responding to the BJP member, the Minister replied that, so far, Bihar had not utilised any amount from the allocation as the State government claimed to have covered 90% households under an existing scheme of its own to provide drinking water through taps.
“Mr. Rudy raised a question and tried to create confusion. The reality is that since 2015 har ghar nal jal (tap water in every household) project has been going on. While launching the scheme in the 2019 Budget speech, the Finance Minister had referred to the Bihar scheme as well,” Mr. Ranjan said.
The latest war of words adds to the recent spats the two allies in Bihar had seen. Soon after the Union Budget was presented, while Chief Minister Nitish Kumar praised the Budget, his colleague and senior JD(U) leader Upendra Kushwaha had termed the 2022 Budget as “a disappointing one” for Bihar.
However, subsequently partcipating in another debate, the two leaders agreed on the need to grant special status to Bihar.
The Question Hour also saw a sharp exchange of words between Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia and Congress leader Shashi Tharoor over the use of Hindi.
Mr. Tharoor said the Minister had insulted a member from Tamil Nadu — P. Velusamy of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam — by replying in Hindi when the question was asked in English. “Please don’t give replies in Hindi. It is an insult to people,” the Congress leader said, adding that the Minister speaks English.
A visibly upset Mr. Scindia said that it was strange for Mr. Tharoor to object as there were translators in the House. Intervening, Lok Speaker Om Birla said, “ Ye apmaan nahi hain (this is not an insult).”