PATNA: Bihar Chief Minister, Mr Nitish Kumar on Saturday sought to rebuff his Gujarat counterpart Mr Narendra Modi by returning the Rs five crore aid given by him for the Kosi flood victims, drawing sharp attack from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and other parties like the Congress, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP).
Mr Kumar, who was angry after local papers last week carried advertisements about the help given by the Gujarat government for the 2008 Kosi flood victims, returned the money, which was lying unspent in the CM’s relief fund, officials said. The Bihar Chief Minister had described Modi government’s claim of liberal donation as "uncivilised."
Reacting to Mr Kumar’s decision to return the money, the Gujarat government said the move was "unfortunate." "The decision is unfortunate," Gujarat minister and government spokesperson, Mr Jaynarayan Vyas told reporters in Dwarka in Gujarat. The assistance was given as a token of brotherly affection, he said.
BJP spokesperson, Ms Nirmala Sitharaman said in Delhi that the funds were given in a spirit of solidarity and empathy with the flood victims. "I wonder if only the money is being returned or the feeling of empathy, solidarity and spirit of togetherness too," Ms Sitharaman said.
Hitting out at Mr Kumar, actor-politician Mr Shatrughan Sinha said it reflected the Janata Dal (United) leader’s "arrogance." The BJP Lok Sabha member from Patna Saheb said Mr Kumar’s action seems to be inspired by his overwhelming concern for minority votes in the coming Bihar assembly elections. Terming the decision as "arbitrary," he said the money did not belong either to Mr Kumar or Mr Modi but was meant for flood victims.
Senior BJP leader and Bihar minister Mr Giriraj Singh said Mr Kumar’s decision was "uncultured." The return of the funds was "against constitutional prestige," he said adding, "It reflects an
uncultured decision."The Bihar Chief Minister had also taken strong exception to the use of a photograph showing him holding Mr Modi’s hand in another advertisement published in local dailies and had even threatened to take legal action against those responsible.
But despite the spat between Mr Kumar and Mr Modi, JD(U) chief Mr Sharad Yadav asserted that the party’s alliance with the BJP in Bihar would continue. "The ties between the two parties are old and they will continue. There is no question of any break-up," he said. Assembly polls in Bihar are just a
few months away.
Mr Yadav said the "unpleasantness" over the publication of Mr Kumar’s photograph with that of Mr Modi was over the very day it had appeared and pointed out that the two parties had fought the just-concluded Rajya Sabha polls together.
Rashtriya Janata Dal chief, Mr Lalu Prasad too had a dig at his archrival saying Mr Kumar’s decision was "nothing but an absurdity." He also wanted to know from the Chief Minister as to where had he parked the money. "Where have you kept the money and why did you not spend the amount received in 2008?"
Criticising Mr Kumar, senior Congress leader and political advisor to Ms Sonia Gandhi, Mr Ahmed Patel said, "He (Kumar) should have thought before returning the fund that this money does not belong to any leader. This is the money given by people of Gujarat to people of Bihar." He also attacked the Gujarat Chief Minister saying he should not have instigated Mr Kumar by giving advertisements in Bihar.
Another senior Congress leader and Union Minister, Mr Subodh Kant Sahay dubbed the Bihar Chief Minister’s decision as "an election stunt." "It is nothing but a political and election stunt," he said and described Mr Kumar and Mr Modi as the two faces of the same coin. He said the Bihar Chief Minister’s face as a secular politician stood exposed after he aligned with the BJP to run a coalition government in Bihar.
Lok Janshakti Party president, Mr Ram Vilas Paswan also ridiculed Mr Kumar and accused him of enacting a "drama" by returning the money. "The act of returning money is just a drama and an attempt to woo Muslim voters," Mr Paswan told reporters in Delhi. He also dared Mr Kumar to say that the poster in which he is seen with Mr Modi is fake.
Meanwhile, disapproving of Mr Nitish Kumar’s move to return the flood relief money given by Gujarat, BJP on Saturday said there should not be any politics over such aid but maintained that the incident would not affect its "time-tested" alliance with JD(U).