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Modi plays down spat

- Deputy CM backs Nitish

Deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi on Tuesday tried to clear the air on the alleged war of words between chief minister Nitish Kumar and his party MP Kirti Azad in an apparent damage-control measure.

Modi said Azad had denied describing Nitish’s Seva Yatra as Helicopter Yatra as reported in the media. “I spoke to Azad who denied that he had dubbed the chief minister’s yatra as Helicopter Yatra,” the deputy CM said on the sidelines of his weekly janata durbar on Tuesday.

On Azad’s reported accusation that the chief minister had stopped him from speaking at a Seva Yatra meeting in Darbhanga recently, Modi said: “I know Nitishji for quite a long period of time. He (Nitish) is not the kind of person to stop a people’s representative from airing his opinion.”

“The controversy related to the chief minister and the Darbhanga MP had no basis. It was quite uncalled for,” he added.

On Monday, Nitish had said he was “deeply hurt” at newspaper reports quoting the Darbhanga MP alleging that the CM had stopped him from speaking at a meeting at Darbhanga. Earlier, Azad had stated how the CM “snubbed” him at the meeting leading cadres from the BJP and JD(U) to indulge in taking verbal jabs at each other.

Asked if the BJP leadership would take action against Azad for making the allegation against Nitish, Modi said: “Why should the party leadership come into the picture on the issue. There is no controversy whatsoever. The chapter should be closed.”

The confrontation began on Saturday during a meeting convened to review development schemes in Darbhanga. Sources said Azad had started talking on a waterlogging issue when Nitish asked him to shut up and observe proceedings. On Monday, Nitish told The Telegraph: “I was deeply hurt when I saw Azad’s statements in the newspaper today. I’d simply told him he was not required to speak on waterlogging in Darbhanga as I was already announcing a scheme to tackle it.”

Steering clear of any other questions on the matter, Modi said the Centre should bear the cost of the implementation of the food security bill in the states. “It is not possible for a state like Bihar to share the expenditure. It is hard for us to supply foodgrain to 75 per cent priority households in the rural areas and 50 percent in the urban areas as stipulated in the bill,” he said.

“How would we meet the Centre’s criteria to provide 5kg foodgrain per person per month to 75 per cent priority households in rural areas and 50 per cent in urban areas when around 90 per cent of the people live in rural areas?” Modi asked.


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