Chief minister Nitish Kumar on Wednesday sailed into fresh controversy by choosing to visit ailing Governor D.Y. Patil in Mumbai instead of going to Khagaria when questions are being raised about his no-shows at places struck by tragedy in the state.
Be it the Gandaman midday meal tragedy or the Dhamara Ghat run over horror, Nitish Kumar always has an excuse in hand to dodge the aftermath of a catastrophe.
Harping on his inefficiency to meet tragedy with strong hands, the Opposition and his own cabinet colleagues came down heavily on the chief minister after he chose to see ailing Governor D.Y. Patil in Bombay Hospital on Wednesday rather than meeting the kin of the people who had died in the Dhamara Ghat accident.
Nitish took the afternoon flight to Mumbai to see the governor.
Unlike Nitish, former deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi is busy meeting the family members in Khagaria. Speaking to The Telegraph over the phone, Modi said: “Nitish is afraid of meeting people. There is anger against him and he does not want to face the wrath. It is unfortunate that he has time to meet the governor but no time for the people who lost their dear ones in Khagaria. It also shows the insensitivity of the government.
“Forget the chief minister, even the local JD(U) MLA, Ram Chandra Sada, did not bother to meet the victims’ family members. I have no problem with Nitish meeting the governor but he cannot ignore the poor people. There’s anger among the masses because of the way Nitish’s government has been functioning for the past two months.”
Aide-de-camp to the governor, Shivdeep Lande, said Patil was admitted to the Bombay Hospital with minor chest pain on August 19 — the day the Dhamara Ghat tragedy struck.
“The governor is doubting a chest blockade and has done angiography and angioplasty. He is taking rest as of now,” Lande said. Angiography is an X-ray examination of the arteries and angioplasty is a procedure that opens up narrowed blood vessels without surgery, using small ballons.
The chief minister had a strained relationship with Patil’s predecessor Devanand Konwar. Nitish had time and again uttered his frustration publicly over Raj Bhavan’s actions over the issue during Konwar’s tenure. Bills passed by the Legislative Assembly were either returned or ignored for days.
However, ever since Patil assumed charge, Nitish has managed to build an instant rapport with the state head. Several bills related to appointment of teachers and VCs in universities have been passed within days. Patil, unlike his predecessor, has never allowed the Raj Bhavan to be made the centre of anti-government activities.
“Nitish values his relationship with Patil and it is normal that he should pay a visit when he is unwell,” said a JD(U) MP, stressing that the new governor has made Nitish’s life politically easier.
“Patil had immediately accepted Nitish’s recommendation to drop BJP ministers from his cabinet when he severed ties with the party,” the legislator added.
However, not all are happy within the government with the chief minister paying a visit to the governor. Some are disappointed with Nitish’s “inconsiderateness”.
Requesting anonymity, a cabinet minister said: “I fully accept that Nitishji should not have visited Mumbai to see the governor. It will send a wrong message to the people in Bihar. He should have visited Khagaria to meet the victims’ family members. It is disappointing that he is travelling so far to meet the governor but he is not able to take out time to meet people in his own state. Unhone ye thik nahi kiya (Nitishji has not done a the correct thing).”