Patna: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had lashed out at journalists Tuesday when he was asked pointed questions during a visit to relief camps in the flood-hit state. Facing protests by the public and questions by reporters, Kumar had said that his state was not alone in reeling under floods.
“In how many parts of the country and across the world have there been floods? Is water in some parts of Patna the only problem we have? What happened in America? what happened in Mumbai?” he asked.
But talk in the political circles of Bihar is that the CM is angry not because of attacks by critics on Bihar floods but because he is facing heat from coalition partner BJP.
During his visit to affected areas Tuesday, Union Law Minister and Patna Sahib MP Ravi Shankar Prasad had said “drains should have been cleaned in a better way”. Prasad, who is known to have a strained relationship with Kumar, also talked about steps taken by the Centre to assist the CM — two helicopters and 20 teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) — without mentioning the state government’s efforts in dealing with the situation.
Similarly, Union minister and Begusarai MP Giriraj Singh had lashed out at the Patna administration Tuesday, saying, “There was waterlogging due to excessive rain. But the fact that Patna has remained under water for four days indicates mismanagement on the part of the government.”
Singh had also tweeted a video of JD(U) MLA from Matihani, Narendra Singh, Monday in which the latter is blaming the state government and the Begusarai district administration for their lackadaisical attitude in dealing with the floods.
Likewise, newly-appointed state BJP chief Sanjay Jaiswal also expressed his “anguish” over the state government’s failure to provide relief to flood-hit residents. Over 40 people are estimated to have died in rain-related incidents in the state.
‘CM Kumar shouldn’t have relied on BJP’
The JD(U) and its ally BJP had a public spat of sorts earlier over opening of the gates of Farraka Barrage to release flood waters of the Ganga.
While a government press note had stated that the Farraka gates were opened following CM Kumar’s request to the Centre, state BJP leaders claimed that it was Union minister Prasad who got the job done. Seething with anger, JD(U) leaders had then claimed that its ally was taking “undue credit”. The matter also drew taunts from RJD leader Shivanand Tiwari who asked the CM to come clean on it.
“There is a pattern in the manner in which a section of the media known to be close to the BJP is trying to tarnish the image of Nitish Kumar,” JD(U)’s chief spokesperson Sanjay Singh told The Print.
JD(U) leaders also recalled how Kumar was targeted after more than 100 children had died during an encephalitis outbreak in June, despite the fact that the state health minister is a BJP leader, Mangal Pandey. They also said that BJP leader Suresh Prasad Sharma, who is the state urban development and housing minister, should have been questioned about the floods.
“Yet the BJP is attempting to put the blame on Nitish Kumar alone,” said a JD(U) minister, on condition of anonymity. The leader also said that Kumar “made a mistake” by relying on BJP ministers to look after the state’s functioning.
Bihar, this year, has received excess rainfall after a period of 25 years. Patna alone recorded 350 mm of rains in the past four days. While the Nitish Kumar government has built roads and buildings in Patna, the city’s drainage system has been severely ignored. Officials recall that the last drainage system in the state capital was built in 1986. Since then many unplanned constructions have taken place and population of the city has also exploded.