Even as he launched a broadside against the UPA government’s treatment of his State, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Wednesday questioned the validity of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s prime ministerial ambition when he did not enjoy the confidence among a large section of people.
As Mr. Kumar addressed an election meeting at Nardiganj, Mr. Modi was addressing a rally in the city about 14 km away. The Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate, in his turn, did not refer much to the Bihar Chief Minister in his speech. In response to Mr. Gandhi’s accusation that the Bihar Chief Minister had failed to usher in development or industrialise the State — at his meeting in Aurangabad on Tuesday — Mr. Kumar said it was the Congress’ failure to give a special package to a divided Bihar that had impeded the State’s growth. Most States, he contended, had obtained such a package which allowed them to provide tax breaks to new manufacturing units and generate employment.
Mr. Kumar said the UPA government had helped States in the west and the south with freight equalisation but left Bihar bereft of open-pit mines after Jharkhand was carved out. He contended that the Centre had failed to implement the food security scheme properly in his State, which had not been allocated its quota of food grains for distribution.
Mr. Kumar also found fault with Mr. Gandhi’s statement on families below the poverty line. “It seems Jairam Ramesh had not tutored him well on the issue as the divide line was between priority families and non-priority families,” he said.
Mr. Kumar ridiculed Mr. Gandhi’s claim that his party would root out corruption. “He tore up ordinances but has now joined hands with those who are neck deep in corruption,” he maintained.
Turning his ire on Mr. Modi and the BJP, Mr. Kumar claimed people who praised his work when his party was in the alliance now had eyes only for the Gujarat model as though they had no interest in Bihar.
“They now regard Gujarat as heaven. What happened in 2002 is there for all to see. How many people were killed and how many relief camps were set up? What happened at these places?” he asked.
“The Prime Minister is the leader of the country and he has to enjoy the confidence of the entire country,” he asserted, adding that when crores of people were suspicious of Mr. Modi, he was not fit to lead the country.
Clarifying his position on the Godhra incident, at the time of which he was Railway Minister, Mr. Kumar said he had not ordered an inquiry as the attack on the train was not an accident. It was a law and order issue and he pointed out that he resigned from his post after the 1999 Ghaisal railway accident.
He accused Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad of failing to take action against those who perpetrated the Bhagalpur riots during the Congress regime. “He had not taken any action. I did. I punished those who had been let off and paid compensation to the affected families.”
He said he had taken a principled stand in parting ways with the BJP and was not bothered whether he won any seats in Bihar or not.
Courtesy: The Hindu