September 30, 2020

The familiar sound of Nitish’s silence

Patna: Prolonged silence is chief minister Nitish Kumar’s trademark move whenever there is a crisis.

The Opposition has been ranting about his delay in speaking on the Muzaffarpur shelter home rapes, but those who know him say it his “natural” design.

“Nitish in very calculative in his steps and statements,” said former MP Shivanand Tiwari, who has known Nitish for over four decades. “He quit as railway minister after the Gaisal train accident because he knew that then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee would turn down his resignation letter.”

Shivanand, who is now in the Opposition RJD, taunted Nitish for expressing “shame” over the Muzaffarpur rapes after a long time. “And it lacked intensity… he didn’t offer to quit even though the Muzaffarpur shelter home is a bigger blot than the Gaisal train accident,” Shivanand said.

The Muzaffarpur episode has been in the news since April, ever since Tata Institute of Social Sciences submitted its report to the social welfare department hinting at sexual abuse there and other state-funded shelter homes run by NGOs. However, even as the outrage against the shocking abuse grew louder, Nitish remained silent.

Even in the monsoon session he avoided the issue, with deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi defending the government’s role. Nitish finally spoke up on August 3, in signature delayed style.

When a crisis was brewing between the JDU and the BJP in 2013, Nitish spoke his mind only a day before the break-up. Even in 2017, while Sushil Kumar Modi hurled charge after charge against RJD chief Lalu Prasad and family, Nitish not only remained aloof but put a gag on his spokespersons. The day the CBI raided 10 Circular Road, Lalu’s home, over the railway hotels case, Nitish had left for Rajgir.

The chief minister spoke up only to announce that he was done with the Grand Alliance.

In administrative matters too, Nitish prefers the silent treatment. In the Gandaman midday meal tragedy in which 23 children died of food poisoning, Nitish spoke only after the children were brought to Patna for treatment. When the Srijan scam surfaced, he spoke a month after handing the case over to the CBI. Early this year when the state was reeling under communal tension, he spoke only after the tension subsided.

Nitish has often said he does not care who says what about him. His admirers say that his work speaks louder than words. His critics say he remains silent till public anger subsides.

Courtesy: The Telegraph

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