Patna: It is official now that a rift is growing within the ruling NDA in Bihar. The issue came to the fore when none of the ruling leaders including Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi, did not attend the official Dussehra celebrations (Vijay Dashmi) in Patna where CM Nitish Kumar was the chief guest. The boycott by Bharatiya Janata Party leaders was intended to send a strong political message that they are not happy with Nitish Kumar.
The program was attended by senior party leaders of Janata Dal United and even the opposition Congress’s state president Madan Mohan Jha was seen closely interacting with the Bihar CM. The speculations of rift found further support when Bihar Governor Fagu Chauhan (a senior BJP leader, considered close to Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh), who was scheduled to formally inaugurate the celebrations, failed to turn up.
Earlier, the saffron party leaders had directly targeted him and blamed him for his failure to handle the worst water logging crisis in Patna after heavy rainfall. This in turn had angered the JD-U leaders, who allege that this is part of the BJP’s attempt to embarrass Nitish Kumar ahead of the 2020 state Assembly polls. While senior JD-U leader and Bihar minister Ashok Choudhary told NewsClick that the non-attendance of BJP ministers was questionable, the state BJP leaders have downplayed it.
Senior BJP leader and party MP from Patliputra seat, Ram Kirpal Yadav on Wednesday said, "I have decided to keep away from Ravan burning functions to help water logging and floods victims. Festivity and celebrations are not as important, what matters most for us is the suffering and pain of water logging and floods victims.” Similar statements were repeated by other BJP MLAs including Sanjeev Chourasia and Arun Sinha.
Meanwhile, another BJP leader told NewsClick, “Slowly but surely BJP is on the path to prepare for next state Assembly polls on its own. Signals are clear and it will be more visible in coming days.”
Also read: Cracks Surface in Bihar's Ruling NDA Over Patna Waterlogging and Floods
The differences in the ruling NDA had surfaced after the worst water logging crisis in Patna with several BJP leaders, including one Union Minister and Janata Dal (United) leaders targetting and blaming each other for their failure in handling the crisis.
Union Minister Giriraj Singh was the first leader from the ruling NDA to say that the waterlogging in Patna was not a natural calamity but a result of ‘mismanagement’. This was contrary to Nitish Kumar’s repeated statements that waterlogging in Patna was a result of natural calamity.
Not only, he had also attacked the government saying, “The government should take action against guilty officials. If there was prediction, forecast and warning by the India Meteorological Department and state weather department, why did the officials fail to take precautionary measures.”
Earlier, too, Singh had targeted the Bihar government for poor handling of floods across the state, adding that floods provide an opportunity for the administration to loot in the name of relief.
Singh, who belongs to the powerful upper caste Bhumihar community, is a known vocal champion of Hindutva. He is being widely seen by some of his partymen as BJP’s chief ministerial candidate in the 2020 Assembly polls in Bihar if BJP decides to contest alone. As of now, BJP is an ally of Nitish Kumar's JD-U in Bihar.
Incidentally, Singh was reportedly supported by the newly-appointed Bihar BJP president Sanjay Jaiswal who also accused the Nitish Kumar-led government of administrative negligence.
However, JD-U leader and Bihar minister Shayam Razak not only countered Giriraj Singh, he also attacked BJP leader and Deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi and another BJP leader and Bihar road construction minister Nand Kishor Yadav, blaming them for hardly doing anything.
Another JD-U leader and Bihar minister Sharavan Kumar asked Giriraj Singh to “make public what his ministry has done and name a single project work that his ministry had completed in Bihar.”
Amid the political slugfest within the ruling NDA, the people continue to suffer. The authorities are fearing an epidemic outbreak as the water has turned black and is emanating an unbearable stink. Animal carcasses have been seen floating.
Dengue is spreading fast among the waterlogging victims in the most affected residential localities in Patna, as more than 800 patients have been tested positive for dengue fever in the last one week.