PATNA: Time, it is said, is a great leveller! Call it his ‘political compulsions’ or ‘correction’ in his stand, chief minister Nitish Kumar today accepted a Rs 5 crore (Rs 50 million) cheque donated by the Gujarat government for Bihar flood victims.
Strangely, this is the same amount which the Bihar chief minister had earlier returned to the Gujarat government in 2010 over his political differences with Narendra Modi, then chief minister of Gujarat.
But, today the chief minister flashed a sheepish smile while accepting a cheque from Gujarat education minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama in Patna.
“That was 2010. This is 2017… Time is powerful,” was the curt reaction of Gujarat minister on being reminded by the media about how the same amount of cheque was earlier returned to the Gujarat government by the Bihar chief minister. He added Bihar has suffered devastating floods this time and it is part of the Indian culture to help people in distress.
In 2010, Mr Kumar had cancelled dinner for a host of BJP dignitaries who had come to Patna to attend party’s three-day national executive meeting just after the BJP inserted an advertisement in local newspapers featuring the “golden shake” between Mr Kumar and his Gujarat counterpart Mr Modi.
In a resultant action, Mr Kumar also returned the Rs 5 crore cheque donated by the Gujarat government for the 2008 Kosi flood victims saying “donations are not given by making huge publicity”.
Today, however, Mr Kumar didn’t react anymore even though the Gujarat government publicized much more about the donation being given to Bihar flood victims.
Even before leaving for Patna, the Gujarat minister told the media in Gujarat that he was going to Bihar to hand over the cheque.
“There has been massive destruction in Bihar due to the floods. Hence, I am going to Patna tomorrow to hand over a cheque for Rs5 crore to Nitish Kumar and his deputy Sushil Kumar Modi,” was how Gujarat education minister told the media at an official function in Gujarat on Wednesday.
Soon after landing at the Patna airport too, he again reiterated he was going to hand over the donation to the Bihar government.
“How he looked like a helpless, broken and weak man when he accepted the same amount of cheque which he himself had returned earlier,” commented Bihar opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav.
“It was neither Rs 4 crore nor Rs 6 crore. It was exactly the same Rs 5 crore. As such the Prime Minister is adding more salts to his wounds,” he added.
The Congress too made similar comments. “This highlights the helplessness of Nitish Kumar. See, how the amount he had spurned earlier is accepting today,” remarked Congress leader Prem Chandra Mishra.
Observers say this was the third “correction” in the stand of Mr Kumar in quick succession since he joined the BJP camp in July end.
The chief minister had made the second correction when he offered “lunch” for Prime Minister who visited Bihar on August 26 to undertake an aerial survey of flood-affected areas.
Strangely, however, the PM “avoided” having lunch with the chief minister and flew back to Delhi from Purnia airport itself instead of reaching CM’s officials residence in Patna.
And, the first correction is only too well known when Mr Kumar returned to the company of the BJP in July end, thus formally accepting the leadership of Mr Modi—the issue over which he had broken the 17-year-old alliance with the BJP in June 2013.
According to experts, Mr Kumar himself nursed Prime Ministerial ambitions and wanted to be projected as NDA’s PM candidate but his patience ran out after Mr Modi was declared as coalition’s PM face.