Manoj Chaurasia/The Statesman
Patna: Chief minister Nitish Kumar’s Sunday visit to Mumbai to attend celebrations there of Bihar’s centenary has sparked strong protests in his home state.
Opposition politicians are accusing him of frittering away people’s hard-earned money and undermining the dignity of Bihar, all in an effort to burnish his image.
“Instead of resorting to Bihar centenary celebration theatrics, the chief minister should have visited the people in distress in his homeland. Celebration function do not mitigate the miseries of the people,” said Rashtriya Janata Dal chief and Lalu Prasad, Mr Kumar's arch-rival.
At a Press conference today in Patna, he called Mr Kumar a coward and said the chief minister has hurt the state's prestige by surrendering before MNS chief Raj Thackeray. “Instead of saying ‘jai Bihar, he (Mr Kumar) first said ‘jai Maharashtra’ at the function. Only a big fool would say this,” said Mr Prasad.
The MNS chief had earlier dared Mr Kumar to participate in the Bihar Diwas celebrations in Mumbai. He withdrew his threat, however, after the ruling party leaders met the MNS chief and told him it was a purely “socio-cultural” event, rather than political.
Later, the chief minister also talked to Mr Thackeray on the phone. It is said that ruling party lawmaker and former minister Devesh Chandra Thakur brokered a peace deal. "What kind of art is he (Mr Kumar) displaying by surrendering before those protesting his visit?" asked Mr Prasad. "He has spent cores of rupees to polish his image and caused considerable damage to the state ... Today, Bihar lags behind many states."
The RJD chief said Bihar's NDA government has failed on all fronts: the law-and-order situation has collapsed; the number of corruption cases has touched a new high; power is totally absent from the state; and the poor have become victims of the state’s atrocities. He said he would go to people and expose the "reality" of the NDA’s development story.
The CPI, too, reacted sharply to the Bihar Diwas celebration in Mumbai. “This is a sheer waste of the people’s money, which should have been spent on welfare work,” said state CPI secretary Badri Narayan Lal. “The common people are surely not going to benefit from this move by the chief minister.”
Mr Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP party, meanwhile, has announced that it will launch a signature campaign against the Nitish Kumar administration on 30 April to make the people aware of the “misdeeds of the state government”.